Natural Atherosclerosis Solutions

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Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Natural Atherosclerosis Solutions

Atherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries, is a systemic problem. In other words, it isn’t isolated to just one area of the body. Unfortunately, the problem may not be discovered until some debilitating event like angina or a heart attack occurs.

The blockage of a major artery will usually get everyone’s attention, whereas smaller blockages throughout the 60,000 miles of capillaries might not be noticed as quickly. These blockages begin to form in small vessels of our microvascular system as we age. To a degree, our bodies can compensate for this. Through the process of angiogenesis, new blood vessels can form to replace those with blockages. Other blood vessels can dilate to help compensate for those that are blocked. Unfortunately, both of these compensation mechanisms decrease with age. Angiogenesis, for all practical purposes, shuts down after puberty, and, with age, blood vessels become stiffer and less elastic.

However, there are natural substances that you can take to help combat these arterial blockages, and in some cases, even clear them altogether. The following are a few of these solutions I’ve written about over the years.

Natto and Nattokinase

For years, Japanese citizens have enjoyed less prostate and breast cancer, less heart disease, and greater longevity than their Western counterparts. These benefits can, in part, be attributed to their high fish and seafood consumption. They also have one of the highest consumption rates for soybean products. Closer examination of research data indicates that consumption of natto, a soybean-based food, may contribute to their high degree of good health. Natto is a fermented product made by adding spores of the beneficial bacteria Bacillus natto to boiled soybeans. It has been referred to as “vegetable cheese” because many people report that it tastes like cheese. The average per capita annual consumption of natto in Japan is roughly 4.5 pounds. Natto has been used in Japan for at least 1,000 years to treat heart and vascular diseases, beriberi, and fatigue.

The enzyme nattokinase can be used to clear arterial blockages. It is truly a remarkable supplement, one I highly recommend taking daily if you’re over age 40. (I personally do.) Nattokinase is one of the few compounds that can effectively remove fibrous tissue and other clotting components anywhere in the body. I call it the “poor man’s clot buster.”

This is notable because the real solution to clearing arteries is to remove the fibrin deposit or clot, rather than just thinning the blood through use of anticoagulant drugs—or even natural “blood thinners”—which treat only the surface of the problem. Until the discovery of nattokinase, patients had to rely on blockage-clearing drugs like urokinase, streptokinase, and Activase. While these drugs have attained a degree of success, they all come with their own set of problems.

For one, they are extremely expensive—so expensive, in fact, that not all clinics and hospitals stock the drugs. If they do, they use them only when someone arrives at a hospital within minutes after a stroke or heart attack, because they have to be injected quickly following one of these incidents. This is because the drugs’ fibrinolytic activity (ability to dissolve clots and fibrous tissue) lasts for about 4 to 20 minutes.

However, natto and nattokinase offer a natural solution to remove fibrin deposits. Japanese researchers have shown that 100 grams of natto exhibits the same fibrinolytic activity as a therapeutic dose of urokinase. Even more remarkable is the fact that while an injection of urokinase is effective for only 4 to 20 minutes, nattokinase (the enzyme in natto) maintains its activity for four to eight hours.

But take note of these precautions for taking nattokinase or eating natto:

  • If you take the prescription drug warfarin to prevent blood clots (it’s also used as rat poison!), do not eat natto or take nattokinase. Natto has a high vitamin K content, which may impede the effectiveness of warfarin. (It is not uncommon for doctors to tell their patients who are on warfarin to avoid other vitamin K–rich foods such as cabbage and the green algae chlorella.) Nattokinase supplements have had the vitamin K removed, but to be on the safe side I’d still suggest not combining warfarin and nattokinase.
  • Natto or nattokinase can be used any time during the day, but, if you’re at risk from stroke or heart attack, it has been suggested that it be eaten or taken with the evening meal. Since most heart attacks and strokes occur within a few hours of rising, this should provide a greater degree of protection. (This is also the primary reason for recommending that two capsules of the enzyme nattokinase be taken at bedtime.)

Nattokinase is one of the most significant tools for improving chronic circulation problems I have uncovered in the last several years. If you suffer from any of the problems discussed in this report, it’s something you should consider. And, if your risk of stroke or heart attack is high, I recommend keeping a bottle of nattokinase on hand. It can provide you with some of the best clot-busting activity at a fraction of the cost of drugs. Following a heart attack or stroke, time is of the essence. The sooner you put nattokinase to work, the better the ultimate outcome will be.

L-arginine

Over ten years ago I reported on some research performed by Dr. Anoop Chauhan. I thought it was some of the most important and useful work I’d seen in decades, but apparently I was one of the only ones who thought so. Dr. Chauhan confirmed that the ability of our microvascular system to dilate decreases with age. More importantly, however, he demonstrated that we could reverse this impairment with the amino acid L-arginine.

Dr. Chauhan found that by increasing blood levels of L-arginine, which is converted to nitric acid, even older blood vessels will relax and dilate, dramatically increasing blood flow through them. Just a small increase in diameter translates into a huge improvement in blood flow. For example, if you double the radius of a vessel, your blood flow is four times as great.

Pharmaceutical research scientists are constantly looking for compounds that can safely trigger arteries to increase in diameter. L-arginine fits the bill, but there’s obviously not been interest in promoting it because it’s inexpensive, readily available, and nonpatentable.

If you want to improve elasticity in your microvascular vessels, L-arginine is the miracle substance that can do it. A dose of about 6 grams (3 grams taken twice daily) has been shown to double blood plasma levels in just a few weeks. L-arginine is available from Jo Mar Labs, at www.jomarlabs.com or 800-538-4545.

Lecithin

Lecithin just happens to be one of a handful of natural products that can lower the levels of LDL cholesterol and, at the same time, increase HDL cholesterol. Lecithin use has been proven in dozens of studies to lower cholesterol levels by decreasing cholesterol absorption in the gut and, more significantly, by actually pulling harmful forms of cholesterol out of the bloodstream.

More recently, there has been a focus on trying to help prevent atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries) and heart disease by lowering blood plasma levels of homocysteine. This can usually be accomplished by increasing the intake of vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid. However, the choline provided by lecithin has the same effect. Choline is metabolized into betaine, which in turn lowers homocysteine levels. (Betaine is another so-called “new” supplement recently being touted as the answer to circulation problems.)

In the not-so-distant past, lecithin was the foundation of all treatment programs dealing with circulation problems. Not only could it help prevent such problems, it was often instrumental in reversing some of the most severe existing cardiovascular problems. But for reasons unknown to me, lecithin seems to have fallen out of favor with the pharmaceutical and health food industries. Sadly, I suspect that its lack of popularity has to do with the fact that it is one of the least expensive supplements you can get these days.

Grapefruit Pectin

About 15 years ago, I first reported on some research being conducted by Dr. James Cerda of the University of Florida. Dr. Cerda’s research involved the dietary use of grapefruit pectin to lower cholesterol levels and possibly retard or stop the formation of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries).

In his initial animal work he determined grapefruit pectin, when fed concurrently with a high fat diet, could decrease the amount of plaque formation in the aorta and the small blood vessels supplying the heart. In following studies, Dr. Cerda’s research data demonstrated that adding pectin to the diet can actually reverse pre-existing atherosclerosis!

Test animals (swine) were fed a diet high in cholesterol known to create atherosclerosis. They remained on the diet for a 360 day period in which their blood cholesterol levels remained at 6 to 12 times the normal level. At that point half the animals were fed a diet in which three percent of grapefruit pectin was substituted for cellulose while the other animals stayed on the original diet. This continued for another 270 days at which time the animals were sacrificed.

Surprisingly, the pectin didn’t substantially lower the animals’ cholesterol levels. However, an average of only 5.3 percent of the aorta surface area of those on the pectin diet was covered by atherosclerosis compared to 13.6 percent in the non-pectin group. The average coronary artery narrowing was 45 percent without pectin and only 24 percent with pectin.

The addition of pectin to the diet actually reversed the atherosclerosis in both the aorta and the small coronary arteries which supply the heart. This occurred by some other mechanism other than reducing blood cholesterol levels! This is a study of enormous importance. We can only hope it receives all the attention it deserves. We have a natural, safe, and inexpensive by-product of the citrus industry that can prevent and even reverse our most deadly killer, coronary heart disease.

Adjusted for humans, the daily dosages to achieve similar results as above would be approximately 15 grams of pectin a day. Dr. Cerda’s product, called ProFibe, contains 25 percent pectin and 75 percent guar gum, and he recommends 15 grams of ProFibe per day. Look for it online. 

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