There is More to Healthy Cholesterol Than Just Numbers

Recent research shows the potential of a naturally occurring phytosterol found in certain plants called "saponins". These saponins work as the plant's natural immune system; a natural antibiotic that protects the plant against harmful microbes and fungus. In humans, these same saponins, with no adverse side effects, are a "natural bile acid sequestrant" that lowers cholesterol, strengthens the immune system and fights off pathogens that can cause chronic arthritic pain and low grade inflammation.

Saponin molecules are "nonsystemic", meaning they do all their work within the intestinal tract and do not enter the rest of the body. Therefore, damaging side effects to the liver and other vital organs cannot take place.

Saponins work entirely within the digestive system, binding with cholesterol from the liver bile and dietary cholesterol, along with intestinal pathogens, making them unavailable for re-absorption. This mixture is then removed from the body through the normal elimination process. As the body needs more cholesterol for bile acid production used for digestion, the liver removes cholesterol from the bloodstream, leaving less to build up in the arteries.

"The binding of bile acids by saponins has other important implications. Bile acids excreted in the bile are called primary bile acids. They are metabolized by bacteria in the colon, producing secondary bile acids. Some of the secondary bile acids are promoters of colon cancer. By binding to primary bile acids, saponins reduce formation of the secondary bile acids."

Peter R. Cheeke, PhD
Professor of Comparative Nutrition
Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University



What Does An Abscessed Tooth or a Splinter in a Finger Have to do with Your Risk of a Heart Attack?

Much More than You Might Think!


Saponins Help Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation destabilizes cholesterol deposits in the cornary arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes. According to recent articles in The New England Journal of Medicine, we now know that ordinary bacterial infections such as sinus infections, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, periodontal (gum) disease and stomach ulcers can be contributing factors to heart disease.

Inflammation is the immune system's natural response for fighting infections and healing injuries. However, excessive inflammation from chronic low-level infection, "which often produces no systoms," appears to damage the lining of artery walls and contributes to the buildup of plaque. Heart attacks occur when an inflamed lesion of cholesterol plaque burst, causing a blood clot.

Researchers are looking closely at saponins' biochemical properties, which they believe include mechanisms that can stimulate the immune system, ward off microbial and fungal infections, protect against viruses.

"In those individuals that reduced both cholesterol and inflammation, heart disease was reversing. The plaque was actually coming off the walls of the arteries."
Dr. Steven Nissen, Cleveland Clinic.



If you are reading this article, chances are you or someone you care about has high cholesterol. You may be considering prescription drugs such as Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor or other statin drugs.

Statins,along with some natural remedies such as "red rice yeast", are absorbed into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, entering the liver, kidney and other vital organs.

Statin Drugs Often Cause Severe Side Effects:
  • Read the warnings that accompany these drugs.
  • Read them carefully, the print is small.
  • You have a right to know the facts. Thought to consider . . .
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      Published Research Reports

  • Sterodial saponins break down the high molecular fats in foods whose absorption contributes to high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, hypertriglyceridemian, and hypercholesterolemia.

    "One of our most significant findings was that no patient taking saponin extract for 6 months or more continued to show an abnormally high blood pressure or excessive blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels. In other words, there were permanent benefits." Dr. Robert Bingham Arthritis News Today, Vol 2, No 6
    Saponins natural tendency to ward off microbes makes them good candidates for treating fungal and yeast infections. These compounds serve as natural antibiotics, helping the body fight infections and microbial invasions.
    Manuel F. Balandrin, Chemist Science News, Vol 148

    Masai Diet Wards Off Heart Disease Boris Weintraub, Geographica Milk and meat meals of the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania would terrify an American fearing cholesterol and heart disease. Yet Masai cholesterol levels are one-third lower than the U.S. average, and heart disease is almost unknown. New research offers a clue: Masai also eat a soup laced with bitter bark and roots that contain cholesterol-lowering substances called saponins. "Masai don't worry about cholesterol; it's a non-issue to them. And they love fat," says Timothy Johns of McGill University in Montreal. Supporting his findings, studies show that urban Masai without access to the bitter plants do develop heart disease.
    Scientists are evaluating other saponins potential for lowering cholesterol in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. Some saponins, taken orally, combine with cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract, making cholesterol unavailable for absorption. Thus, saponin derivatives may yield a natural agent for treating or preventing heart disease. Manuel F Balandrin, Chemist Science News, Vol 148
    Saponins if regularly included in the diet, may help the body protect itself from cancer. Saponin and saponin-like compounds have shown evidence that they can buttress the body's ability to thwart cancer and heart disease. A. Venket Rao, Chemist University of Toronto Ontario, Canada
    Saponins form strong insoluble complexes with cholesterol. This has many important implications, including cholesterol-lowering activity in humans. Peter R. Cheeke, Ph D Professor of Comparative Nutrition Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University
    Saponins - A Useful Treatment for Hypercholesterolaemia There is now a substantial body of evidence that dietary saponins can lower plasma cholesterol concentrations. They act either directly, by inhibiting absorption of cholesterol from the small intestine, or indirectly, by inhibiting reabsorption of bile acids. Where direct inhibition of cholesterol absorption occurs, saponins could prevent absorption not only of a high proportion of dietary cholesterol, but also a high proportion of the cholesterol derived from bile and the desquamatior, of mucosal cells. Saponins are potentially of great significance in human nutrition since it seems likely that the low saponin content of the typical Western diet may be partly responsible for the high incidences of heart disease in Western countries. D. Oakenfull and G. Sidhu European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1990) 44, 79-88
    According to A. Venket Rao, a professor and researcher at the University of Toronto's Department of Nutritional Sciences, saponins which generally pass through our digestive system without being absorbed--bind onto the cholesterol that we eat. Then the two make their exit together, lowering cholesterol levels. Rao and his colleagues believe the saponins may even help prevent colon cancer. Normally, bile acid pours into the stomach to help absorb fats from foods. Some bacteria in the large intestine turn the bile into a substance that is highly carcinogenic. That's why a high-fat diet increases the risk of colon cancer. Research suggests that when saponins travel through, they stop the toxic material from forming. The evidence of saponins' benefits is so compelling that several pharmaceutical companies are already designing saponin-based drugs to lower cholesterol and to enhance the effectiveness of vaccines. Jennifer Reid Holmes READER'S DIGEST August, 1996
    Saponins can bind cholesterol and thus interfer with cell growth and division. While drugs have side effects, many of them serious, saponins are safe. Mary Clarke, Ph D Extension Specialist, Nutrition Education Department of Human Nutrition, Kansas State University

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