Cholesterol, Heart Disease, and Depression;  It may not be quite what we thought!

Cholesterol is one of the most important molecules in the body, and in 
our efforts to reduce it we may be causing a tremendous amount of harm. 
 Heart disease is a problem in this country but not because of high 
cholesterol – the culprit is inflammation in our arteries, and the
 causes are many. There is a complex relationship between inflammation, 
heart disease and high cholesterol; but as we so often do, we have 
missed the cause of the disease and have been unsuccessfully treating a

The liver manufactures 90% of the cholesterol that is in our body, and 
for a good reason. We need cholesterol for a number of purposes: to 
manufacture sex hormones and stress hormones, to make bile salts so that
 we can digest fats, and to provide stability to the structure of every 
cell membrane; cholesterol acts as the glue that holds our cells 
together. There are also numerous studies that document low
 cholesterol’s (below 160 total) contribution to depression (including 
postpartum), increased violent tendencies, suicide, and an increase in
 accidental death. High cholesterol is correlated with an increase in 

Our understanding of how cholesterol works and its relationship to
 coronary health and arteriosclerosis has changed dramatically in the 
last ten years. Our biggest concerns about high cholesterol revolve 
around the idea that if cholesterol is high, it will cause plaque build 
up and a clogging of the arteries. It is true that if there is a build up 
of cholesterol in the arteries and that if for some reason it is 
released, then this can result in a heart attack or stroke. But what
 causes this build up to occur in the first place? By addressing this 
cause we can certainly prevent and even reverse this disease more

As discussed in the book The Homocysteine Revolution by Kilmer McCulley, 
M.D., a major causative factor in coronary artery disease is
 homocysteinuria, or high homocysteine. This genetic condition will cause 
inflammation in the arteries in 10% of the population, resulting in 
early and deadly arteriosclerosis. Some individuals have a diminished
 ability to break down homocysteine as they age. Smoking cigarettes and 
high serum iron (which is often overlooked) are two other examples of 
irritants that increase inflammation, thereby contributing to

Dr. McCulley’s work was discounted and discredited for many years partly 
because the treatment for homocysteinuria is simply the administration
 of several B vitamins, which is an inexpensive and non-pharmaceutical
 approach. But his findings demonstrate the role of inflammation in 
coronary disease, and are of the utmost significance. When one considers 
that inflammation is a major contributing factor, it allows for many
 more treatment options that are non-toxic and that do not require the
 use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, which have numerous side effects. 
Lipitor and Baycol are two of the notable drugs that have recently been 
in the press for their lethal side effects. The liver toxicity of these 
drugs has been known since their inception, and was considered an
 acceptable risk. However, with the knowledge that we now have about
 cholesterol, reconsidering this “acceptable risk” is critical.

According to Joseph Mercola, M.D. in his web page,, 
if the new AMA guidelines for cholesterol levels are adopted by the 
traditional medical community, half of the population of this country 
would eventually be on these drugs. Many alternative medicine 
professionals consider a total cholesterol level from 210-220 to be
 optimal. The traditional medical community considers levels over 200 as
 too high. More important however, are the HDL/LDL ratios. HDL and LDL 
are what are commonly called “good” and “bad” cholesterol. One rule of
 thumb is to look at the HDL (the “good” cholesterol), which would be 70

When considering how to treat high cholesterol (over 250-260, depending 
on the HDL), one must look at liver function, since it is the main 
producer of cholesterol. Therefore, whatever is toxic to the liver will
 interfere with its proper or optimal function, whether the cholesterol
 is high or low. Low cholesterol levels indicate the inability of the 
liver to manufacture enough cholesterol. High cholesterol levels often 
indicate an over-production of cholesterol by the liver, in an effort to
 maintain equilibrium in the presence of toxins throughout the body.
 These toxins would include, but are not limited to, pharmaceutical,
 over-the-counter, and recreational drugs, such as hormone replacement 
therapy and birth control pills; margarine and trans fats; alcohol, 
sugar, pesticides, insecticides, and pollutants in general, the hormones 
and antibiotics found in animal products (especially those not
 organically raised), stress, coffee, cigarettes and so on.

These toxic substances are causes of inflammation, and their elimination
 from the diet can be invaluable in treating and preventing heart 
disease. But other interventions also may be necessary with the help of
 a healthcare professional. It has been well documented that, along with 
the dietary management described in the previous paragraph, the use of 
properly balanced minerals, proteolytic enzymes (these help with the 
digestion of proteins, thereby decreasing inflammation); vitamins, good 
quality protein and good fats, can go a long way in treating and 
reversing heart disease. In some cases, the use of herbs, acupuncture, 
stress management/therapy, homeopathy and other noninvasive therapies, 
will further enhance this detoxification and healing process.

It is well known that there are populations in Northern Italy that have 
high levels of cholesterol and yet heart disease is low. Cholesterol is
 clearly not a problem for them. High cholesterol simply reflects the 
effort the body makes to try to self regulate and create homeostasis. It
 is a symptom that is likely to correct itself or at least not be a
 problem when the rest of the body, and the liver in particular, is given 
a chance to heal and operate as it was meant to. In our effort to lower
 cholesterol, we are creating many other problems that are worse than the 
disease itself. We are not listening to our bodies and are ignoring the 
wisdom it has to offer.