Lowering Cholesterol—The Traditional Chinese Medicine Way

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By Dr Hu Naiwen 

According to the 2010 National Health Survey, about one in six (17.4 percent) Singapore residents aged 18-69 years have high cholesterol.

Can traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) keep cholesterol levels down? Here’s Taiwanese physician Dr Hu Naiwen’s take on combating high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a type of fat present in our body, and it is essential to our health. Cholesterol is an important building block for cell membranes, hormones, and Vitamin D, and it is also needed to make bile, which helps in the digestion of fat.

However, high cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of atherosclerosis—the hardening and narrowing of arteries.

The human artery is like a drain. When the drain is choked or blocked with debris, water has a hard time flowing through it. And if we don’t clear the blockage, more and more debris will accumulate.

Similarly, patients with high cholesterol have more fat and cholesterol droplets in their blood. When the droplets encounter deposits on the artery walls, they become stuck behind these deposits. The fat droplets gradually accumulate and form hard plaques on the walls of arteries.

Over time, atherosclerosis develops. The arteries become narrow and blocked, making it harder for blood to flow through. Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of heart attacks, blood clots, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Thus, to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, modern medicine advocates keeping one’s cholesterol below a certain threshold.

Hua Tuo, a renowned Chinese physician and surgeon of the Eastern Han Dynasty, once said, “Running water never becomes stale, and a frequently moving door hinge never suffers insect damage. (流水不腐, 户枢不蠹)” In other words, one who exercises regularly stays healthy.

In congruence with Hua Tuo’s words, modern studies suggest that moderate exercise can help one lose weight and reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. If that’s the case, isn’t the problem of atherosclerosis and high cholesterol solved?

Scientists have developed a variety of cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins. Though statins are quite effective in lowering cholesterol, they can also have side effects like myopathy. Myopathy is a condition where the muscle tissues break down, causing weakness and muscle pain. In this case, the treatment may create new problems before resolving the original problem.

Our modern sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of obesity and high cholesterol. Therefore, in order to cure an illness, it is important to treat its root cause.

Studies suggest that moderate exercise can help one lose weight and reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. If thatís the case, isnít the problem of atherosclerosis and high cholesterol solved?

Illustrates the progression of atherosclerosis in CVD patients.
Atherosclerosis is a condition where fatty deposits build up in the arteries. This narrows the arteries and reduces the blood supply to vital organs like the heart, brain and kidneys.


Dr Hu Naiwen

Dr Hu Naiwen is a traditional Chinese physician at the Shanghai Tong De Chinese Medicine Hall in Taipei City with over 30 years of clinical experience in traditional Chinese medicine. 

He is the first Chinese physician and the fifth person in the world to cure a patient’s maxillofacial melanoma. He has also used traditional Chinese methods to help patients with bleeding in the brain to recover within minutes. 

Currently, Dr Hu runs his own health programme on NTD Television, the largest global Chinese television station, and has a special column and hotline on Sound of Hope Radio Station. Dr Hu has also travelled around the world to deliver speeches introducing Chinese medicine to a wide audience. 

His motto is, “To prevent diseases before they happen; to recover quickly without taking large quantities of drugs should diseases happen.”

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