Cardio Savvy or Cholesterol Phobic? Part Two

by John Sherman, ND, Tahoma Clinic

There are many natural therapeutic products that have proven helpful for resolving atherosclerotic plaques, and each individual’s needs must be considered in evaluating what dietary changes and supplements might work the best. Working with the renowned Dr. Jonathan Wright for many years, one of the grandfathers of natural medicine in our community, I have learned some simple interventions which often helps to reabsorb arterial plaque – without the need for excessive supplementation over long periods.

Clinically, a few supplements have worked well for both Dr. Wright’s and my own atherosclerotic patients, resulting in a reduction in their plaque, as demonstrated on heart scans.

Dietary factors
• Alpha linolenic acid – For every 1000 mg of ALA consumed from sources such as flaxseed and flax oil, tofu, soybean oil, pumpkin seed oil and walnut oil, there is a 62% drop in coronary artery calcification (7).
• Garlic – Including garlic in your diet, and also taking an aged garlic supplement with B vitamins, has been shown to reduce homocysteine, an inflammatory marker, while increasing vascular function and reducing calcification in coronary arteries(8).
• Pomegranate juice – In one study, people who drank 50 mL daily of pomegranate juice had reduced carotid artery thickness by up to 35% after one year(9).
• Avoid trans fats – Also called partially hydrogenated fats, these are artificial fats, created to make vegetable oils more solid, in many processed foods. Trans fats have been shown to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and increase risk of heart disease and stroke.
• Mediterranean diet – This diet and lifestyle remains the most cardio-protective diet in the world. It can lower coronary artery disease by 80%, heart attacks by 33% and strokes by 70%.

• Tocotrienols – A member of the Vitamin E family, commonly found in many vegetable oils, they have a more powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer effect than Vitamin E alone, and promote reabsorption of arterial plaque.
• Vitamin K complex – Vitamin K2 especially, has been shown to reabsorb plaque and deposit calcium back in bone rather than in arteries.
• Nattokinase – Nattokinase has been shown to reduce blood vessel wall thickening following endothelial injuries in animals. In humans, it has been shown to break up fibrin clots for up to 2-8 hours after taking. Nattokinase is derived from a fermented Japanese food called natto.
• Fish oil – Both in the diet and as a supplement, fish oil has been shown to work better than statins to lower risk of death from cardiovascular events – 24 to 32%; while statins only show a 13 to 22% reduction.
• L-carnitine – An amino acid, l-carnitine improves circulation in general, and has been shown to help congestive heart failure, angina, and exercise tolerance in most vascular disorders.

Other supplements that can be helpful in various cardiovascular diseases, include: CoQ10 (or Ubiquinol), D-Ribose, Magnesium (especially magnesium taurate), Niacinamide, and Curcumin extract.

Other Lifestyle Factors
• Blood donations – Donating blood two to three times annually can reduce risk of acute heart attack by 88%, compared with nondonors.
• Exercise – Movement and activities obviously improve circulation, but also increase muscle mass and loss of organ function in the elderly. Even at 20 to 30 minutes daily, activities (fun ones!) improve delivery of nutrients to the tissues and increase well-being.

I truly believe cardiovascular disease does not have to be the feared, costly, and devastating disease that is currently affecting so many of us in the Western world. A few simple changes in our diet and lifestyle can have a dramatic effect on our longevity, well-being, and quality of life, for our entire lifespan.

In addition to his long-term practice at Tahoma Clinic, Dr. John Sherman served as Clinic Director for Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, and as associate professor for both the National University of Natural Medicine and Bastyr University. He authored the classic naturopathic textbook The Complete Botanical Prescriber and is co-author of Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Dr. Sherman sees patients with diverse health issues, including bio-identical hormone therapy (for men and women), cardiovascular disease, thyroid and hormone balance, auto-immune challenges, chronic fatigue, immune system support, detoxification of the body, individualized nutritional programs. Learn more at or at 206.812.9988.