Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Herbs For Man That Help Your Heart (Part II)

Red Yeast (Monascus purpureus), cultivated on rice, contains several HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors related chemically to the popular statin prescription drugs. These protect by stimulating the formation of good (HDL) cholesterol and reducing the production of bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Clinical trials have shown that daily consumption of four 600-mg capsules of a standardized red yeast product (called Cholestin) produced significant reductions in serum levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides.

The Food and Drug Administration tried to ban over-the-counter Cholestin, because it felt Cholestin's active ingredients were too closely related to those in the statin prescription drugs. An appeals court rescinded the ban. As of now, you can still buy Cholestin, but its status could change if the ruling is reversed.

Guggul (Commiphora mukul) is an oleo gum resin derived from the trunk of a tree grown in India. There, a few studies have confirmed its ability to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in both small animals and humans. In one study, people were given 500 mg of gugulipid, one of the herb's active components, for 12 weeks. Cholesterol dropped by 24% and triglycerides dropped by 23% in 80% of the people studied. Guggul appears to be safe, though it may cause stomach upset. (Pregnant women should never take it because it tends to stimulate uterine contractions.)

Quick Tip: Take one 25-mg capsule of standardized guggulsterone three times a day until cholesterol levels normalize, then reduce dosage to one capsule daily.

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