Hyperlipidemia nowadays contributes to an average 4.5% of all deaths occurring in the world! Let us have a peek into what hyperlipidemia is as well as related facts.
Hyperlipidemia is a condition in which high levels of cholesterol are found to be present in the blood of an individual. Cholesterol is a lipid variant that is normally present in the human body within certain conventional limits. It is required for normal synthesis of some hormones, bile salts and vitamin D. As it is insoluble in water, it needs lipoproteins for its transportation within the body. That is the reason why they are always found in association with lipoproteins. When there are elevated levels of the lipoproteins, particularly the low density lipoproteins, then the individual is under higher risks of developing coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis-like conditions. On the contrary, a higher level of high density lipoproteins, though also associated with cholesterol, acts as a protection against such conditions.
Values of Serum Cholesterol :
- Normal – Below 200 mg/dl
- High but manageable – 200-239 mg/dl
- High – Above 240 mg/dl
An elevated cholesterol level can gather and get piled up within the arterial walls, leading to reduced blood flow to the heart, brain and other body parts. This can further lead to thrombosis and eventually heart attack or even a stroke!
Causative factors for high cholesterol levels mostly include lifestyle anomalies like sedentary habits, a diet rich in saturated fats, smoking, alcohol intake, etc. The condition can often be comprehended from certain pathological conditions like diabetes, hypertension, liver disorders or even cardiac disorders. This could also be taken over in families over successive generations due to genetic predispositions.
Conventional treatments for hypercholesterolemia involve the use of medicines, mostly statins that restrict the natural synthesis of cholesterol from liver. But continuous use of such inhibitor medications can lead to secondary accumulation of by products of these chemicals which turn out to be harmful, often carcinogenic or causing other systemic anomalies. Common side effects of such medications include myopathies, increased concentrations of liver enzymes, minor cognitive defects, increased risk of developing diabetes, etc.
Role of ayurveda in Hyperlipidemia :
Ayurveda recognizes cholesterol to be a part of ‘Medas dhatu‘ metabolism. According to Ayurveda there are seven types of dhatus or tissues which are generated from the metabolised nutrient parts derived from the food that we take. They are individually generated from the previous ones through an intricate tissue level metabolism with the help of corresponding dhatu agni (tissue fire). Medas or fat is considered as the fourth dhatu or tissue among the seven. Diet, lifestyle changes as well as other etiological factors that are dowering up will lead into a diminution in the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the digestive fire (agni). This in turn reflects upon the sequential fragments in the tissue level. This ends up in improper/insufficient generation of the subsequent tissues. Hence, each tissue gets developed in an erroneous manner, often giving rise to malefic secondary by-products. This leads to generation and accumulation of such malefic products in unusual quantities as well. Often, this kind of altered metabolism at the level of medas dhatu (fat tissue) leads to excessive formation of complex lipid side-products like cholesterol, triglycerides etc. These, due to predominance of kleda (fluid constituents) and prithvi (earth element) have certain adhesive disposition, resulting in them getting accumulated within their carrier channels i.e. the blood vessels (dhamani pratichaya) . This in turn can cause hypoxia and later, cellular degeneration. Acute attacks can cause conditions like an ischemic stroke etc.
Ayurvedic management basically intends on maintaining a normal healthy level of cholesterol and other products of lipid metabolism as well. For this to be possible, the bio-fire (agni) has to be functioning spontaneously. This will lead to a better assimilation of the medas (fat) and Kleda (fluid constituents) while balancing theKapha dosha as well.
Usage of certain herbs like Kokum (Garcinia indica), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna),Bhumi amalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Lashuna (Garlic), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul),Haridra (Turmeric), Methika (Fenugreek), Dhanyaka (Coriander), Alfalfa (Medicago satina), Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) etc has been found to be effective in bringing about a healthy level of cholesterol in the body.
But when it comes to diet and lifestyle, there is a huge role for easily digestible and lighter foods along with adequate exercises. Green leafy vegetables and a fibre rich diet rule the diet chart. This can include more fibre rich veggies, sources of Omega 3 fatty acids like flax seeds, fish liver oil, spices like turmeric, coriender, cinnamon, basil, etc. Avoiding rich sources of saturated fats, trans- fats, heavy and oily diet like red meat, milk products etc. can help. Regular consumption of natural drinks like buttermilk is found to be beneficial in removing the unwanted lipid derivatives too.
Shifting to an active mode, leaving behind a sedentary lifestyles and taking up to more exercise and following a daily regimen as advocated in the Ayurvedic classics can very well put one high up in the path towards a better health.
Ayurvedic formulations effective in the management of Hyperlipidemia :
Ayurvedic management being more personalized rather than generalized can leave us with infinite possibilities in therapeutics. Generally, the strategy is to attain a better metabolism functioning (agni deepthi) and at the same time, remove any toxic accumulation in the body channels to have a dehiscent flow of the inclusions within (Srotoshuddhi). These tend to be Kapha dosha reducing as well. Other impairments due to associated dosha imbalances shall be dealt with accordingly.
Decoctions like Varanadi Kashayam, Vara asanadi kashayam, Rasonadi kashayam, Punarnavadi kashayam, Kaidaryadi kashayam, Guluchyadi kashayam, Chitrakadi kashayam, Maha thiktakam kashayam etc are effectively prescribed.
Tablets, Chandraprabha gulika, Trifala guggulu, Vyoshadi Guggulu, Punarnava Guggulu etc also yield good results alongside powder formulations like Shaddharana choornam, Ashta choornam as well as Pancha kola choornam are also found to be effective in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia.
Ayurvedic panchakarma therapies are also implemented for the management of Hypercholesterolemia. Panchakarma therapies like Vaman (induced vomiting),Virechana (induced purgation) or Vasti procedures (Medicated enema) like Kshaya Vasti can be favorably induced in hyperlipidemia.