Has Cholesterol Been Acquitted with Inflammation Now Sitting in the “Hot Seat”?
I have previously written several articles on cholesterol. I have cited evidence that it is not the cause of cardiovascular disease; rather, it has been demonized and found guilty by association. Being intrigued by this meme of supposed connection between cholesterol and heart disease even led me to dive into the research during one long, cold, snow-bound evening. By the wee hours of daylight, I had a much longer article than expected (actually, a borderline mini-review) which is posted on my website. What I concluded from assessing the “science” was that it was clear that cholesterol’s bad name should be redeemed based on biases and inconclusive trials reported as “evidence.”
This month, one of the major headliners I came across while compiling August’s Top Holistic and Integrative Health Reads, provided vindication to me and many other holistic practitioners that have been touting for years that lipid levels aren’t the driving factor of cardiovascular disease. Rather, the authors of this research article demonstrated that it is inflammation that may be the culprit. In this study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine entitled, “Antiinflammatory Therapy with Canakinumab for Atherosclerotic Disease,” the researchers stated:
Current pharmaceutical interventions that are designed to slow the progression of atherosclerosis focus almost exclusively on reducing plasma levels of cholesterol. However, clinical and experimental data support an additional critical role for inflammation in atherothrombosis.1-3 We previously found that downstream biomarkers of inflammation such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, independent of the cholesterol level.4,5 We have also found that statins reduce the levels of cholesterol and markers of inflammation,6 and in a series of clinical trials we and others subsequently found that beneficial outcomes after statin therapy relate to both a reduction in cholesterol level and inflammation inhibition.7-11 Yet, to date, no evidence has shown that reducing vascular inflammation in the absence of concomitant lipid lowering reduces the rates of cardiovascular events. As such, the inflammatory hypothesis of atherothrombosis has remained unproved.
The study sought to test the inflammatory hypothesis based on the effect of a drug that lowers inflammation by targeting interleukin-1B. It was a randomized, double-blind trial of 10,061 patients with previous myocardial infarction and a high-sensitivity C-reactive protein level (a measurement of inflammation).
Antiinflammatory therapy targeting the interleukin-1? innate immunity pathway with canakinumab at a dose of 150 mg every 3 months led to a significantly lower rate of recurrent cardiovascular events than placebo, independent of lipid-level lowering.
Note the last sentence.
“…independent of lipid-level lowering.”
Unfortunately, the drug brought with it many side effects, including a higher incidence of fatal infection.
Addressing the Underlying Factors of Dis-eases with Natural Support and Essential Oils
A consideration may be to use natural products, with a better safety profile, along with healthy lifestyle support, to prevent this negative inflammatory process that strains the cardiovascular system. For example, in one study, green tea was shown to modulate this same pathway of interleukin-1B in vitro as the above trial in humans.
However, moving beyond symptom suppression alone is optimal for truly achieving wellness and is in alignment with the naturopathic philosophy to treat the cause of the disease. Essential oils may assist with modulating tissue irritation by addressing the underlying causes, and could mitigate disease expression before it manifests into a major problem.
Stress has been shown to increase the stickiness in blood (1, 2, 3) and alter immune and inflammatory pathways. Essential oils shine in this area for their powerful relaxation effects and have been backed by research.
Beyond their emotional modulation of stress, they also have physiological and biochemical mechanisms. Therefore, essential oils can also provide support and protect against various other triggers of stress on the body including toxins, infections, dietary, and more.
Their versatility and multi-factorial actions make them a perfect companion to anyone interested in optimal wellness, heart health, and prevention of unwanted disease manifestations.
One of my favorite oils for heart support is the alluring oil of ylang ylang. A little sniff, a dab on the feet, and a peaceful diffusion can be beneficial for the ol’ ticker.
More News on Essential Oils for Whole Body Support
I just wrote a two-part article for Natural Path on this very subject. I discussed the problem with our current approach to using only symptom suppression, adverse drug effects, and the pitfalls of using any modality without addressing the cause of the dis-ease. I then highlighted how essential oils can address the factors that underlie many health concerns as they support healing. I specifically focused on autoimmunity. I’ll keep you posted on when the articles go live!
The Dirty Little Secret That is Coming Clean to Holistic Health
Speaking of Natural Path, currently, my two previous posts have been published.
You can read “Psst…The Dirty Little Secret That May Kill You! Is There Hope for a “Cleaner” Future?” here. It lists the four main reasons to be concerned about chemicals in our environment.
We have a good solution for that, right?
In my second article, “Why You Can’t Rely on Companies and the Government to Keep You Safe from Toxic Chemicals, but You Can Still Have an Impact for a Safer World!” I took a deep dive into the regulations of chemicals in the United States and compared them to European (stricter) standards. For those who want all the nitty gritty details of why supporting sustainable companies is imperative today, click here to read the full article.
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)