Here’s a Chinese medicine riddle: if a problem doesn’t exist, can it be treated? Take for instance high cholesterol. There’s no mention of this condition in ancient TCM literature. So if you want to lower your cholesterol levels, can TCM help or not?
One of the most famous text in traditional Chinese medicine, the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” doesn’t mention it. And neither does “Master Hua’s Classic of the Central Viscera.” Same goes for another classic on TCM, the “Compendium of Materia Medica.”
In fact, no classic TCM reference mentions high cholesterol as a medical problem.
So does that mean high cholesterol is not a problem in Chinese medicine?
After all, without doubt, it is in western medicine. There’s no denying that having abnormally high accumulation of cholesterol deposits in the blood and arteries increases your chance for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
However, TCM doesn’t necessarily view high cholesterol as a disease. Rather, it’s symptomatic of a dysfunction of the metabolic pathway.
Specifically, it’s an accumulation of dampness and phlegm. And this accumulation is the result of weakness in certain Zang fu organs. Most notably, Spleen, Stomach, and Liver.
Although in ancient times high cholesterol was not a diagnosis as it is today in western medicine, it’s possible that centuries ago, TCM students and teachers, while conducting dissections or autopsies noticed a white, waxy substance in blood vessels. This natural substance found in the body is cholesterol.
And in analyzing post-mortem blood vessels, perhaps the students and TCM doctor/teachers noticed more of this white, waxy buildup in some cadavers compared to others….
Is Cholesterol Bad?
But cholesterol is not in itself an evil substance it’s made out to be. In fact, from a western perspective, it’s a precursor to several hormones. Without it, we wouldn’t have testosterone to help build lean muscle tissue and provide a healthy libido. Cholesterol also gives structure to cell membranes. Our cells would be more vulnerable to oxidation and structural damage without enough of it.
TCM doesn’t necessarily view high cholesterol as a disease, rather, it’s symptomatic of a dysfunction of the metabolic pathway
Moreover, some natural health experts view cholesterol as a repair substance that responds to inflammation in the body.
Nonetheless, an estimated 20 million people take statin drugs. Statin drugs limit the amount of cholesterol naturally produced by the liver.
Several ActiveHerb customers taking statins have expressed concern about the side effects of their medications. And they want to know if anything in the realm of TCM can help.
The short answer: yes.
TCM herbs can in fact help normalize lipid levels in the blood.
TCM root causes of high cholesterol
Before discussing TCM herbs for high cholesterol, let’s talk a little about why, from a TCM perspective, someone may have elevated levels of serum (blood) lipids.
Even in ancient times, a well-known predictor of health was diet. It was common knowledge that eating a diet rich in fried and/or fatty foods (and not getting enough movement) can lead to health problems.
According to TCM theory, the root cause of excess cholesterol in the blood is dysfunction of the Spleen and Liver organ systems.
Spleen in TCM is the primary digestive organ system. It transforms the food you eat into usable energy. But if you’re eating lots of fast food and highly-processed food, your Spleen won’t have the proper building blocks (nutrients) to produce healthy levels of Qi and blood.
Poor Diet, Not Enough Exercise = PHLEGM
The liver produces cholesterol naturally. But if someone has too much Yang energy in the liver, it could cause the liver to operate in hyperdrive, producing excess cholesterol.
This cholesterol has to go somewhere. And if diet is poor and not enough exercise breaks up the cholesterol deposits, this can potentially lead to the build-up mentioned above in the arterial walls.
Many illnesses, from a TCM perspective, can be attributed to excess internal dampness. Excess cholesterol in the blood fits this pattern. Internal dampness can produce phlegm. Not the phlegm you may automatically think of with bad colds, but internal phlegm from an excess of fatty tissue.
Internal dampness stems from blood stasis. Think of blood stasis as when your blood, instead of flowing like a free-flowing river, instead, is stagnant like a swamp.
But thankfully, even if you have blood stasis, there are solutions….
Treating High Cholesterol with TCM Using Herbs
The good news for those looking for natural remedies for cholesterol, there are herbs you can take. These herbs may promote blood circulation and increase cholesterol metabolism. Moreover, they may prevent cholesterol from depositing on blood vessel walls.
Salvia Root (Dan Shen), Notoginseng Root (San Qi), and Astragalus (Huang Qi) are used in clinical applications to treat arteriosclerosis. These all-natural botanical herbs do this by their action of helping to increase the flexibility of arteries.
Hawthorn berry is a popular herb in both TCM and western herbalism. In TCM, Hawthorn berries help improve digestion to remove food retention in the stomach, and promote blood circulation to disperse blood stasis.
Although there is no classic TCM formula for high cholesterol, several herbs used since ancient times have been clinically-proven to help normalize levels. We have combined several of these herbs into our signature formula: CholestAssure.
Containing 10 herbs, including hawthorn berry, the herbs in CholestAssure drain internal dampness, thereby resolving excess phlegm.
Success Stories: Treating High Cholesterol With TCM
It’s very important that you do not stop taking your medication! If you want to try herbal remedies for high cholesterol, inform your doctor.
That being said, several of our customers have been able to lower the amount of medication they take for high cholesterol/triglycerides. And in some cases, completely get off of it.
One reviewer shares the following success story:
“Due to liver issues, I can’t tolerate taking statins and was trying to find another route to lower my frighteningly-high cholesterol and triglycerides. My acupuncturist recommended CholestAssure – and in 4 months, my total cholesterol dropped from 376 to 210, triglycerides from 740 to 315. THIS WORKS.”
Another customer from Phoenix writes,
“I don’t like the possible side effects of statins, so I decided to try CholestAssure. I’ve been taking the recommended dosage once in the morning and once at night for six months. My total cholesterol was down after three months. My doctor is satisfied with the results so I’m continuing it.”
For more information on our TCM formulas for high cholesterol, please click here.