Ask the Herbalist: Lower Cholestrol

Garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and reishi can help lower cholesterol.

| March/April 2001

  • Garlic can help with cholesterol woes.

Recipe To Lower Cholesterol: Ginger Tea 

My mother has very high cholesterol (275). She’s sixty-seven and refuses to take her prescription medication. I think that’s okay, but I’d like to help her with some herbs. I’ve instructed her to eat lots of oat bran and oatmeal. She takes four capsules (500 mg each) of garlic three times a day. Is there anything else she can do or take to help her lower her cholesterol?
—C. B., Helendale, California 

Willard responds: This is a fairly common problem in our clinic. The four most important herbs to consider are garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum), and reishi. We should also consider Syndrome X as a possible cause of this problem.

Garlic is useful in controlling and preventing atherosclerosis and lowering blood cholesterol. It not only lowers total serum cholesterol (6 to 12 percent in three months), it lowers the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) 12 to 15 percent while increasing the HDL (“good” cholesterol). I usually suggest 1,000 mg twice daily.

Ginger may lower both serum and hepatic cholesterol while inhibiting platelet aggregation. I often use ginger tea for this but have also used 250 to 500 mg in capsule form twice daily.

Cayenne is a strong, local circulatory stimulant. In studies, cayenne has significantly lowered both plasma cholesterol and triglycerides, but even more important, it has improved patients’ LDL to HDL ratio. Capsaicin, cayenne’s active constituent, has been shown to decrease platelet aggregation while thinning the blood by a different mechanism than aspirin. I usually give this in capsule form, 250 to 500 mg during two meals daily.

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