We’ve all heard it—lower your cholesterol to avoid stroke and heart attack. There are some great medications for lowering a person’s cholesterol especially if they are at a higher risk of build-up in the arteries.

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance required in the body for the function and balance of cells and nerves. Cholesterol occurs in all parts of the body, but it is when it travels through the blood stream causing plaque that it can build up on the wall of the arteries and interrupt the vital job of blood flow. If cholesterol is not kept in check, it can block or substantial inhibit the flow of blood causing the stroke and/or death of the heart tissue.

The Western diet contains a great deal of refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats. These foods are the culprits to raising our LDL (lousy cholesterol) and lowering our HDL (healthy cholesterol). Do you know your numbers?

  • Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dl.
  • Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dl.
  • HDL “good” cholesterol over 40 mg/dl.
  • LDL “bad” cholesterol less than 100 mg/dl.

The bad news is cholesterol levels tend to be high in the United States because we like our fast food, sugar refined foods, and high fats. We’re also too sedentary. But the good news is we’re in control of our lifestyle choices and can make small changes that amount to big improvements. Here are a few tips:

  • If you smoke—STOP.
  • Eliminate sugar—or at least avoid it as often as possible.
  • Cut caffeine
  • Eat 1 cup of oatmeal daily (not the packaged kind, the real oats that you cook yourself)
  • Drink whole milk, not lo-fat (there’s healthy fats in whole milk)
  • Read labels and ban trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils
  • Get moving 30 minutes a day (walking is enough!)
  • Reduce your stress (garden, fish, read a magazine)
  • Protect your sleep (fight for 6-8 hours a night)
  • Eat Fish 2-4 times a week to fight inflammation
  • Drop just 10 pounds
  • Eat more nuts (just be aware of the serving size)
  • Spice up your life with cinnamon, pepper, garlic, curcumin, ginger, coriander, lemon and lime.
  • Laugh more, visit friends, enjoy family—get a dog!
  • Get a massage
  • Use essential oils like lavender and rosemary

The other studies I’ve found are taking CBD on a regular basis. CBD is an anti-inflammatory plant cannabinoid that not only reduces inflammation but increases HDL-C or good cholesterol and aids in lowering LDL-C (bad cholesterol).

According to CBD:A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis by Leonard Leinow and Juliana Birnbaum (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2017) “Cholesterol is a chronic inflammatory disorder involving the progressive depositing of atherosclerotic plaques. A growing body of evidence suggests that endocannabinoid signaling plays a critical role in the pathology of atherogenesis. The condition is now understood to be a physical response to injuries in the arterial walls’ lining, causing by high blood pressure, infectious microbes, or excessive presence of an amino acid called homocysteine. CB2 receptors in CBD triple in response to inflammations, allowing anadamind and 2-ag, the body’s natural cannabinoids to decrease inflammatory responses. The CB2 receptor is also stimulated by the plant-based cannabinoids.”

Each person reacts differently to oral CBD and will need to do their own research along with their doctor to determine the amount of CBD required to lower your cholesterol naturally or to determine if this is a possibility for you. I personally prefer natural solutions whenever possible to avoid the contra-indications of prescription medications.

If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol naturally, try the tips above, and consider adding CBD to your daily routine.