• Achillea wilhelmsii,
Triglycerides belong to a group of fat-related substances called lipids. An increase in levels of certain lipids—a condition called “hyperlipidemia”—contributes to heart disease.
To test for hyperlipidemia, physicians rely on blood tests called lipid profiles that measure triglycerides as well as two types of the lipid cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol.
In many people with hyperlipidemia, elevation of LDL predominates. Drugs in the
In some people with hyperlipidemia, however, high triglyceride levels are the primary problem. These people are just as much at risk for heart disease as people with elevated LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, if triglyceride levels get high enough, the pancreas may become inflamed, causing a dangerous condition called pancreatitis. Skin lesions called xanthomas may occur as well.
Common causes of elevated triglyceride levels include genetic predisposition, diabetes, excessive alcohol intake, and various medications (including
People with high triglycerides may not respond well to statin drugs. Instead, they may need to use high-dose
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Fish oil has shown distinct promise for treating hypertriglyceridemia. More than 2,000 people have participated in well-designed studies of fish oil for reducing triglyceride levels. 1
It appears that fish oil supplements can reduce triglycerides by about 25% to 30%. Although not all studies have been positive, in a detailed review of 47 randomized trials, researchers concluded that fish oil is capable of significantly reducing triglyceride levels with no change in total cholesterol levels and only slight increases in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
For more information, see the full
Fish oil has been studied for reducing triglyceride levels specifically in people with
Fish oil is a source of
In addition, a slightly modified form of fish oil (ethyl-omega-3 fatty acids) has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for hypertriglyceridemia (high triglycerides).
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Numerous studies indicate that soy
However, chromium does not appear to be effective for reducing triglyceride levels in people without diabetes.
Walnut oil has shown some promise for reducing triglycerides.
Most natural treatments used to reduce cholesterol have the potential to reduce triglyceride levels as well. For more information on these many options, see the full
4. Durrington PN, Bhatnagar D, Mackness MI, et al. An omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrate administered for one year decreased triglycerides in simvastatin treated patients with coronary heart disease and persisting hypertriglyceridaemia. Heart . 2001;85:544-548.
5. Mori TA, Burke V, Puddey IB, et al. Purified eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids have differential effects on serum lipids and lipoproteins, LDL particle size, glucose, and insulin in mildly hyperlipidemic men. Am J Clin Nutr . 2000;71:1085-1094.
9. Davidson MH, Maki KC, Kalkowski J, et al. Effects of docosahexaenoic acid on serum lipoproteins in patients with combined hyperlipidemia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Am Coll Nutr . 1997;16:236-243.
12. Gaddi A, Descovich GC, Noseda G, et al. Controlled evaluation of pantethine, a natural hypolipidemic compound, in patients with different forms of hyperlipoproteinemia. Atherosclerosis . 1984;50:73-83.
13. Angelico M, Pinto G, Ciaccheri C, et al. Improvement in serum lipid profile in hyperlipoproteinaemic patients after treatment with pantethine: a crossover, double-blind trial versus placebo. Curr Ther Res . 1983;33:1091-1097.
21. Uusitupa MI, Kumpulainen JT, Voutilainen E, et al. Effect of inorganic chromium supplementation on glucose tolerance, insulin response, and serum lipids in noninsulin-dependent diabetics. Am J Clin Nutr . 1983;38:404-410.
24. Offenbacher EG, Rinko CJ, Pi-Sunyer FX. The effects of inorganic chromium and brewer’s yeast on glucose tolerance, plasma lipids, and plasma chromium in elderly subjects. Am J Clin Nutr . 1985;42:454-461.
25. Roeback JR Jr, Hla KM, Chambless LE, Fletcher RH. Effects of chromium supplementation on serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in men taking beta-blockers. A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med . 1991;115:917-924.
27. Gupta A, Gupta R, Lal B. Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Assoc Physicians India . 2001;49:1057-1061.
30. Babu JR, Sundravel S, Arumugam G, et al. Salubrious effect of vitamin C and vitamin E on tamoxifen-treated women in breast cancer with reference to plasma lipid and lipoprotein levels. Cancer Lett . 2000;151:1-5.
32. Schwellenbach LJ, Olson KL, McConnell KJ, et al. The triglyceride-lowering effects of a modest dose of docosahexaenoic acid alone versus in combination with low-dose eicosapentaenoic acid in patients with coronary artery disease and elevated triglycerides. J Am Coll Nutr . 2006;25:480-5.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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