LEARN ABOUTH NATURAL SUBSTANCES TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL...
CHOLESTEROL AND HOMOCYSTEINE ARE NATURAL ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF YOUR BODY...
SO.....HOW DID YOURS GET OUT OF CONTROL????
YOU'VE ARRIVED AT THE RIGHT PLACE TO LEARN THE SIMPLE SECRETS OF MANAGING YOUR HOMOCYSTEINE (HOMOCYSTINE) TO LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL.....NATURALLY!!...DRUG - FREE!!
CHOLESTEROL IS NOT THE BAD GUY!!!
By Dr. Deb Baker © 2006-2012
In my near 3 decades of practising alternative medicine, I've come to appreciate how hard it is for people to get straight answers about their health and what THEY can do about making themselves better...to live a healthier, natural existence without the problems of drug induced side effects...causing further health problems instead of solving their health problems.
To help as many people as I can...I have written this page and offer you this information..free...so you can start to take control of your body....Enjoy!
-THE TRUTH ABOUT CHOLESTEROL..AND NATURAL SUBSTANCES TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL...
-NATURALLY LOWERING CHOLESTEROL WITH HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS.
-WHAT DOES HOMOCYSTEINE (HOMOCYSTINE) HAVE TO DO WITH LOWERING HIGH CHOLESTEROL?
© Dr. Deborah Baker 2001-2010
HOMOCYSTEINE...(Not HomocysTINE) To Lower Cholesterol
Researchers now believe homocysteine is over 40% more accurate to predict heart disease than cholesterol.
disease causes 44% of all deaths in the United States. Alzheimer's
dementia affects 4 million Americans now, and is expected to increase
sharply as the population ages. Both cardiovascular and Alzheimer's
disease have now been linked to the accumulation of a toxic amino acid
called homocysteine. (See my article on Alzheimer’s Disease for
Vitamin supplement users have assumed they are being protected
against homocysteine elevations.
First a word on cholesterol....
Cholesterol is a very important part of your biochemistry. Its needed to make hormones, Vit D3, its needed for bile salts to digest fats, it acts as an antioxidant, protecting us from cancer and aging, our cell walls would just not work or have the proper structure to protect their internal environment from the exterior medium. It has a huge role in memory, brain function and even the "feel good" hormone, serotonin and the list goes on. You cannot live without it.
High cholesterol levels have been re-defined over the past few years to be lower and lower, resulting on more people being put on statin drugs. As you will see below..adverse side effects from long term use of statin drugs is becoming more and more apparent.
What I am addressing on this page is a particular chemistry associated with high levels of homocysteine...in my opinion, brought on by our generally nutrient poor diets in the western world. Foods are over-processed, people choose fast-convenient food over home prepared from scratch meals.
As a result the essential nutrients, B6, B12, folic acid and trimethylglycine are in low levels and hence the correction of the homocysteine cycle is what is needed. These are all in natural substances used to lower cholesterol.
Homocysteine is formed by the body as a naturally synthesized byproduct of methionine ( a very important amino acid in your body) metabolism. Like cholesterol, homocysteine performs a necessary function in the body, after which, if the right cofactors are present, it will eventually convert to cysteine (and this is one of the amino acids needed to produce glutathione, which is very critical in your detoxifications pathways.) and other beneficial compounds such as ATP, (the energy molecule of the body) and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), creatine, choline, part of your RNA and DNA messangers and epinephrine..these are all critical elements of your healthy biochemistry.
The main sites of metabolism are in the kidney and liver (more on the liver here)- and good levels of folic acid are required to keep homocysteine low.
When left intact, it enters the bloodstream and begins attacking blood vessel walls, laying the foundation for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
The clear message from new scientific findings is that there is no safe "normal range" for homocysteine. While commercial laboratories state that normal homocysteine can range from 5 to 15 micromoles per liter of blood, epidemiological data reveal that homocysteine levels above 6.3 cause a steep, progressive risk of heart attack (the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, Nov. 15, 1995, 2825-30). One study found each 3-unit increase in homocysteine equals a 35% increase in myocardial-infarction (heart-attack) risk (American Journal of Epidemiology, 1996, 143:845-59).
There are over 130 studies which show that increased homocysteint is a cardio vascular disease factor.
Many enzymes, or catalysts are involved in the complete metabolism of homocysteine. If any of these enzymes is defective or functions inefficiently, the body is less able to successfully process homocysteine. Although this enzyme dysfunction may be due to a mutated or defective gene, ( identified by Dr. Rima Rozen at McGill University in Montreal), more often this breakdown in metabolism is due to deficiencies of certain nutrients. . .particularly B-6, B-12 and folic acid.
When this function is disordered, whether due to genetic defect or nutrient deficiency, homocysteine accumulates and enters the bloodstream where it promotes oxidation of lipids, causes platelets to stick together, enhances the binding of lipoprotein (a) to fibrin and promotes free radical damage to the inside of arteries.
Factors which increase homocysteine:
Some have suggested that the obvious solution to reducing homocysteine would be to restrict methionine intake by restricting foods such as meats that are rich in methionine. Then the supermarket shelves would be lined with low methionine and methionine-free foods. That makes about as much sense as switching cabins on the Titanic. Methionine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is involved in the synthesis of protein, important in the maintenance of cartilage, and needed for the formation of other important amino acids such as taurine and carnitine. Methionine is not at fault. The problem is when homocysteine cannot be converted.
Reducing Homocysteine Levels
The good news is...elevated homocysteine levels, whether due to nutrient
deficiencies or defective genes, can easily be normalized in virtually
all cases, simply and inexpensively, using a combination of nutritional
supplements. The most effective defense against homocysteine buildup
is a combination of vitamins B-6 and B-12, folio acid and trimethylglycine
So you have a way to naturally lower cholesterol.
So you have a way to naturally lower cholesterol.
There are three biochemical pathways used by the body to reduce homocysteine. In one pathway TMG donates a methyl group which detoxifies homocysteine. In this reaction, TMG is reduced to DMG (dimethylglycine), that familiar-product sold as a supplement for its energizing effects. In the other routes, folic acid, B12 and B6 convert homocysteine into nontoxic substances. Some people can't utilize one or another of these pathways. That is why a combination of all these nutrients is most effective for lowering homocysteine. In some people vitamin B may not be efficiently converted to its active co-enzyme form, pyridoxyl-5-phosphate. In that case supplementing with pyridoxyl-5-phosphate would be necessary. There we go again..good health depends on nutrition and yet many medical types insist nutrition has nothing to do with overall health!
Trimethylglycine (aka TMG) is the biochemical term for betaine. TMG is able to donate methyl groups (a methyl group is one carbon molecule and three hydrogens..very, very important to our chemistries) to biochemical events and in the case of homocysteine this leads to the increased production of S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM or sometimes it is written SAMe) which is the bioactive form of the amino acid methionine…also a methyl donor. SAM has been used successfully to treat problems such as cirrhosis of the liver, depression, osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia.
Methyl groups are thought to protect cellular DNA from mutation, a process which is also helped by good antioxidants. As people age, they often do not have enough available methyl groups to safeguard DNA. Abnormal methylation patterns are found in many people with cancer. Eating foods that contain methyl groups such as beets, green leafy vegetables and legumes is helpful, but these must be eaten in relatively large quantities several times a week. Therefore, dietary supplements such as TMG may often be necessary to provide the body with sufficient protective methyl groups.
Betaine comes from beet sugar and is extracted through a very complex process. Don’t think the betaine HCL you see in digestive supports is the same thing..it isn’t. It has not been shown that betaine HCL is a methyl donator..although it may be..it is very acidic and for long term use, would not be a good plan.
There are essentially two ways to lower homocysteine levels. One, the most common, would be to add methyl groups to it to convert it to methionine or SAMe.
This is accomplished, as mentioned, through TMG (which as its name suggests, has three methyl groups on each glycine molecule – glycine is another amino acid. They are transferred to homocysteine, but need the help of folic acid, vitamin B12, and zinc.
Another methyl donor of importance is choline and this remethylation of homocysteine does NOT need co-factors. One hitch, though, is that this process is only active in the liver and kidneys..so to protect the whole body, in particular the brain one should be sure to take a complex with all factors present.
The second pathway to lower homocysteine involves converting it into cysteine (an very important amino acid), which then through a cascade of chemistry becomes glutathione. This pathway is dependent on vitamin B6 and the exact amount needed to lower homocysteine from person to person can vary greatly. It is only the amino acid methionine which can create homocysteine and the amount of that in someone’s diet, really depends on the individual’s diet. One higher in red meat and chicken would be higher in methionine and so this person would need more B6 (and the other co-factors for that matter) to ensure the clearing of homocysteine.
Elevated homocysteine can also be caused by a genetic defect that blocks the trans-sulfuration pathway (the path which ultimately changes it to glutathione) by inducing a deficiency of the vitamin B6-dependent enzyme cystathionine-B-synthase. In this case, high doses of vitamin B6 are required to suppress excessive homocysteine accumulation. Since one would not want to take excessive doses of vitamin B6 (greater than 300 to 500 mg a day for a long time period), a homocysteine blood test can help determine whether you are taking enough vitamin B6 to keep homocysteine levels in a safe range. There are some people who lack an enzyme to convert vitamin B6 into its biologically active form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate. In this case, if low-cost vitamin B6 supplements do not sufficiently lower homocysteine levels, then a high-cost pyridoxal-5-phosphate supplement may be required. I generally suggest to my patients to take the bio-active form without thinking about the cheaper brands.
For many people, the daily intake of 500 mg of TMG, 800 mcg of folic acid, 1000 mcg of vitamin B12, 250 mg of choline, 250 mg of inositol, 30 mg of zinc, and 100 mg of vitamin B6 will keep homocysteine levels in a safe range. But the only way to really know is to have your blood tested to make sure your homocysteine levels are under 7. If homocysteine levels are too high, then up to 6 grams of TMG may be needed along with higher amounts of other remethylation cofactors. Some people with cystathione-B synthase deficiencies will require 500 mg a day or more of vitamin B6 to reduce homocysteine to a safe level. For the prevention of cardiovascular disease, you would want your homocysteine blood level to be under 7. For the prevention of aging, some people have suggested that an even lower level is desirable, but more research needs to be done before any scientific conclusions can be reached.
A Life Extension article (July, 1997), sites these cases of people with problems in these pathways. “People with these disorders frequently die of cardiovascular disease before reaching adulthood. In one case history report, a 16-year-old Japanese girl was unable to walk with or without support, and had severe peripheral neuropathy, muscle weakness and convulsions. Her vascular system was on the verge of collapse. B6 or B12 didn't help. Folic acid lowered homocysteine, but didn't improve her symptoms. Two months after adding TMG to the regimen, her homocysteine level dropped and she was able to walk with support. Seventeen months later, she was free from convulsions and able to walk normally again.
Homocysteine is Not a New Story
Also from the Life Extension article – “The homocysteine theory of cardiovascular risk was first tested and published by Dr. Kilmer McCully in 1969, but, with everyone focusing on cholesterol at that time, his findings were ignored. Finally, almost 30 years later, the word is out on homocysteine. In addition to NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, articles have been published in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Prevention magazine and more.”
Homocysteines relationship to heart disease may explain some things that cholesterol never could. These B vitamins and homocysteine are so interrelated that homocysteine levels could be used to assess vitamin status. This could explain the increase in heart disease which has occurred in women over the past two decades which coincides with the use of birth control pills. Birth control pills deplete vitamin B6 and raise homocysteine levels. Smoking, a known risk factor for heart disease, also depletes vitamin B6 and smokers generally have low levels of folio acid and vitamin B12...all needed for homocysteine metabolism. Its not surprising that the statistics linking smoking to heart disease are similar to those linking high homocysteine levels to heart disease.(l)
The homocysteine story may explain some of the increases in heart disease that the cholesterol scare never could. We also know now that things like taking birth control bills and smoking deprive the body of vitamin B6 (and also B12 and folic acid in smoking). These both add to the risk of heart attack and it may be because of the effect on the homocysteine nutrients that they pose risk.
In general I recommend about 500 mg of TMG per day, 800 mcg of folic acid, (preferrably in the active MTHF form) 500 mcg of B12, 25 mg of B6 and 5 mg of zinc. This should of course be taken in divided doses over the day. Clinically, I use Vessel Care from Metagenics.
Methylation/Homocysteine and Other Disease
I cannot speak enough of the importance of the process of methylation to our health and functions. For one, it is essential to DNA repair, which if not repaired will result in breaks and mutation. This in turn leads to accelerated aging because of larger amounts of “half-baked” or even dangerous proteins being produced. In fact, in a journal Medical Hypothesis (1998, 51:179-221), it was suggested that aging, period, could be a result of cellular demethylation, or in other words, a slowing of “re-methylation” needed to maintain and repair DNA. Methylation is a key process in the liver with respect to its ability to detoxify our bodies. It is needed for the growth of new cells, nerve sheath production (myelination) and a whole host of other critical processes.
Homocysteine is a “biggy” for interfering with the whole methylation pathway. High homocysteine speaks to us of poor methylation in a patient. Homocysteine may also be causing damage through oxidative stress (free radical formation). This is the reason I use a good antioxidant with most protocols such as Metagenic’s Oxygenics or Naturpharm’s Super A/O.
PART TWO – BOTANICAL AND OTHER SUPPLEMENT SUPPORT
Guggul is the name given to the yellowish resin produced by the stem of the mukul myrrh (Commiphora mukul) tree found throughout India. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries in the treatment of arthritis, obesity, and one of its prime uses was for “medoroga”. Medoroga is basically an ancient diagnosis for what we know as atherosclerosis. It was effective for this problem because of its ability to lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
Guggul extract isolates contain safe plant steroid compounds known as guggulsterones, which have been shown to lower lipid levels in your blood. They actually lower serum triglycerides and cholesterol, as well as LDL VLDL cholesterols (the “bad” ones) and as a bonus..raises HDL cholesterol (the “good” guys). Guggulsterones also act as antioxidants in that they keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, protecting you further from atherosclerosis. Guggul has also decreased the “stickiness” of platelets, which of course also lowers the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke. There was a study which actually found guggul extract similar and even slightly better than clobfibrate for lowering cholesterol levels.
I recommend 75 mg. of guggulsterones, twice per day. Most formulations contain 250-375 mg. of guggul at a 10% content of guggulsterones which is inadequate. That is why I choose Lipotain from Metagenics for its superior amount and quality. I would keep this up for 2-3 months and then have cholesterol checked. When it comes down, reduce the guggul to once per day.
There are no real side effects associated with guggul. In earlier times, when the crude oleoresin was used, side effects such as diarrhea, anorexia, abdominal pain and skin rash were reported. The modern extracts are much more purified and this is no longer the case. Clinically I use Lipotain from Metagenics which also contains niacin in the safer Inositol Hexanicotinate form.
For some time, some practitioners have been using high amounts of niacin (Vitamin B3) (also called nicotinic acid) to lower cholesterol. The problem with this is that at the doses needed, about 3 grams per day, divided dosing, patients experience side effects of flushing, headache, stomach pains and even chronic liver damage, diabetic responses, gastritis or stomach inflammation, eye damage and even gout. The other common form of B3 – niacinamide (also called nicotinamide) – does NOT help cholesterol levels.
An acceptable variation on niacin called inositol hexaniacinate has more recently been prescribed by European doctors for cholesterol treatment without the unwanted effects of niacin. It is used at the 500 to 1,000 mg. taken three times per day. It is newer and fewer studies have been done, so if one takes it, make sure you have your cholesterol monitored to evaluate its effectiveness and have liver enzymes, uric acid and glucose levels checked just to be sure you are not one of the people prone to problems with B3 therapy. This is the form of B3 found in Lipotain from Metagenics.
Guggul is a phytosterol or plant steroid. Not, like the harmful steroids of pharmaceutical fame, though. Another, Beta-sitosterol alone and with other plant sterols, lowers blood levels of cholesterol. This probably happens becaust beta-sitosterol blocks the absorption of cholesterol. Beta-sitosterol (and others such as campesterol, stigmasterol, etc.) are found in high levels in rice bran, wheat germ corn oils and soybeans.
My recommedation is to take 200 – 250 mg. three times per day, preferably before meals to block the cholesterol. My recommendation of choice is Meta-Sitosterol by Metagenics.
MORE HEALTHY LIFESTYLE FEATURES:
Supplementing with E-Complex 1:1 Vitamin E (800 IU per day), Ultra Potent Vitamin C (3 grams per day), and Super Garlic 6000 garlic supplements (600 – 900 mg per day) all have shown to be very helpful in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
WHAT DO STATINS DO?
Statins (formally called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors..because of this enzyme which they inhibit from being produced) work by cutting off a pathway in your body which ultimately results in the production of cholesterol. But..as with most chemicals, it knows no boundaries...and with the blocking of this enzyme..there are a cascade of problems in that a whole family of intermediary substances ..many if not all have very important jobs to do in your body...are also blocked.
There have been cases of people born with an inherent defect to make melvonate (this is the first step to our body's making cholesterol). These children are mentally handicapped, anemic, have frequent fevers, etc. This would represent the extreme in low cholesterol levels...you do not want to be there.
One of the major problems is that Coenzyme-Q10 production is also halted. This is essential in the production of ATP our basic energy molecule produced within the cells.
The heart muscle and our cell's membranes for nerve and muscle integrity require a constant, high level of Co-Q10.
Co-Q10 is also vital to the production of elastin and collagen..the basis for the structure of skin, muscle and tendons. This is the reason that one of the most serious effects of statin use is back and muscle pain, weakness, inflammation of tendons and ligaments...even to the point of rupture.
Active people such as athletes are more affected by statins than are the sedentary type. People with fibromyalgia , chronic fatigue, etc. should not go NEAR these drugs....as they would make their problems worse.
Heart symptoms and problems include HEART ATTACK!!! Isn't that what we are trying to prevent???
Dolichols also play a role of immense importance. In the cells they direct various proteins manufactured in response to DNA directives to their proper targets, ensuring that the cells respond correctly to genetically programmed instruction. Thus statin drugs can lead to unpredictable chaos on the cellular level, much like a computer virus that wipes out certain pathways or files.
Squalene, the immediate precursor to cholesterol, has anti-cancer effects, according to research.
Very recent research suggests that statins...in the short term..may help decrease actual heart diesease..but this probably because it acts as an antioxidant..NOT because it blocks cholesterol production.
From Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon in their Statin report...Dr. Enig has summarized some of the more popular and "telling" studies:
(1) Schatz IJ and others. Lancet 2001 Aug 4;358:351-355
(2) The ALLHAT Officers and Coordinators for the ALLHAT Collaborative Research Group. JAMA 2002;288:2998-3007
(3) Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group. Lancet 2002;360:7-22.
(4). Medical Research Council/British Heart Foundation Heart Protection Study.Press release. Life-saver: World’s largest cholesterol-lowering trial reveals massive benefits for high-risk patients. Available at www.ctsu.ox.ac.uk/~hps/pr.shtml.
(5). Kmietowicz A. BMJ 2001;323:1145
(6). Ravnskov U. BMJ 2002;324:789
(7) Shepherd J and others. Lancet 2002;360:1623-1630.
(8) Hecht HS and others. Am J Cardiol 2003;92:334-336
(9) Sever PS and others. Lancet 2003;361:1149-1158.
(10) Jenkins AJ. BMJ 2003 Oct 18;327(7420):933.
(11) Circulation, 2004 Feb 17;109(6):714-21.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to write me Dr. Deb's E-Mail and I will be glad to help you!