High Cholesterol in Ayurveda

Cholesterol, a waxy, fat‐like substance (lipid) found in the cell membrane, is a precursor of bile acids and steroid hormones. Because it is insoluble in water, cholesterol is transported to the blood through compounds made of lipids and proteins called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins are classified by their density as:

  • VLDL – Very low-density lipoprotein
  • LDL – Low density lipoprotein
  • IDL – Intermediate density lipoprotein
  • HDL – High density lipoprotein
LDL cholesterol is named as ‘bad cholesterol’. High level of LDL leads to build up of cholesterol in the arteries. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
HDL cholesterol is named as ‘good cholesterol’. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are protective in nature. It carries cholesterol from other parts of the body back to liver. The liver removes the cholesterol from your body.


Hypercholesterolemia means ‘high quantity of cholesterol in the blood’. It is a form of ‘high blood lipids’ and hyperlipoproteinaemia. High levels of LDL in the blood may be a consequence of diet, obesity, familial hypercholesterolemia (genetic diseases), diabetes or hypothyroidism Another name – Dyslipidaemia

Signs and Symptoms

Hypercholesterolemia is most often asymptomatic. It doesn’t have its fixed set of symptoms. Most people with high cholesterol don’t have any symptoms until cholesterol-related atherosclerosis causes significant narrowing of the arteries leading to their hearts and or brains. The general symptoms are as said below:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Atheromatous
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
Other symptoms and presentations of Hypercholesterolemia –
  • Tissue and organ ischemia
  • Xanthelasma palpebrarum – manifests as yellowish patches of cholesterol deposits above the eyelids or underneath the skin around the eyelids. This condition is common in people with familial hypercholesterolemia (Type II a hyperlipoproteinemia).
  • Arcus senilis – white or grey discolouration of the peripheral cornea
  • Xanthomata – deposition of yellowish cholesterol-rich material of the tendons, especially of the fingers.
  • Type III hyperlipidemia – may be associated with xanthomata of palms, knees and elbows


Hypercholesterolemia is usually a combined effect of environmental and genetic factors.
The environmental causes are:

  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Stress
The genetic causes:
  • Due to the additive effects of multiple genes
  • Single gene defect (ex, familial hypercholesterolemia)
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia affects about 1 in every 500 individuals
Secondary causes:
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Nephritic syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Monoclonal gammopathy
  • Dialysis
  • Medicines like thiazide diuretics, cyclosporine, glucocorticoids, beta blockers, retinoic acid

Ayurvedic View

There is no particular term corresponding to hypercholesterolaemia in Ayurveda. However, the term dyslipidaemia can be considered close to the Ayurvedic terms medovriddhi or medodushti.

Ayurvedic line of treatment

The ayurvedic approach to hypercholesterolemia involves methods to

  • Increase the digestive fire to digest the aama,
  • Regulating assimilation and elimination and controlling the causative factors.
  • Several individual herbs and combinations of herbs are used in ayurveda for the management of medo dhatu vriddhi (increased lipids), aama and metabolic disorder.
  • Avoiding the Causes for vitiation of Medo vaha srotas (mentioned below) –
    • Avyaayaama – Lack of exercise
    • Diva swapna – sleeping during day time
    • Medhyaanaam cha ati sevanam – eating luxurious, fat rich, fried and caloric foods in excess
    • Vaaruni – excessive consumption of an alcoholic product called Varuni
Other treatment measure
  • Karshana – Thus Karshana or thinning therapy is the best in combating the diseases related to vitiation of Medovaha srotas.
  • Guru-Apatarpana – The person who is obese should be given guru ahara (heavy to digest food) at the same time administering Apatarpana (under-saturating or thinning treatments and medicines) chikitsa Apatarpana includes light foods and medicines which thin the subjects; therefore, it is antagonistic to meda.

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