By Decker Weiss, NMD, FASA, Special for US Daily Review.
In over 13 years of clinical practice as a naturopathic cardiologist, I have had zero patients who developed congestive heart failure. I have had one patient experience a stroke, and two patients experience a heart attack. These statistics are unheard of for conventional cardiologists. How have my patients achieved such spectacular results? It is not through the regular use of synthetic drugs—it is through a judicious blending of mainstream and natural medicine practices.
As a naturopathic cardiologist, I have a unique perspective on the treatment of heart disease. I firmly believe that the reason that, despite billions of dollars in annual sales, prescription drugs are failing to stop or reverse heart disease is because they are used to treat a theory of heart disease (the risk of elevated LDL cholesterol levels) – rather than an actual underlying cause.
If we want to get serious about eliminating a preventable disease, we need to stop focusing on theories such as LDL cholesterol reduction and focus on what we know are the underlying causes of disease: oxidation and inflammation. Did you know that at the same time that sales for drugs to lower cholesterol have increased to over $20 billion dollars annually, hospitalizations for congestive heart failure have tripled? Did you know that almost half a million Americans are diagnosed with congestive heart failure every year, and half of them will be dead in less than 5 years? Statistically, this is faster than cancer!
In my opinion, the greater the increase in statin drug use, the more Americans that will die of heart failure. Trading heart attacks for heart failure may be acceptable in the conventional system, but this is not how I want to treat my patients. In your body, there is oxidized and non-oxidized LDL cholesterol. What you want to stop is the oxidation of LDL. In the presence of inflammation, the disease process begun by oxidized LDL accelerates. Why don’t all patients with elevated (oxidized) cholesterol get heart disease? Because they don’t all have inflammation! Inflammation sets off a process which drives the oxidized LDL cholesterol into the arteries. This is “plaque formation.” These plaques can fill up the artery, blocking blood flow, or rupture, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Indian Gooseberry Prevents Oxidation
One of my favorite natural treatments is Indian gooseberry, or amla. This fruit from India has been an important part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Modern research has unlocked the reasons for its success in treating heart disease. Amla is an antioxidant – it can stop the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the first step in heart disease. It is also able to increase levels of the good, protective cholesterol, HDL. In a human clinical trial, use of Amla was associated with a 21% decrease in LDL cholesterol, and a whopping 14% increase in HDL cholesterol levels. While theories on reducing LDL cholesterol are debated, the benefits of raising HDL are not. For every 1% increase in HDL levels, your risk of heart disease is reduced by 2-3%, so this finding is extremely significant.
Curcumin Stops Inflammation
Another excellent natural intervention that I use in my clinical practice is curcumin. This compound, found in the spice turmeric, has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, it can address both of the root causes of heart disease! In one clinical study, patients taking curcumin had a 29% increase in HDL cholesterol levels. The biggest problem with curcumin is absorption, so I prefer to use only curcumin that has published human studies showing it absorbs up to 10 times better than plain curcumin. It should also remain in the blood stream a minimum of 8 hours.
I like to combine curcumin with other natural antioxidants, such as resveratrol and green tea. New research has found that curcumin and resveratrol act synergistically. That is, together they have more powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity than when used alone. These herbs help stop plaque formation, reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and can keep inflammation in the arteries to a minimum.
Last, but certainly not least, I put all of my patients on omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3s, from a clean fish source, such as salmon, slow the formation of plaque, reduce inflammation, make blood “slippery” and may even reduce the effects of aging. I encourage them to eat fatty ocean fish several times a week. I also recommend a good, clean omega fatty acid supplement daily. Notice that I didn’t say “oil.” I have found that salmon omega-3s that are bound to phospholipids instead of fish oils, in which the omega-3s are bound to triglycerides, have superior absorption and impact.
Stop – Or Reverse – Heart Disease
In the 1900s, people died from infectious diseases. Today, we are dying from inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The sad irony is that this doesn’t have to happen. Natural medicine has safe, natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory interventions that can stop, or even reverse, heart disease. And these benefits aren’t just for the heart. Oxidation and inflammation are behind many of our modern chronic illnesses. Why wait another day in starting your journey back to optimal heart health?
Best Nursing Schools offers more resources and education about heart disease.
Dr. Decker Weiss is a pioneer in the application of effective natural alternatives to bypass and angioplasty. He has helped thousands of patients with his definitive holistic approach to cardiovascular disease management. He is the first naturopathic physician to complete a residency program in the Columbia Hospital System, the Arizona Heart Hospital and the prestigious Arizona Heart Institute and maintains a private practice in Scottsdale, AZ. Dr. Weiss was the first naturopathic physician to be chosen as a Fellow of the American Society of Angiology and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for EuroPharma.