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Can Heart Disease Be Prevented and Reversed?

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A Cheap And Effective Way To Kill Cholesterol

Berberine, traditionally used as an over-the-counter remedy for diarrhea caused by bacterial infection, can lower levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) significantly and works in a different way from statin drugs like Lipitor or Zocor. A group of researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City published their animal and human studies of Berberine in the journal Nature Medicine in 2005.

Statin works by blocking cholesterol formation in liver cells. This cholesterol shortage causes more cholesterol receptors to appear on the cell surface in an effort to pull cholesterol from the blood to make up for the deficit. As a result, blood cholesterol levels drop. In contrast, berberine works in a way that does not depend on how much cholesterol is in the cell. The herb increases the number of cholesterol receptors on the cell surface but it does this by stabilizing and improving the process by which the receptors are formed.

The scientists in fact screened 700 Chinese remedies in laboratory tests and eventually found that berberine had the greatest effect in increasing cholesterol receptors. Further testing showed that receptor levels were increased further when the herb was used together with a statin.

A study was then conducted to assess cholesterol levels in a group of 91 patients with high cholesterol who were treated with Berberine or an inactive placebo for 3 months. It was found that the herb lowered total cholesterol by 18 percent and LDL by 20 percent. No effect on levels of HDL (good cholesterol) was seen, however. A subset of patients who were not taking any other medications or herbs before or during the study was analyzed. Berberine lowered their total cholesterol by 29 percent and LDL by 25 percent.

Berberine appears to be safe and is also extremely cheap, costing about 75 US cents (in 2005) a day.

While the effect of berberine was small compared with that of statin, the dose used for the trial was only moderate. Larger effects may be seen with larger dose. As the herb does work in a different way as statin, it could potentially be combined with statin to reduce cholesterol levels even further. Therefore, further studies are necessary to ascertain the best dose for treatment and the effect of the combination with statin.

 

 

 

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