Herbs that Lower Your Cholesterol


Cholesterol is needed by your body, however, too much cholesterol can signal that you are at risk of heart disease

Cholesterol is needed by your body to make the walls of all your cells, to make hormones, to help make Vitamin D, and to help digest fat; however too much cholesterol can signal that you are at risk of heart disease.


Some types of cholesterol are better than others

Some types of cholesterol are better than others; the good cholesterol is called High Density Lipids (HDL), and the bad cholesterol is known as Low Density Lipids (LDL). A blood test shows how much of each of these are present, and will also show other fats in the blood.


Changes in your diet can help

Changes in your diet can help decrease the bad cholesterol and increase the good type.


High quality fat in your diet improves cholesterol

Contrary to popular belief including high quality fat in your diet can actually improve cholesterol level. It is very important to avoid damaging fats found in overheated and fast foods.


Avoid sugars

Even more important, avoid sugars and refined foods as these are most likely to cause imbalances leading to high cholesterol. There are many other important foods and nutrients that help lower the bad cholesterol.


Click here to read more about changes you can make to your diet to help cholesterol levels.


Naturopaths will always guide you about these dietary aspects; in addition we often include herbal remedies to help you reach a healthy cholesterol level.



Herbs used traditionally to lower cholesterol

Many herbs have been used traditionally to lower cholesterol [6], not all these have been the subject of research studies, but the scientific  evidence is growing and there is greater understanding about how herbs work [67].


Milk thistle or Silybum marianum

The herb commonly known as Milk thistle (or by its botannical name Silybum marianum), has long had a great reputation for stimulating healing in the liver. It has recently been shown that it helps give healthier cholesterol levels [1, 2]. In a study a few years ago, fifty people who had Type 2 diabetes, and unhealthily high cholesterol, were given Silybum marianum. After four months not only were their bad cholesterol levels and blood fats lower, but their blood sugar levels also improved [2].


Artichoke or Cynara scolymus

Artichoke, or botannical name Cynara scolymus, can be used as a food but is best taken as a more concentrated herbal medicine. It can inhibit your body from making too much cholesterol [3]. When seventy five people with high cholesterol took a herbal preparation of Artichoke for 12 weeks their overall cholesterol dropped to a healthier level [4]. Artichoke has also been shown to be helpful with indigestion, probably as it helps break down fat [5].


Berberine found in many herbs

Berberine is a substance found in many herbs that are used traditionally to support the liver and lower cholesterol; research findings show berberine lowers cholesterol and blood fats in a  different way to statin drugs [8].


Guggul or Commiphora mukul

The herb Guggul (or botannical name Commiphora mukul) has been used traditionally for over 2000 years [6]. When people took this herb for 9 months their cholesterol levels improved as much as the reported cholesterol and blood fat lowering effect of modern drugs [9].


Withania somnifera

Another herb Withania somnifera is being studied by scientists with regard to its beneficial effects on cholesterol; they demonstrate it can decrease the bad cholesterol, blood fats and total cholesterol, and increase the good cholesterol [10, 11].


Herbs tend to be safer and have fewer side effects

When taken correctly herbs tend to have fewer side effects and are safer than many pharmaceutical medications used to lower cholesterol, this makes the herbal option more appealing to many people [5, 10].


White Horehound

White Horehound (botanical name Marrubium vulgare) has a number of traditional uses; it can help respiratory problems, digestive problems, help lower blood sugar levels, and will also decrease cholesterol and blood fats [12131415].


Gymnema herb

The  Gymnema herb (botanical name Gymnema sylvestre) has had a long history of use in Audevic medicine to lower bood sugar levels and reduce obesity. Research has been undertaken in recent years which demonstrates it helps lower both blood sugar levels and cholesterol [16]. A compound called dihydroxy gymnemic triacetatefound in Gymnema has been found to  lower blood sugar levels, triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and improve HDL-cholesterol; in addition it has been shown to help liver function [17].



Hawthorn (botanical name Crataegus monogyna) traditionally used in all heart and circulation complaints will also improve cholesterol [1819].


Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba works in a very different way to statin medications to decrease cholesterol [20].


Ensure you receive advice before using any herbal medicines.


Contact Bay Health Clinic today to find out more about herbal medicine that can be tailored to your personal needs and to book your Naturopathic consultation; call 07 571 3226 or email us: ask@bayhealth.nz


Jaine Kirtley MRN RN Reg. Nurse Reg. Naturopath

Copyright of text © Jaine Kirtley Bay Naturopath contact us to use this article


Click here to read more about how you can help your heart and circulation.



- Click on the references to be directed to the websites giving details of the study and research


1.                    `kottová N, VeeYa R, Urbánek K, VáHa P, Walterová D, Cvak L: Effects of polyphenolic fraction of silymarin on lipoprotein profile in rats fed cholesterol-rich diets. Pharmacological Research 2003, 47(1):17-26.

2.                    Huseini HF, Larijani B, Heshmat R, Fakhrzadeh H, Radjabipour B, Toliat T, Raza M:The efficacy of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. (silymarin) in the treatment of type II diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Phytotherapy Research 2006, 20(12):1036-1039.

3.                    Gebhardt R: Inhibition of Cholesterol Biosynthesis in Primary Cultured Rat Hepatocytes by Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) Extracts. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 1998, 286(3):1122-1128.

4.                    Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Wallis C, Simpson HCR:Artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: A randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2008, 15(9):668-675.

5.                    Kraft K:Artichoke leaf extract Recent findings reflecting effects on lipid metabolism, liver and gastrointestinal tracts. Phytomedicine 1997, 4(4):369-378.

6.                    Urizar NL, Moore DD: GUGULIPID: A Natural Cholesterol-Lowering Agent. Annual Review of Nutrition 2003, 23(1):303-313.

7.                    Deng R, Yang D, Radke A, Yang J, Yan B:The Hypolipidemic Agent Guggulsterone Regulates the Expression of Human Bile Salt Export Pump: Dominance of Transactivation over Farsenoid X Receptor-Mediated Antagonism. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 2007, 320(3):1153-1162.

8.                    Kong W, Wei J, Abidi P, Lin M, Inaba S, Li C, Wang Y, Wang Z, Si S, Pan H et al: Berberine is a novel cholesterol-lowering drug working through a unique mechanism distinct from statins. Nat Med 2004, 10(12):1344-1351.

9.                    Singh RB, Niaz MA, Ghosh S: Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of commiphora mukul as an adjunct to dietary therapy in patients with hypercholesterolemia. Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy 1994, 8(4):659-664.

10.                 Visavadiya NP, Narasimhacharya AVRL: Hypocholesteremic and antioxidant effects of Withania somnifera (Dunal) in hypercholesteremic rats. Phytomedicine 2007, 14(2-3):136-142.

11.                 Hemalatha S, Wahi AK, Singh PN, Chansouria JPN: Hypolipidemic activity of aqueous extract of Withania coagulans Dunal in albino rats. Phytotherapy Research 2006, 20(7):614-617.

12.                 Herrera-Arellano A, Aguilar-Santamaría L, García-Hernández B, Nicasio-Torres P, Tortoriello J: Clinical trial of Cecropia obtusifolia and Marrubium vulgare leaf extracts on blood glucose and serum lipids in type 2 diabetics. Phytomedicine 2004, 11(7-8):561-566.

13.                 Boudjelal A, Henchiri C, Siracusa L, Sari M, Ruberto G: Compositional analysis and in vivo anti-diabetic activity of wild Algerian Marrubium vulgare L. infusion. Fitoterapia (0).

14.                 Elberry AA, Harraz FM, Ghareib SA, Gabr SA, Nagy AA, Abdel-Sattar E: Methanolic extract of Marrubium vulgare ameliorates hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. International Journal of Diabetes Mellitus 2011(0).

15.                 Berrougui H, Isabelle M, Cherki M, Khalil A: Marrubium vulgare extract inhibits human-LDL oxidation and enhances HDL-mediated cholesterol efflux in THP-1 macrophage. Life Sciences 2006, 80(2):105-112.

16.                 Nakamura Y, Tsumura Y, Tonogai Y, Shibata T: Fecal Steroid Excretion Is Increased in Rats by Oral Administration of Gymnemic Acids Contained in Gymnema sylvestre Leaves. The Journal of Nutrition 1999, 129(6):1214-1222.

17.                 Daisy P, Eliza J, Mohamed Farook KAM: A novel dihydroxy gymnemic triacetate isolated from Gymnema sylvestre possessing normoglycemic and hypolipidemic activity on STZ-induced diabetic rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2009, 126(2):339-344.

18.                 Zhang Z, Ho WKK, Huang Y, James AE, Lam LW, Chen Z-Y: Hawthorn Fruit Is Hypolipidemic in Rabbits Fed a High Cholesterol Diet. The Journal of Nutrition 2002, 132(1):5-10.

19.                 Zhang Z, Ho WKK, Huang Y, Chen Z-Y: Hypocholesterolemic activity of hawthorn fruit is mediated by regulation of cholesterol-7±-hydroxylase and acyl CoA: cholesterol acyltransferase. Food Research International 2002, 35(9):885-891.

20.                 Xie Z-q, Gai L, Zhang L, Wang Q, Qu Y, Gao Y, Lin L-b, Ye S, Zhang J, Wang H et al: Molecular mechanisms underlying the cholesterol-lowering effect of Ginkgo biloba extract in hepatocytes: a comparative study with lovastatin. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2009, 30(9):1262-1275.