Complementary and Integrative Therapies for Cardiovascular Disease

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Only if these aren't successful will we add or switch to conventional Western therapies such as drugs, surgery or other invasive procedures. We believe that physicians and health care givers should embrace the best of both of these worlds. It is only through open mindedness, education, research and sharing of knowledge that we can value and recognize the wisdom of all healing traditions. Mimi Guarnieri and Rauni King where he saw first hand the benefits and successes of combining these many healing traditions.

It is the application of both Western and complementary medicine, or "integrative medicine," that we at NYMA believe provides the tools to achieving optimal health. We hope that one day we will be able to drop the term "integrative medicine" and rename it simply "good medicine. Download Report. Goodman frequently appears in print and online media where he contributes his expertise on heart health. The following is a list of some of his media coverage. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell of the body. We need cholesterol to help digest fats, strengthen cell membranes, insulate nerves, and make hormones.

Cholesterol is made primarily in the liver, but it is also produced by cells lining the small intestine and by individual cells in the body. While our body makes all of the cholesterol we actually need about 1, milligrams a day , we also get additional cholesterol from foods we eat. The highest sources of cholesterol are egg yolks and organ meats such as liver and kidney. No plant derived food contains cholesterol, not even peanut butter or avocado, even though these foods are high in fat.

However, all foods from animal sources such as meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products contain cholesterol. Although cholesterol serves many important functions in the body, too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can be dangerous. When blood cholesterol reaches high levels, it builds up on artery walls, increasing the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. The heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. The bloodstream transports these nutrients to the heart through the coronary arteries. If the coronary arteries become narrowed or clogged by cholesterol and fat deposits atherosclerosis and cannot supply enough blood to the heart, the result is coronary heart disease CHD.

If not enough oxygen-carrying blood reaches the heart muscle, a sharp, sudden chest pain angina may occur. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by total blockage of a coronary artery, the result is a heart attack. This is most often caused from a blood clot forming on top of an already narrowed artery. Cholesterol and other fats can't dissolve in the blood and, therefore, can't travel on their own.

They have to be transported to and from the cells by special carriers called lipoproteins. LDL is most often referred to as the "bad" cholesterol whereas HDL is known as the "good" cholesterol. LDLs carry cholesterol throughout the body to the cells. LDLs cause atherosclerosis by clogging up our arteries with the continual buildup of fat. HDL, on the other hand, prevents this fat buildup within arterial walls, by carrying it away from the arteries, to the liver where it is eventually processed and eliminated. While high levels of LDL are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease potentially leading to heart attack or stroke , high HDL can positively impact heart health, drastically reducing your risk of heart disease.

In fact, studies have shown that raising your good cholesterol reduces cardiovascular disease risks more than lowering bad cholesterol alone. Triglycerides are fats used as fuel by the body and as an energy source for metabolism. Triglyceride levels fluctuate easily, changing after every meal. Increased levels are almost always a sign of too much carbohydrate and sugar intake. Triglycerides in high amounts make the blood more sluggish and less capable of transporting oxygen, particularly through the smallest blood vessels.

High triglycerides is yet another independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease, leading to a heart attack or stroke. There are several medications physicians can prescribe for people with elevated triglyceride levels. Some of the most effective are the statins, but keep in mind there are some potentially dangerous side effects associated with their use. Natural medicine has thankfully found other options. Both the HDL-boosting combination and the LDL-lowering pantethine and plant sterols blend mentioned earlier can safely and effectively lower triglycerides.

In my many years of practice as a cardiologist, I've met a multitude of patients with undesirable cholesterol levels. And while numerous prescription medications have been developed to lower bad cholesterol, there are few medications that target good cholesterol. Patients with naturally low good cholesterol HDL I, therefore, referred to medical literature where I found that multiple nutrients that have been clinically shown to favorably alter good cholesterol levels.

My formulation combines heart healthy vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, E, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, magnesium and selenium, with protein-building amino acids, powerful antioxidants, such as coenzyme Q10 CoQ10 , alpha lipoic acid ALA , N-acetyl cysteine NAC , and policosanol, and extracts of hawthorn, garlic, grape seed, soy isoflavones, all of which have been shown to beneficially affect heart health.

The effects of this HDL-boosting combination were evaluated in an open label pilot study conducted at Scripps Memorial Hospital in The trial involved 50 patients, with varying cardiovascular health histories, who were evaluated prior to the study, then again at three and six months.

After three months of supplementation, good cholesterol levels increased in all groups and the overall lipid profile i. These changes were even more impressive in "at risk" groups i. Decreases in homocysteine, an amino acid found in the blood that has been inversely linked to cardiovascular health, were observed as well. And since we know that an increase in HDL - as little as one percent - can reduce heart disease risk by two to three percent, these findings have significant implications for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

It has been well-documented that high levels of HDL cholesterol are inversely related to coronary artery disease risk. HDL-3, the smaller form, is produced by the liver and intestines. This subtype is responsible for scavenging or "scooping up" free cholesterol from the blood vessel walls. The cholesterol carried by HDL-3 is then chemically modified, forming a new larger-sized and more buoyant subtype, known as HDL-2, or "mature HDL", which transports the cholesterol to the liver for processing and elimination. The HDL molecules are then recirculated in the blood stream to continue scavenging more cholesterol.

Research suggests that HDL-2, because it moves the cholesterol away from peripheral sites like the arterial wall , provides more heart-protection than the HDL-3 form. Although supplementation did not result in a significant reduction in LDL, antioxidants such as the ones found in this formulation can help stabilize LDL and prevent build-up in the arterial wall. This stabilization of LDL can not always be easily measured.

The clinical trial measured both LDL and lipoprotein a Lp a levels. Lp a is a subfraction of LDL cholesterol. This subfraction is an indicator of inflammation, and studies suggest that high levels of Lp a can speed up blood clot formation leading to blockage in the coronary arteries. The study found that although the reduction in Lp a did not reach statistical significance, there was a general trend towards Lp a reduction.

It is my belief that an extension of the study may lead to significant results. The formula combines essential vitamins and minerals, at levels recommended by the American Heart Association AHA , with amino acids, antioxidants, and botanicals, all of which have been used safely for years. The six-month pilot study, which involved 50 patients with varying cardiovascular histories, found no serious adverse effects following supplementation and demonstrated the combination is safe to use with statin drugs.

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In fact, both this HDL-boosting combination and the pantethine and plant sterol combination, clinically shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels, have very safe profiles. Pantethine, a form of pantothenic acid also known as vitamin B5 is found in small amounts in foods such as liver, salmon, and yeast.

Pantethine lowers cholesterol by blocking its production. Cholesterol synthesis, or the production of cholesterol in the human body, is an incredibly complex process. It involves many biochemical reactions and enzyme activity requiring several steps.


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Studies have shown that pantethine safely and effectively inhibits several of these enzymes and coenzymes. This results in significantly lower cholesterol production. But, that's not all. To compensate for the lowered cholesterol production, the liver pulls LDL out of the bloodstream. The end result? Plant sterols are the fats of plants. They are found in nuts, vegetable oils, corn, and rice. Plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and are able to act as a stand-in for cholesterol and block its absorption.

The liver receives about mg of cholesterol every day from intestinal absorption. The cholesterol enters these channels and is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Because plant sterols look like cholesterol, they fit perfectly into these channels. The cholesterol, being blocked from absorption, remains in our intestines where it is eventually excreted.

If we eat enough plant sterols, the amount of cholesterol transported from the intestinal tract to the liver is greatly reduced. And, just like pantethine's effect on the liver, this cholesterol reduction causes the liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood, reducing both total and LDL cholesterol levels. No, recent studies have shown that reducing bad and raising good cholesterol in people without heart disease greatly reduces their risk for ever developing CHD, including heart attacks and atherosclerosis.

This is true for those with high total cholesterol levels and for those with average cholesterol levels. Because of the potential side effects, physicians today generally do not prescribe statin drugs to people without actual heart disease or high cholesterol levels. Rather, they recommend dietary and lifestyle changes be implemented first. However, as we've discussed these changes are in some instances not enough to favorably alter undesirable cholesterol profiles. Fortunately, the HDL-boosting combination and the LDL-lowering pantethine and plant sterols blend can naturally and very effectively help those people with heart disease, uncontrolled cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels or all three!

This straightforward, highly readable resource offers a comprehensive overview of magnesium and its role in the body. Goodman lays the groundwork for magnesium enrichment by introducing the heart in all its complexity An easy-to-follow, extremely informative read My experience with HDL Booster was dramatic.

Within 3 months, my HDL went up by 50 percent, a nice surprise because it was pretty low before. It was around 30 and went up to However, patients who had surgery more than two years previously did not show faster processing. Veterans participating in the study take part in a supervised week exercise plan consisting of activities focused on strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance training.

The extensive exercise regimen can be adapted to individual musculoskeletal ailments. Fifty-four Veterans, all at least 60 years of age, are participating in the study. Two-thirds are participating in the exercise plan; the rest are free to pursue existing VA health initiatives. The study is expected to be completed in Exercise may help with symptoms of Parkinson's disease— A study by researchers with the Iowa City VA Health Care System and other sites found that 60 patients with Parkinson's disease who walked briskly for 45 minutes three times a week for six months showed improvements in their Parkinson's symptoms.

The participants' motor function and mood improved by an average of 15 percent. Their tiredness was reduced by 11 percent, and their attention and response control improved by 14 percent. However, a survey of more than Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans with PTSD led by researchers with VA's VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans in Waco, Texas, published in , found that those Veterans with PTSD who routinely engaged in activities to foster good nutrition, physical activity, stress management, spiritual growth, health responsibility, and interpersonal relationships have a less pronounced link to such thoughts.

The researchers believe that promoting these activities in Veterans with PTSD could help lower suicide risk among that group of Veterans. Preventing suicide through mindfulness-based cognitive therapy— Suicide prevention is one of the priority areas for VA research, and there is a great need for evidence-based psychotherapies that specifically address suicidal behavior. However, research into new psychotherapies is limited. As such, the VA has invested in research to evaluate new and innovative potential therapies.

The study is determining if MBCT-S is more effective than usual treatment in reducing suicide events; reducing suicide attempts; and reducing the severity of suicide ideation, depression, and hopelessness. The study ends in , with results forthcoming. The team found that within a group of Veterans with PTSD, those who did not participate regularly in spiritual practices, were angry at a higher power, or felt they had fallen short of religious expectations were more likely to have suicidal thoughts than those who had positive thoughts about religion and religious practices.

CIH use among Veterans with chronic pain— Many Veterans suffer from chronic musculoskeletal pain, and this type of pain is often difficult and costly to treat. VA researchers examined the medical records of more than half a million Veterans with musculoskeletal pain to determine how those who used CIH approaches e. Findings revealed that 27 percent of Veterans were using at least one of these CIH approaches.

Furthermore, those that did use at least one approach reported slightly less pain and had slightly lower health care costs than those who did not use any of the CIH approaches. Yoga helps chronic low back pain— Chronic low back pain affects many Veterans, but many current treatment options have limited effectiveness.

In addition to chronic pain, people with this issue experience increased disability, psychological symptoms such as depression, and reduced quality of life. In a study published in , researchers from the VA San Diego Healthcare System examined the impact of yoga for improving function and decreasing pain. Of the patients enrolled in the study, half attended minute hatha yoga classes twice weekly for 12 weeks. The others continued their existing treatments and were asked not to do yoga for six months.

They found that those taking the yoga classes lessened the intensity of their pain more than the control group by the time the classes ended, and still had less pain six months after the study began. Opioid medication use for pain declined among all participants in the study. The team believes that its findings support wider implementation of yoga for Veterans.

Consider an Integrative Approach to Heart Health

Caregiver-assisted massage may reduce pain— In , a team with VA's Evidence-based Synthesis Program ESP , based at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, published a report on the potential benefits of massage for neck and other types of pain, but concluded that larger, more rigorous studies were needed. In , a research team from the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis and Indiana University began a study to see if neck pain can be alleviated by regular massages given by Veterans' caregivers.

The study is enrolling Veterans with chronic neck pain.


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The others will be in one of two control arms: a group that gets massages from professional therapists and another that receives usual care. The hope is that the care allies will provide multiple hour-long sessions to the Veterans for multiple weeks, which is the amount of massage therapy most beneficial to those with neck pain—a dosage that is difficult to obtain from professional therapists. The study is scheduled to be completed in How electroacupuncture works— Electroacupuncture is a modern-day variation of the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a system of complementary medicine that involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles at specific points on the body to alleviate pain and treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions.

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In electroacupuncture, the needles carry a mild electrical current. As described in a article, a team of 40 researchers in the United States and South Korea, including VA researchers from Indianapolis, provided a picture of how electroacupuncture eases pain and promotes tissue repair. They found that electroacupuncture triggers the release of mesenchymal stem cells into the blood stream. These are adult stem cells found mainly in the bone marrow, and are being studied widely for their healing potential.

The research team believes the cells may be responsible for a range of therapeutic effect, such as the release of proteins that quell inflammation, and of the body's own natural opioids. Evidence lacking for benefits of medical marijuana— In , researchers from the VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health and Science University systematically reviewed 75 scientific publications on the effects of medical marijuana for many types of chronic pain. They found limited evidence that marijuana use might alleviate neuropathic pain in some patients, and that it might reduce spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.

Researchers concluded there was insufficient evidence on the benefits of marijuana for all other pain types. Current federal law prohibits the use or dispensing of marijuana. As a federal agency, VA follows this prohibition and does not prescribe medical marijuana to any of its patients. Mantram improves nursing care —Mantram repetition program MRP is a mind-body-spiritual approach to stress management. In , researchers from the Edwards Hines, Jr. Upon program completion, RNs reported higher levels of perceived mindfulness, spiritual well-being, and compassion satisfaction. Study authors concluded that I-MRP usage by RNs could facilitate nursing presence and the delivery of patient-centered nursing care.

Animal therapy and VA employee wellness —Animal therapy has been shown to benefit employee wellness in many ways, including by reducing stress, reducing absenteeism, and increasing productivity levels. Furthermore, animal therapy may also improve employee quality of work, morale, and job satisfaction. Between and , VA researchers are being funded to evaluate the use of an animal therapy program to improve employee wellness. The study is being conducted among health care providers and staff at an Illinois VA Women's Health clinic. People with tinnitus hear a persistent sound that can range from ringing or buzzing to a hissing or white noise hum, when there is no external sound source.

The distraction can impair people's ability to sleep or concentrate, and is sometimes disabling. The 64 participants enrolled in the study received either 2, pulses per session of TMS or a placebo for 10 consecutive workdays. Six months later, 56 percent of those receiving TMS positively responded to the treatment, compared with 22 percent of those in the placebo group.

The investigators asserted that before this procedure can be clinically implemented, larger studies should be conducted to refine treatment protocols. TMS for persistent headaches— VA researchers are looking at the potential benefits of transcranial magnetic stimulation TMS for a variety of conditions involving the brain. In TMS, clinicians take an electromagnetic coil, charge it with electricity, and apply it to specific points on the skull.

The result is a targeted magnetic field that can affect brain cells in a specific area.

Consider an Integrative Approach to Heart Health

TMS is FDA-approved for major depression that does not respond to other treatments, and for certain types of migraines. In , researchers at the VA San Diego Healthcare System studied 24 Veterans who had persistent daily headaches related to mild traumatic brain injury. Half of the participants received TMS three times within a week, and the other half did not receive the treatment.

After one week, about 58 percent of the TMS-treatment group showed at least a 50 percent reduction in headache intensity, versus only 17 percent of the control group. After four weeks, the TMS-treatment group continued to show greater improvement. To date, PMC funds 11 studies that are being conducted in health care settings serving military personnel, Veterans, and their families around the country. The study aims to improve pain, pain-related conditions, and opioid use.

Curcumin treatment leads to better cognitive and mood function in a model of Gulf War illness with enhanced neurogenesis, and alleviation of inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction in the hippocampus. Curcumin treatment can maintain better memory and mood function in a model of Gulf War illness. Brain Behav Immun. Randomized controlled trial of increasing physical activity on objectively measured and self-reported cognitive functioning among breast cancer survivors: the memory and motion study.

Increasing physical activity can improve cognition in breast cancer survivors who have been diagnosed within the past two years. Fecal microbiota transplant from a rational stool donor improves hepatic encephalopathy: a randomized clinical trial. Fecal transplants from a rationally selected donor reduced hospitalizations and improved cognition in patients with cirrhosis with recurrent hepatic encephalopathy. Yoga for military Veterans with chronic low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. Yoga improved health outcomes among Veterans despite evidence they had fewer resources, worse health, and more challenges attending yoga sessions than other communities.

Am J Prev Med. Improving vasomotor symptoms; psychological symptoms; and health-related quality of life in peri- or post-menopausal women through yoga: an umbrella systematic review and meta-analysis. Yoga may be a useful therapy to manage bothersome vasomotor and psychological symptoms. Complement Ther Med. Anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory agents, including probiotics, may represent a novel strategy to treat TBI and PTSD-related symptoms, but results to date do not support some claims within the extensive coverage of probiotics in the popular press.

Meditation and cardiovascular risk reduction: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Meditation instruction and practice is widely accessible and inexpensive and may thus be a potential attractive cost-effective adjunct to more traditional medical therapies. J Am Heart Assoc. The effects of cannabis among adults with chronic pain and an overview of general harms: a systematic review. Limited evidence suggests that cannabis may alleviate neuropathic pain in some patients, but insufficient evidence exists for other types of chronic pain.

Ann Intern Med. Impaired corneal sensation and nerve loss in a type 2 rat model of chronic diabetes is reversible with combination therapy of menhaden oil, alpha-lipoic acid, and enalapril. A combination therapeutic approach may be most effective for treating vascular and neural complications of type 2 diabetes. Electroacupuncture promotes central nervous system-dependent release of mesenchymal stem cells. Salazar TE et al. Stimulating the peripheral nervous system with needles leads to rapid activation of the hypothalamus. Stem Cells. Efficacy of the mantram repetition program for insomnia in Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: a naturalistic study.

Participants in a mantram repetition program significantly reduced insomnia and decreased self-reported and clinician-assessed PTSD symptom burden. Predicting suicide risk in trauma exposed Veterans: the role of health promoting behaviors. Health-promoting behaviors could be important for reducing suicidal ideation among Veterans with high levels of PTSD symptoms.

PloS One. Cinnamon converts poor learning mice to good learners: implications for memory improvement. Cinnamon can switch poor learners to good learners by stimulating hippocampal plasticity. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes. Systematic reviews of the use of tai chi in diverse clinical areas have indicated promising results.

Syst Rev. Review: Biofeedback could help treat a number of conditions.



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