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According to the 2010 National Health Survey published in 2011, more than one in six Singaporeans aged 18–69 suffer from high total blood cholesterol. Can TCM keep cholesterol levels down?
While there is no clear term or definition for cholesterol in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is usually associated with the dysfunction of the Spleen and Liver. Disruptions to the functions of these organs due to poor lifestyle and diets will affect the accumulation of cholesterol in the body.
According to Physician Li, symptoms of high cholesterol include:
In TCM, a person's inability to digest efficiently may affect how cholesterol is processed and stored in the body. Similarly with blood and fluid circulation: slower fluid circulation will encourage more or larger deposits of cholesterol, while poor blood circulation is seen in many types of arthritic disorders as well as some types of cardiovascular diseases. Excretory system dysfunction is also a huge indicator, as the relationship between the Liver and bile production is critical to ensure cholesterol is eliminated efficiently when bile is released.
TCM calls for a comprehensive regime with herbs and acupuncture to treat the spleen and liver once a diagnosis has established the body constitution and the root of the problem. Alongside acupuncture, Physician Li recommends the use of these herbs to manage your cholesterol levels:
• Hawthorn fruit lowers blood lipids and treats certain cardiovascular diseases
• Red yeast rice contains natural statins to invigorate the body, aids digestion and revitalises the Blood, lowering LDL cholesterol
• Cassia seeds promote bowel movement, inhibit hyperlipidemic formation and reduce weight gain from nutritive obesity
• Coix seeds improve digestion and treat hypolipidemia
• Finger citron fruit treats poor digestion, improves appetite and lowers blood cholesterol
• Pu-erh tea contains natural statins
• Oyster mushroom contains natural statins
Besides these TCM solutions, Physician Li advises those with cholesterol problems to:
• Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good quality fats
• Sleep and exercise
• Consume alcohol, meat and dairy products that contain high amounts of saturated fats
• Late nights
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock. This article first appeared in NATURA magazine issue No.4.
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