Atherosclerosis is described as a build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in or on the artery walls. A progression of Atherscerosis will eventually obstruct blood flow and resulting plaques that build up may rupture causing a heart attack or stroke.

Atherosclerosis is one of the main causes of vascular diseases and heart attacks. It is predicted to become the leading cause of global mortality by 2050   The majority of heart attacks however presenting to the Emergency Room occur with the patient’s cholesterol often found within normal parameters! This has been observed for several years and records kept so the question must be asked -what else is causing the blockage for the heart attack to occur if not cholesterol?   Research has pointed the finger at Inflammation occurring within blood vessel walls which causes cholesterol or its components to be attracted to the area that is inflamed so healing can take place. Cholesterol is part of the structure of cell walls so any injury to tissue means that circulating cholesterol in the blood will accumulate in the areas affected so that the cells can avail themselves of this compound or nutrient pre-cursors. Unfortunately, Cholesterol or the substances that comprise cholesterol ( lipoproteins)  become oxidized in the inflammatory process and this leads to a cascade of chemical events that eventually leads to a deposit or plaque being formed on the artery wall- Atherosclerosis.  If an artery wall of the heart becomes occluded then there is stenosis or reduced blood flow to the heart muscle leading to reduced oxygenation and nutrition of the heart wall. If a plaque becomes calcified then there is the danger of it breaking off and blocking the artery leading to a heart attack or it may go to the brain causing a stroke. 

At a higher risk for the above are those who have Diabetes, mainly type 2, and those with acid body chemistry that promotes inflammation. Acid body chemistry can come with age or constitution and Diabetes increases circulating blood glucose molecules that ” have an abrasive effect ” on blood vessels. The factors leading to Atherosclerosis and the formation of plaques is a subject for another article.

The question is – are plaques able to be dissolved naturally and without drug intervention? 

Recent research shows that this can be done over time using some  Natural Substances that have been clinically trialed. In this article, I will mention just two – Pomegranate juice and Grape seed extract. Studies have shown that carotid artery Atherosclerosis may reflect Athersclerosis elsewhere in the body including the coronary arteries.

Pomegranate juice was found to reduce carotid artery stenosis( narrowing )  and common carotid intima-media thickness ( blood vessel wall), blood pressure, and LDL oxidation, according to a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004.  A  pilot research project involving nineteen elderly persons who had Atherosclerosis, ( hardening of the arteries ) was conducted where the plaque was already built up to dangerous levels. NIne were used as a control and ten were put on the Pomegranate juice.  Approx 2.4ml of pomegranate juice was consumed per day for a year and in 10 of those persons, there was a -30% decrease in the thickness of the lining of their carotid artery plaque whereas in the nine of the control group who were given a placebo had a mean +9% increase in plaque. I add the group that consumed the juice also had a –21% decrease in their systolic blood pressure. 

Grapeseed Extract  (GSE) is another compound that has shown favorable results in reducing plaque. 

According to the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology,2015 Volume 12,- GSE  had a beneficial effect on reducing the progression of Carotid Atherosclerosis plaques. This extract contained a high percentage of low molecular weight Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins, which are the active therapeutic agents in the extract. These compounds have shown to be helpful in reducing oxidation, strengthening the collagen in the artery walls, and have an Anti-inflammatory effect.

The trial was conducted on 287 patients who were divided into two groups – the control group who received a placebo capsule and the other the GSE  group who received 200mg daily of the extract. The trial was conducted over 24 months. At the end of this period the GSE group had an average of -33% reduction in plaque as compared with the Control group, who had no decrease. It was noted that the number of plaques and unstable plaques also decreased with the group using GSE.

Researchers concluded that GSE inhibited the progression of carotid plaque and reduced the plaque in the treated patients. Furthermore the GSE group showed lower rates of clinical vascular events. To date there is no pharmaceutical drug on the market that can duplicate this!

Now before you rush out and purchase GSE or Pomegranate Juice one needs to know –

  • GSE is highly adulterated in the market place. Only small molecular weight extracts will be absorbed by the cells of the body. The only reliable source is the brands that contain French Grape seed extract. An example is Masquelier brand-. Anthenogel  In Australia Blackmores and Herbs of Gold can also be trusted in my opinion. They are expensive so if you are getting a cheap price then it is not high-quality GSE and should be avoided.
  • One needs not only a high-quality GSE but to use but also the same dose or above of what was used in the trial – at least 200Mg day plus.
  • High doses of GSE may interfere with some medications such as pharmaceutical blood thinners.  GSE in small doses will not interfere with Blood thinners and GSE is not a blood thinner although it does have some blood-thinning effects. Ie it reduces platelet aggregation or clumping of platelets in response to inflammation. Some websites will frighten you into believing the GSE will interfere with other Meds and this is not the case .To be sure I recommend you take 2 hours away from other meds to ensure no complications
  • GSE is low or minimal side effects and is often prescribed to those who have allergies to reduce Allergenic effects
  • High-Quality GSE can be taken as a health supplement indefinitely as it has more of a nutritive effect and value. For seniors is it one of my most recommended supplements due to other beneficial effects as well.
  • The Pomegranate juice used in the trial was a “POM’ brand from the USA which is a very high-quality product. Local juice is reconstituted from European sources and although they claim there is no added sugar this can be questionable  See Pom website for good information and science  http://www.pomwonderful.com          


Fruits and Vegetables help the body to reduce cell and blood acidity. The latest research shows that  As we age our body tissues can become acid due to reduced digestive and kidney function .and this leads to Systemic low-grade inflammation within the body. An obvious example is Arthritis. Body acidity is a contributing factor towards Atherosclerosis and Arteriosclerosis ( hardening of the artery walls.

Other products that can help to reduce cholesterol plaque are – Aged Garlic Extract, Bromelain, and Hawthorn berry. An old-time Naturopath friend that i know was combining Magnesium with Bromelain to be taken over a two year period. ( Bromelain contains flavanoids that are compounds similar to Proanthocyanidins)  . The magnesium tends to soften the artery wall and reduce acidity and the Bromelain is a soft tissue anti-inflammatory that promotes the reduction of plaque. Another supplement that may assist is Vit K2 which helps keep calcium in solution and out of artery walls.

For further information contact www.adelaidenaturopath.net.au