A 72 year old female presented to the nutrition clinic wanting to lower her cholesterol naturally. She had a strong family history of cardiovascular issues ion her family, with both parents dying of heart disease in their 60’s.
She also suffered from Psoriatic Arthritis and had to take Methotrexate to control the inflammation. Methotrexate is a drug prescribed most commonly for patients having chemotherapy to help supress the immune system, but is increasingly given to patients to help the treatment of autoimmune conditions among other things. I don’t necessarily agree with using it like that, but I am a doctor of Natural Medicine, NOT Western Medicine.
This patient had seen a Cardiologist and had been advised to take a statin. She was reluctant to do this as she had a friend who had been prescribed a statin for high cholesterol previously, who unfortunately developed pancreatic cancer and died several years later (this is very sad but it is a known possible side effect of this drug).
When she came to me she explained the situation and asked if there was anything I could do, as she wanted to try nutritional intervention for three months to see any possible changes.
1st consult 13 March 2018
LDL Cholesterol 4.4 (Ideal Reference range is below < 3.4)
We had a copy of her blood tests, so I knew where she started as a base line. The first consult was really about educating the patient in terms of what the problem was and what we were going to do about it.
Cholesterol belongs to the lipid family (fats) and all cholesterol is made in the Liver. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is thought to be problematic as when in excess in the body, the excess is deposited in to arteries, not back into the Liver. For this reason it is called ‘bad cholesterol’. This is not correct, but I have explained this in another paper so I will not go into it here.
Her tongue was red with no coat, her pulse was fast and wiry. As a Chinese Medicine practitioner this all basically indicated heat in general (read inflammation). Her sleep was poor and erratic and she had a tendency to worry. She also had a history of stomach reflux. The bowels were ‘easy, almost without control’.
The poor sleep means it is generally difficult to get the body to heal, as no one heals well when you cannot sleep. Worry is the emotion that most related to the Pi/Spleen in Chinese medicine (read digestion), and indicates that the Pi/Spleen cannot transform/transport food into nutrition easily.
The reflux is another sign of her Earth being disturbed, with her Stomach Qi rising, instead of descending as it is meant to. The Wei/Stomach and Pi/Spleen pair to make what is called ‘Earth’ in Chinese Medicine.
*Note the Wei/Stomach and Pi/Spleen are both digestive organs in Chinese Medicine, and has nothing to do with her ‘Western Spleen’ which is only about red and white blood cells. This is a general rule for all aspects of Chinese Medicine, which predates Western Medicine by many thousands of years. I am talking about the functions of the channel, not necessarily the physical organs themselves.
I explained that we needed to get her body to start to break down the cholesterol, and do most of the work. I removed all sugar and quick carbohydrates (carbs) from her diet like bread, crackers ect.. as these foods are inflammatory and nutrient poor, and will immediately be converted into fat and cholesterol by the body. I also gave her the ultimate secret to lowering cholesterol, blood lipids, weight loss, even curing type 2 diabetes. What could it possibly be???
When you fast, the body burns up stored glucose in the liver and skeletal muscle. This stored glucose is called glycogen, and is just a fancy name for lots of glucose molecules stuck together.
(This glucose chain is called glycogen)
Carbohydrates break down into glucose, which is a type of sugar, and glucose is used for energy in cells.
When you stop eating carbs, they body will breakdown the stored glycogen into individual glucose molecules so you have energy. When that is finished, what happens then?
Your body still needs glucose, because this is the primary fuel for the brain and nervous system, (and why you feel shaky and fuzzy headed when hungry).
Looking around it cannot find anymore glycogen to break down into glucose, but guess what is in abundance? Lipids! (Fat and cholesterol, both are types of fat)
They body then breaks this fat down and converts it into glucose to burn for energy. The by-product is called a Ketone, which you have likely heard of and indicates the body is burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
Another trick to get the body to burn fat is to eat lots of fat, as your body gets much better at dealing with it and has no alternative but to use fat to produce glucose.
She now understood the basic principles of how to lower cholesterol naturally, by working with the body not against it. Notice exercise was not a major part of this.
Here are the treatment principles we implemented
- Reduce animal meats in general, eat oily fish 2-3 times per week
- Increase all green leafy foods (for the magnesium and to alkalize the body)
- Drink lemon water every morning, 20 minutes before eating
- Eat 2 meals daily (she wanted to do this, suggested it and was comfortable with it)
- Implement intermittent fasting (she had lunch and dinner, fasted from 8pm at night to 12pm then next day – a 16 hour fast)
2nd Consult 20th March 2018
She was compliant and motivated and was feeling better after only a short amount of time. Her inflammation had already reduced, and she was back to going for walks now, something she was not able to previously easily do.
She had begun to notice changes on both her sleeping patterns and stomach/digestion, which was better, but not ideal yet. I got her to try something new, and more specific.
Reflux in Western Medicine basically means the lower Oesophageal sphincter is not closing properly, because the stomach is too acid and the valve is not working properly.
What the basically means is the pipe that your food goes down is not able to close where is connects to the stomach. 😄😃
Why this occurs in Western Medicine remains unclear. Why this occurs in Nutritional Medicine is very clear. The stomach is too acidic which starts to inflame the body and stop it working properly. I have never seen an alkaline person suffer from this in all my years of clinical experience, only an acidic one.
I prescribed her bitter green salads, as I have never found anything that works better than this, which can be added to normal salads and eaten daily. This includes;
- Dandelion leaves (My favourite, cool the blood and takes heat out of the Liver)
- Mustard leaf
Assortment of bitter greens and other plants, you can grow a lot in a small area!
Not all of these were used, just two or three mixed in with iceberg or cos lettuce. You can use them all, but only if you are hard core…
These are easily grown at home or bought from farmers markets.
3rd consult 3rd April 2018
She continued with the nutritional intervention, kept up the fasting, ate her green salad daily and continued to exercise because she felt well enough to, not because I told her to.
Her bowels were now firm and regular. She had not just improved her stomach function, but she now had no reflux. None. It had been many years since she could say this.
She had lost weight and was generally feeling quite well overall, except for her chronic issues with her neck, which were unrelated to why she came and saw me. I am also a multi-trained remedial therapist so I spent 20 minutes working on the soft tissue of her neck.
4th consult 17th April 2018
Her results were less impressive as she had been to Italy for holiday. She had tried to follow the rules but it is always tough when if a foreign country and on holiday.
She had not lost weight and was constipated. She was disappointed, I was not having seen this many times before.
Upon returning to Perth it took her a few weeks to get back on track, but she quickly corrected her eating habits, lost another 3 kg’s and continued to improve.
5th consult 11th July 2018
She returned to clinic and could not believe her results. Her triglycerides were very slightly elevated, but still within acceptable levels.
Her HDL cholesterol was now 3.4!!!!
Despite the hiccup with Italy she had managed to drop her HLD cholesterol form 4.4 to 3.4, which is a whole point and a fantastic result. 😃😃😃
From 30/01/2018 to 20/06/2018 LDL Cholesterol fell by 1 whole point. Remember her first consult with me was on March 13 2018.
She decided to take 20mg Rosuvastatin despite her amazing results
Her specialist could not believe that such a result was possible without drug therapy. This shows the power of Nutritional Medicine and getting the right advice. Upon further discussion with her cardiologist she did decide to take medication (Rosuvastatin/Crestor 20mg) despite her results – which she was very happy with.
She did not want to tell me this as she assumed I would disapprove and not want to work with her in future. Nothing could be further from the truth. My job is to assist patients with their health issues, not pass moral judgement on them. I understand her decision considering her family history.
With my advice, and more importantly her dedication she got herself out of the danger zone and continues to improve. It is too easy to go for the easy option and just take the drug, while ignoring the real reason you have the issue in the first place.
If you liked this case study share it with somebody who needs to know about it, and if you would like to discuss your individual case feel free to contact me at the clinic. Wishing you health and happiness for whatever you decide to do!