Repairing cells: Cholesterol is essential in the formation of new cells and in the repair of worn out cells or injured cells as it is an important component of the cell membrane. Thus cholesterol can rightly be called the building block for bodily tissues.
Brain function: Cholesterol has a very critical role to play in the nervous system. Treating the neurons with a 10 mcg/mL solution of cholesterol increased synapse formation by 12 times and thus improved learning and memory.
Manufacture of Vitamin D: Cholesterol is the precursor of Vitamin D. Sunlight converts cholesterol to vitamin D which is essential for calcium metabolism, blood sugar regulation, improving immunity and cancer prevention. Most foods that are cholesterol dense are also good sources of vitamin D – e.g. meat, poultry, egg etc.
Hormone Synthesis: Cholesterol helps in the synthesis of most steroid hormones. Cholesterol is the precursor of pregnenolone. Pregnenolone can either be converted to progesterone or testosterone (sex hormones). It also helps in the formation of glucocorticoids (help in blood sugar regulation) and mineralocorticoids (fluid balance and blood pressure regulation)*
Bile production: Body uses cholesterol for synthesis of bile which emulsifies fat. Liver helps in the conversion of cholesterol to bile acid. Higher the cholesterol to cholic acid ratio faster is the production of bile acids.
Antioxidant: HDL cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant. It scavenges free radicals and prevent oxidative damage in the system. Thus, reduces the incidence of metabolic syndrome.
Sources of cholesterol
Procurement of cholesterol is via two routes. The body makes some of it, and the rest comes from cholesterol in animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, egg, butter, cheese and whole milk. Food from plants — like fruits, vegetables and cereals — doesn’t have cholesterol. Foods with saturated fats also cause the body to make more cholesterol. Cholesterol is made primarily in the liver, but also created by cells lining the small intestine and by individual cells in the body.
If dietary cholesterol intake is excessive, it can lead to an elevation of lipid levels in the bloodstream (hyperlipidemia). These lipids include cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides(fats). Hypercholesterolemia is the term for high cholesterol levels, and hypertriglyceridemia is the term for high triglyceride levels. Because cholesterol-rich foods are also usually high in saturated fat, hypercholesterolemia is often combined to hypertriglyceridemia. Hyperlipidemias have been shown to represent a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the world today.
“Herbs and Ayurvedic Remedies for Cholesterol Treatment”
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Cholesterol
Alfalfa (Medicago satina) Alfalfa is effective in clearing arteries congested with cholesterol.
Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) Arjuna has been used since centuries in the treatment of heart related problems such as heart attacks. The bark of the arjuna when taken in powder form has beneficial properties. This can dissolve the cholesterol that accumulates in the coronary artery and reduce the possibility of heart attacks.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) Coriander is a very good diuretic. It makes the kidneys perform their functions of excretion better. Therefore the kidneys flush out the excess unneeded cholesterols from the body.
Garlic (Allium cepa) Garlic is very beneficial to people with cholesterol problems that affect the heart. Eating two to three cloves of garlic a day helps to reduce or even completely eliminate the harmful cholesterol in the blood. Garlic can disintegrate the blood cholesterol and hence free up the arteries.
Guggulu (Commiphora mukul) A traditional popular Indian herb in the Ayurvedic treatment of cholesterol-related heart problems. It contains guggulsterones which have been proven to reduce the cholesterol level on regular use. 25 mg of these guggulsterones are prescribed for intake thrice a day.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) Holy basil has the capacity to dissolve the accumulated cholesterol from the arteries into the person’s bloodstream and finally eliminated by the kidneys.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Cholesterol ——Keep a careful watch on the amount of calories you are consuming. Say no to chocolates, ice creams, red meats, fried food and all such foods that can increase the calorie count. Groundnut oil must be strictly prohibited. But fat sources such as cow’s milk, cow’s ghee and cow’s butter are recommended. Buffalo dairy products are to be avoided. Consume more fresh vegetables and fruits. Green leafy vegetables are needed since they would provide roughage for the elimination of the waste materials. Soy and soy products are very beneficial for the proper utilization of cholesterol. Drink lots of water. Water will help to remove the toxic buildup in the arteries.
Smoking and alcoholism must be avoided as they interfere with the proper utilization of cholesterol in the body.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatment for Cholesterol —–One popular herb to combat cholesterol rise in Ayurvedic medicine is arjuna. It is prescribed in several forms such as Arjunarishta and Arjuna Ghritam. Other popular medicines are Hridayarnava Rasa and Prabhakara Vati. If the cholesterol amount is very profuse, then Mrigamadasava is prescribed.
Yoga is also very beneficial in proper circulation and elimination of the cholesterol buildup in the body. Some of the useful asanas are:- a) Ardhamatsyendrasana b) Shalabhasana c) Padmasana d) Vajrasana
(4) Home Medications ——Drinking coriander in water everyday for a month helps in the reduction of cholesterol in the body. Then the cholesterol levels must be checked again. Boil a glassful of milk with a piece of garlic in it. This will reduce the cholesterol and take care of cardiac pains. Have cold hipbaths twice daily. These have been shown to have positive effects in the reduction of cholesterol when taken on a regular basis.