Atherosclerosis natural treatment with vitamins, herbs, and supplements, alternative therapy by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

April 20 2014

Other names: Arteriosclerosis and Hardening of the Arteries.

Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that occurs as a result of mononuclear lymphocyte infiltration to the arterial wall, smooth muscle cell proliferation and damage in the arterial wall caused by extracellular matrix accumulation. Besides several genetic and environmental factors, increased serum cholesterol and oxidized low density lipoproteins are considered to be major inducing factors of atherosclerosis. Several natural protective agents have been used to prevent the progression and perhaps even reverse the course.

Atherosclerosis is a health condition in which fatty material is deposited along the walls of arteries. This fatty material thickens, hardens, and may eventually block the arteries. If the atherosclerosis happens to occur in the coronary arteries, further blockage through a blood clot or spasm can lead to chest pain or a heart attack. Clots can also form around the plaque deposits, further interfering with blood flow and posing added danger if they break off and travel to the heart, lungs, or brain. Many physicians now suspect that there is an immune system component to the problem (inflammation may help cause atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis is just one of several types of "arterio"-sclerosis, which is characterized by thickening and hardening of artery walls, but the two terms are often used to mean the same thing. Atherosclerosis can cause erection problems, including impotence.
   Abdominal obesity measured by waist girth is associated with early atherosclerosis. In other words, the more abdominal fat a person carries, the more likely their coronary arteries are clogged with fatty material or plaque.

Natural supplements to prevent or reduce atherosclerosis
It is possible to reduce your risk or to improve the condition through natural means. A bad diet is the most important factor in development of atherosclerosis, following by smoking. See suggestions for diet that could help you make good selections. See this cholesterol article that provides a list of dietary supplements you can try after consulting with your health care provider to lower levels of cholesterol and lipids, factors that influence hardening of the arteries. There are a number of dietary supplements that could be helpful to you and the cholesterol article will give you many good options. The following should be reviewed and also others mentioned in this heart disease article.

Flavonoids should be considered.
Eating fish or fish oil supplements could be of benefit.
Pomegranate supplement may be helpful
Resveratrol pills should be considered
Green tea extract is associated with a lower risk.
Grape seed extract has been studied in animals with good results.

 

Flavonoids are of benefit
Antiatherogenic properties of flavonoids: implications for cardiovascular health.
Can J Cardiology. 2010.
Epidemiological studies suggest that higher flavonoid intake from fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease.

 

Green tea benefit
Association between green tea intake and coronary artery disease in a Chinese population.
Circ J. 2010. Department of Cardiology, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China.
There is still conflicting evidence that green tea may protect against coronary atherosclerosis therefore the present study investigated the association between green tea consumption and arteriographically determined coronary atherosclerosis in a Chinese population. The study population consisted of 520 consecutive patients (379 men and 141 women) who underwent coronary arteriography for the first time. Patients were divided into 2 groups (Non-coronary artery disease [CAD] and CAD groups) according to the results of coronary arteriography. After adjusting the established and potential confounders, green tea consumption was associated with a reduced risk of CAD in male patients. Green tea consumption can protect against the development of coronary atherosclerosis in Chinese male patients.

Pomegranate juice for atherosclerosis
Pomegranate juice appears to be beneficial in reducing oxidation of lipids and may reduce the risk for atherosclerosis.

Anti-oxidative effects of pomegranate juice consumption by diabetic patients on serum and on macrophages.
Atherosclerosis. 2006.
We thus conclude that pomegranate juice consumption by diabetic patients did not worsen the diabetic parameters, but rather resulted in anti-oxidative effects on serum and macrophages, which could contribute to attenuation of atherosclerosis development in these patients.

Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease.
Am J Cardiol. 2005. The Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, California, USA.
In conclusion, daily consumption of pomegranate juice may improve stress-induced myocardial ischemia in patients who have coronary heart disease.

Weight loss reduces risk
In addition to reducing cholesterol and other known cardiac risk factors, controlling one's weight slows the build up of calcium on the walls of the coronary arteries and retard the progression of atherosclerosis.

Dietary intervention to reverse carotid atherosclerosis. Department of Epidemiology and Health Systems Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.
It is currently unknown whether dietary weight loss interventions can induce regression of carotid atherosclerosis. In a 2-year Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial-Carotid (DIRECT-Carotid) study, participants were randomized to low-fat, Mediterranean, or low-carbohydrate diets and were followed for changes in carotid artery intima-media thickness, measured with standard B-mode ultrasound, and carotid vessel wall volume (VWV), measured with carotid 3D ultrasound. Of 140 complete images of participants (aged 51 years; body mass index, 30 kg/m(2); 88% men), higher baseline carotid VWV was associated with increased intima-media thickness, age, male sex, baseline weight, blood pressure, and insulin levels. After 2 years of dietary intervention, we observed a significant 5% regression in mean carotid VWV, with no differences in the low-fat, Mediterranean, or low-carbohydrate groups. Two-year weight loss diets can induce a significant regression of measurable carotid vessel wall volume. The effect is similar in low-fat, Mediterranean, or low-carbohydrate strategies and appears to be mediated mainly by the weight loss-induced decline in blood pressure.

How atherosclerosis occurs
Fat, cholesterol, and other substances accumulate in the walls of arteries and form "atheromas" or plaques. Eventually, this fatty tissue can erode the wall of the artery, diminish its elasticity (stretchiness) and interfere with blood flow. Plaques can also rupture, causing debris to migrate downstream within an artery. This is a common cause of heart attack and stroke.

In atherosclerosis, plaque builds up on the inner walls of arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. As the artery walls thicken, the pathway for blood narrows. This can decrease or block blood flow through the body. Plaque is formed from cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances in the blood. When blood cholesterol levels are high, and where there is a high inflammatory state in the blood stream, there is a greater chance that plaque will build up on the artery walls. In most people, this process begins when they are children or teenagers and worsens as they get older.

Cause of atherosclerosis
There are various causes for atherosclerosis include poor diet, genetic predisposition, stress, lack of good sleep, smoking, overeating, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and living near heavy traffic and being exposed to air pollution.

Environmental pollutants such as dioxins, PCBs and pesticides are associated with hardening of the arteries.

Questions
I'm wondering if you have any opinion on Linus Pauling's theory about lysine and proline, in combination with vitamin c being very helpful in the treatment and reversal of atherosclerosis and related conditions.
   I have not studied the role of lysine and proline in the treatment or prevention of atherosclerosis. Vitamin C may be helpful.

I am male, seventy three years old, I cycle about five thousand miles per year and am still capable of cycling one hundred miles in a day but I was recently diagnosed with, slight calcification and atherosclerosis of my coronary arteries. It was suggested that I take aspirin 75mg on a daily basis and consider taking statins. I have friends who have taken statins but their side effects caused them concern and it is for this reason that I am seeking information on an alternative to statins. Any information you could give on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
   The page on how to lower cholesterol levels could be of benefit.