Recent studies and experience have revealed that inflammation is at the root of diseases including heart disease, cancer, auto immune diseases, etc. When our bodies are under chronic stress (from physical and emotional stressors) it can create an inflammatory state in your body. Inflammation short term is a way that our bodies create healing from an acute stress such as a cut, fracture, or illness. We need to have the ability to create an inflammatory state short term in order to heal properly. This is ok and does not cause problems.
The problem arises when we are exposed to stressors on a regular basis and our body is in a constant state of fighting inflammation. This can translate into heart disease, cancer, dementia, auto immune diseases, etc. The body is in defense mode and actually starts hurting itself because it was not designed to stay in this high defense mode for a prolonged time.
Let’s look at heart disease. For a while now, we have been fed the information that lowering cholesterol will help reduce heart disease. These medications are some of the top prescribed medications in the country. However, many doctors who used to promote the use of cholesterol lowering medication now retract that recommendation. It is now felt that the cholesterol lowering medication only appeared to help a little bit by lowering inflammation–not by having cholesterol be “perfect”.
Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, rather it is caused by a combination of factors including inflammation in the body. There are too many people with “perfect” cholesterol having heart issues and people with “horrible” cholesterol numbers that do not–inflammation has been definitely linked to people having heart disease no matter what their cholesterol number is. In fact, if your cholesterol level is too low it messes with your hormones and overall functioning. You need a healthy cholesterol level because cholesterol is actually an important part of every cell in your body.
The problem is that cholesterol lowering medication use has become “standard of care” and doctors are scared not to prescribe it or else they risk getting in legal trouble. I have seen situations where the pros and cons of cholesterol lowering medication are discussed and some patients still insist on taking it. Often people feel that they can take this medication and eat what they want, not exercise, etc and be free from the risk of heart disease. How do you argue with these people when prescribing this medication that is “standard of care”? And there are a lot of doctors (just like patients) that are buying into the PR that cholesterol lowering is the key to heart disease treatment.
I am not saying that I have all of the answers. In the Integrative medicine world, we are still figuring things out. What we have seen is that when people lower their inflammation, there is less heart disease, less cancer, less auto-immune disease, etc. Keeping your level of inflammation down just makes sense. If you still choose to take a cholesterol lowering medication that choice is of course yours. I simply want to bring awareness to the fact that there is more to the heart disease story than you previously may have realized. I understand that some people may like the false sense of security that they get by taking a medication that is supposed to help, but it is a lot like a warranty on a bad product.
There is no short cut to preventing disease and in feeling great. This is why we address the circle of wellness with every patient. We must address the mindset, nutrition, supplementation, toxin exposure, sleep, exercise, and hormone balancing with everyone. Everyone is at a different place in their life and what they can do. In order to reduce inflammation it takes a whole person approach. This is not about being perfect, this is about making progress–positive changes for your health so that you can live an optimal life.