atherosclerotic plaque

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 leading 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!  The question must be asked -what else is causing the blockage for the heart attack to happen, 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 inflamed area so healing can occur. Cholesterol is part of the structure of cell walls. Hence, 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 oxidised in the inflammatory process. 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, there is stenosis or reduced blood flow to the heart muscle leading to reduced oxygenation and nutrition. If a plaque becomes calcified, there is the danger of breaking off and blocking the artery, leading to a heart attack or going to the brain, causing a stroke. 

At a higher risk for the above are those who have Diabetes 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.

Are plaques able to be dissolved naturally and without drug intervention? 

Dr Dean Ornish, an American Cardiologist, has shown this can be done on a plant-rich diet high in Polyphenols and antioxidants.  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, and body acidity contributes to Atherosclerosis and Arteriosclerosis ( hardening of the artery walls).

Natural Substances that have been clinically trialled can help reduce plaque. This article will mention four  – Pomegranate juice and Grape seed extract, Bergamot, and Kyolic garlic. 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 typical 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. 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. 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 favourable 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 been shown to reduce oxidation, strengthen the collagen in the artery walls, and have an Anti-inflammatory effect.

The trial was conducted on 287 patients divided into two groups – the control group who received a placebo capsule and 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 compared to the Control group, which 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 degraded in the marketplace. 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 the Masquelier brand-. Anthenogel  In Australia Blackmores and Herbs of Gold can also be trusted, in my opinion. They are expensive, so it is not a high-quality GSE and should be avoided if you get a low price.
  • 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 per day plus.
  • High doses of GSE may interfere with some medications, such as pharmaceutical blood thinners.  GSE in small amounts will not interfere with blood thinners, and GSE is not a blood thinner, although it does have some blood-thinning effects. I.e. 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, which 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 nutritional effect and value. For seniors is 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, 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          

Bergamot: is a natural compound made from particular citrus grown in Southern Italy. It has been well researched for –

  • lowering cholesterol levels and improving lipid profiles
  • improving arterial health, aka the endothelium
  • improving liver function and is used for treating fatty liver disease
  • Treating inflammation
  • Decreasing abdominal fat

According to Dr Ross Walker, an integrated Cardiologist, the best formula is Bergomet Brand, which has had clinical trials showing the effects on the cardiovascular system.

Kyolic Aged Garlic:  Studies have shown that a special preparation of  Garlic called Kyolic-aged -Garlic-extract to be effective in –

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol and improves lipid profile
  • Improved Gut Microbiota –
  • It helps lower arterial inflammation
  • Improves Arterial stiffness

Please note:  although cooking with garlic has health-giving effects or the above benefits to occur, special aged garlic must be used as it has unique properties preserved through the aging process.

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

For further information, contact for your Free Heart Health pulse check.