This can be a very touchy topic. For the most part, the allopathic medical profession's take on cholesterol is “the lower, the better”. For many years, begrudgingly, I bought into that paradigm. My husband's cholesterol values were always well below the recommended high end of 200mg total cholesterol. No red flags seemed to go up, so we simply kept up our practice of eating very well, exercising, not smoking; everything we needed to do to stay healthy and functional in all ways.
At one point, however, my husband started having terrible headaches; unlike any headache he had ever had. The only change in routine that he could think of was that for several days he had been taking Wobenzym to holistically treat knee pain, in addition to his usual supplement/herbal regimen. He had taken Wobenzym on numerous occassions before with absolutely no problem at all. After several days of headache pain, he went to our local ER. They took his history, blood pressure, temperature, etc. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, so they sent him home with pain killers. He had no decrease in the level of pain, so after a couple of days, he returned to the ER. This time, a neurologist was called in and an MRI was ordered. Diagnosis: spontaneous subdural hematoma (unexplained bleeding in the brain). The neurologist kept asking if my husband had been in an accident or bumped his head or any other such trauma. We told him “NO”. There had been absolutely no trauma to his head at all.
Coincidentally, the week before this, we had our annual bloodwork done. We got the results of those tests (one of which was cholesterol) the day after my husband left the hospital. They had kept him overnight for observation. What jumped out at me............his total cholesterol was a mere 132mg. Putting two and two together, after researching everything, I came up with the reason for his “spontaneous subdural hematoma”. Part of our “normal” regimen is to take ginkgo tincture twice a day for it's many health benefits. It is known that ginkgo has the potential for being a bloodthinner. Since we don't ever take anything in high doses, it has never been a problem for us. Wobenzym is a proteolytic enzyme complex. It also has the potential of being a blood thinner. Again, it wasn't taken in excess, so no red flags went up. Now, we get to the touchy part: as I mentioned, my husband has always had a “low” cholesterol, but, never as low as 132mg. As soon as we received the results of his bloodwork and I put all three factors together, it was clearly evident to me what had happened. At the next appointment with the neurologist, I took information with us and explained very carefully my theory. He discounted it, even though he had no other explanation as to what could have caused the spontaneous subdural hematoma. My real reason for giving the neurologist my theory was because the area where he practiced was predominantly well-to-do, educated, retired people. People who read a lot and can afford to treat themselves, or be treated, holistically. I wanted him to at least have an alternative theory if/when he is presented with the same circumstances; which, I can with some certainty predict that he will be presented with.
That was about 7 years ago, and I am happy to say that my husband has continued to be his extremely healthy self. I have adjusted his regimen and he is no longer taking ginkgo. He needed to be able to take something for pain without the worry of thin blood. He last cholesterol test was also much better; not up to 200mg, but, better than 132mg.
That was just a preamble. Now, to the matter at hand; which is giving you other information, research, and studies to help you understand that cholesterol is not really something that you have to worry about lowering. It is doubted now, by scientists, whether it is even involved in cardiovascular disease. Plus, research has now shown that if cholesterol goes too low, it drastically affects the brain and your mood. Your body NEEDS cholesterol. Studies and research have implicated low cholesterol with disorders such as cancer, hemmorhagic strokes, Alzheimer, agressive behavior,anxiety, depression and suicides; and the list goes on and on as more and more research is conducted. For now, I will try to give a little information on each of those, plus how to set up a healthy lifestyle to alleviate or prevent it.
I have consulted with many people with cancer and researched alternative theories for it's cause. Without a doubt, the sorry state of the American diet has come up very high on the list of “alternative theories”. Considering the promotion of a high grain, high carbohydrate, low protein, low fat diet; and the increased incidence of obesity, is it any wonder? It is known that dietary fat does not increase cholesterol; carbohydrates increase cholesterol, in addition to insulin levels which in turn causes your body to store all those carbohydrates as fat and not use it as energy. It is also known that body fat increases the production of estrogen, which is the known cause of many cancers.
In 1974, a review of the Framingham data and those from Keys' 'Seven Countries' study was carried out. It was expected to show that the cancer could also be blamed on high blood cholesterol. However, the baffled researchers found the opposite: those with the cancer had cholesterol levels that were lower than average.
Reports of more than twenty studies into the relation between blood cholesterol and cancer have been published since 1972. Most have reported an association between low blood cholesterol and cancer. The authors of the Renfrew and Paisley Study conclude:
"it may be a mistake to assume that dietary advice given to the general population to reduce the intake of saturated fat will necessarily reduce overall mortality."In a study from the USA published in 1990, changes in blood cholesterol over time were studied in patients with colon cancer. The doctors found that there had been an average thirteen percent decline in blood cholesterol levels in the ten years prior to diagnosis of the cancer compared with an average increase of two percent in the control group. Both those with the cancer and those free from it had similar blood cholesterol levels initially. It is possible that the decline in blood cholesterol levels was a result of the cancer, not the cause of it, but this is ruled out by the investigators. They compare cholesterol studies with apparently contrary findings and show that in reality they are consistent. Comparing those that reported normal or high cholesterol readings several years prior to diagnosis with others where, at the time of diagnosis, levels were low, they conclude that it was a long term lowering of blood cholesterol levels that gave rise to the cancers. This is only one example of many studies done linking cancer and low cholesterol.
For the most part, healthcare practitioners do not pay heed to these studies and, of course, pharmaceutical companies making the almighty STATIN drugs used to lower cholesterol pay no attention to it. I don't know if many of you remember this, or not, but, about 10 years ago, most statin drugs were taken off the market due to the fact that they caused rhabdomyolysis, or destruction of muscle tissue (the heart is a muscle!), among other bad side effects. They were taken off the market because it was discovered that they (statins), in essence, were destroying the heart muscle, which could very well tend to cause cardiovascular disease. (!) Now, however, time has made people forget – and the statins are being marketed heavily; not only to lower cholesterol, but, to treat cancer. There's an irony here somewhere!
The next discrepancy I would like to focus on is stroke. Basically, low cholesterol means more strokes. A very large study in Japan showed that low cholesterol levels increase the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke. The study presented itself inadvertantly once the Japanese began changing their eating habits to a more “Westernized” diet. They are eating more fat and protein and less rice and vegetables. Researchers have shown that this change has been accompanied by a general lowering of blood pressure and a decline in hemorrhagic strokes; a result of increased cholesterol levels over the 20 year period. A follow-up study in the US showed that the death from hemorrhagic stroke in men was 6 times greater if they had low cholesterol levels. Refering once again to the Framingham study: Researchers stated that
“Serum cholesterol level is not related to incidence of stroke..., and showed that for every three percent more energy from fat eaten, strokes would be cut by fifteen percent.”It has been shown that a person with a cholesterol level below 180 is at twice the risk of hemorrhagic stroke when compared to a person with a cholesterol level of 230.
There is really no need for me to go over each and every risk, disorder, or complication of low cholesterol. Suffice it to say that without adequate cholesterol, the body is incapable of making steroidal hormones (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA) or vitamin D; the brain can not function without adequate cholesterol; a healthy immune system is a result of adequate cholesterol. Instead of focusing on lowering cholesterol levels, physicians would be at a much greater advantage if they focused on lowering inflammation throughout the body. Current studies are now showing that the true cause of cardiovascular disease is inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been found to increase cholesterol levels since it is the cholesterol that is used by the body to patch up the damage of the inflammation. It would be a much healthier plan to lower inflammation in the body, which has no purpose other than causing heart disease, than to lower cholesterol, which definitely has a positive health related purpose in the body.
Some of the most prominent causes of chronic inflammation might be: eating overcooked scrambled eggs (the brown stuff on the bottom of an overcooked omlette), eating an overabundance of sugars and grains, eating foods cooked at high heat (fried), eating trans fats (margerines), inactivity, smoking, and stress.
If you happen to be one of an ever increasing number of people with lab results showing low cholesterol levels, then, I'll try to give you some holistic suggestions to increase those values and decrease your incidence to many health risks. First off, forget ever being told by anyone that fat causes elevated cholesterol. That is a myth. The true cause of elevated cholesterol, as I mentioned previously, is overconsumption of sugars, grains, basically carbohydrates.
Suggestions to address low cholesterol would be: Always follow your particular blood type food diet. There are now several different authors who have developed their own version: Roger Williams, Peter D'Adamo, William Wolcott, and Joseph Mercola. I have all of their books, and they are all very similar. I have followed Eat Right 4 Your Type suggestions and had myself and my family all subtyped to give us further direction in our choices; supplement with extra fish oil, particularly DHA; supplement with l-taurine or beet root concentrate, which is known to thin bile or help the liver make more (fat absorption requires the presence of bile as an emulsifier. Poor bile flow can work to keep cholesterol levels lower than they should be. Thinning the bile can help raise low cholesterol levels); use tumeric or take curcumin, which has been found to not only be good for the brain, but, will increase bile salts; CO Q10 is always recommended for anything that might be cardiovascular-related; when using fats/oils, it is always best to use the most beneficial ones – organic, virgin, first cold-pressed olive oil and organic ghee are the best; eat grass-fed organic meat and/or organic poultry; organic, preferrably raw, nuts (according to blood type); drink plenty of purified water ( I use a water ionizer/purification system); other than all these extra recommendations, do everything possible to create a healthy environment for you and all those around you.
To your Good Health!