Impaired Lipid metabolism is a major health hazard of modern life. Around 50% of people over 25 years of age are affected by increased lipid levels. This happens either due to increased dietary intake, increased synthesis or decreased elimination.
Ayurveda, the oldest holistic medical system purified and nourished by centuries suggests various ways to correct this condition.
Types of Hyperlipidemia
- Hypercholesterolemia – Serum cholesterol level increases.
- Hypertriglyceridemia – Serum triglyceride level increases
- Hypercholesterolemia with Hyper triglyceridemia – Both cholesterol & triglyceride level increases
Clinical features of increased lipid levels
- Atherosclerosis – Increased low density lipids (LDL) stick to the inner wall of blood vessels resulting in atherosclerosis. Later calcium is deposited in these plaques and makes it hard and creates a loss of natural elasticity.
- Coronary artery disease and heart attack – Atherosclerotic changes happen to the coronary artery which supplies blood to cardiac muscles and this results in a deficient blood supply to cardiac muscles and it will gradually lead to a heart attack.
- Aortic aneurism – When cholesterol is deposited in the inner walls of the aorta which carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. The weaker portion of the aorta bulges out resulting in aneurism.
- Peripheral Vascular disease – Atherosclerotic changes of blood vessels which supplies blood to legs results in peripheral vascular disease.
- Metabolic syndrome – Diabetes, hypertension, constricted blood vessels of heart, increased fat deposit on hips, variation of cholesterol levels in blood together causes metabolic syndrome.
- Stroke – Caused by blockage of either vertebral artery or carotid artery resulting from deposition of fat.
- Liver diseases – Fatty liver, non alcoholic steatohepatitis, cirrhosis is caused by deposition of fat and cholesterol in liver.
- Renal diseases – Deposition of cholesterol in renal arteries results in renal artery stenosis leading to renovascular hypertension. It may lead to renal failure.
Concept of Dhatu
Dhatu – Seven types of body tissues which form the physical body. They are
- Rasa – Purified subtle part of properly digested food.
- Rakta – Blood
- Mamsa – Flesh
- Medas – Fat
- Asthi – Bone
- Majja – Bone marrow
- Sukla/Arthava – Reproductive tissue
Each of these dhatus are subtler or purer than the previous dhatu and nourished by the same. For example fat (medas) is nourished by flesh (mamsa) and flesh (mamsa) by blood (raktha). The fire (agni) inherent in fat causes digestion and supply of nutrient or subtler part of fat to the subsequent bone(asthi) dhatu.
According to this science of wellbeing, Hyperlipidemia is caused by improper functioning of fire (agni) principle. This causes impairment of conversion of one dhatu to the next.
Specifically the fire principle in the fat dhatu starts malfunctioning and conversion to the next dhatu ie, bone dhatu fails. This causes accumulation of unhealthy and partly digested fat (medas) all along the channels (srotas) which transport it.
Etiology for improper functioning of fire or agni principle include sedentary life, lack of exercise, higher dietary intake of oily, fried, sweet food, curd, day time sleep and indulgence in chilled food.
Correction of fire principle is the basic treatment for increased lipid levels. Dietary and lifestyle modification can avoid further aggravation of Vata, Kapha and fire principle.
Ayurvedic medicines and treatment procedures need to be recommended by a qualified Ayurvedic physician after assessing the individual patient. Proper management will trigger fire principle and thus will help proper conversion of fat dhatu.
1. Cleansing procedures
A patient with deep rooted impairment will require basic cleansing procedures like panchakarma. Every procedure may not be required for each person but this must be decided by the Ayurvedic physician.
2. Powder massage (udwarthana)
Massage by suitable herbal powders is useful after cleansing.
3. Lifestyle modification
Easy to digest food, leafy vegetables, egg white, fruits are advised. Fried preparations and dairy products with high fat content need to be avoided.
Modification of activities
- Regular exercise after medical opinion
- Avoid day sleep and sedentary life
- Maintenance of healthy body weight
- Cessation of smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption.
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