Dr. Weyrich's Naturopathic Functional Medicine Notebook is a collection of information on topics of interest to Dr. Weyrich that may be of interest to the world wide audience. Due to limitations of time, not all information that Dr. Weyrich knows or would like to further research is published here. Dr. Weyrich welcomes financial contributions to support specific research topics, as well as copies of non-free access journal articles for him to review on a topic. Constructive criticism is also welcome.

Overview of Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries is an inflammatory process [Ross1999]. The source of the inflammation is subject to continuing debate, but some authors have suggested that one cause of inflammation may be recurrent infections associated with a immune system compromised by hypothyroid function [Barnes[Starr2005]. Indeed, there is considerable evidence dating back as far as 1877 that hypothyroidism accelerates the process of atherosclerosis [CSL1883], [Ord1877].

Complimentary and alternative treatments for atherosclerosis that are considered below include:

  • Neurotransmitter Balancing

Etiology of Atherosclerosis

Conventional medicine treats dyslipidemia as the major source of atherosclerosis, and promotes statin drugs and avoidance of dietary animal fats as the best way to prevent atherosclerosis. However, Dr. Starr argues against animal fats as a source of atherosclerosis:

... during and after World War II, the vast majority of people in Europe were deprived of eggs and animal fats. Yet, thousands of autopsy results from this period reveal that the rate of atherosclerosis was accelerated to four times the rate before or after this period [Starr2005, pg 166].
Dr. Starr continues by pointing out the "French Paradox" - the French diet is high in saturated fats such as eggs and butter, but they suffer lower rates of heart attacks. Dr. Weyrich notes that this has sometimes been attributed to the consumption of red wine, but also points out that at least one study shows that a 60% fat diet is more effective in improving dyslipidemia and losing weight than a 30% fat diet. As summarized by Dr. Starr, the results of the study reported by Duke University in 2002 are as follows [need reference]:
% Fat in dietWeight loss #% Change HDL% Change TG
60%30 #+11%-49%
30%20 #0%-22%

In conclusion, while dyslipidemia may be associated with atherosclerosis, association does not imply causality. In fact, avoidance of dietary fats is counterproductive to correcting dyslipidemia or preventing atherosclerosis. This is obvious by consideration of the historical graphs (Figures 1 and 2 below) [King2000] show that the well-known rise of heart disease in the United States over the past 50 years parallels the rise in the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners (Figure 2), and the rise in the consumption of vegetable oils (Figure 1). This historical data do not support the theory that consumption of animal fat including eggs is linked to heart disease.
Figure 1 from King2000 Figure 2 from King2000

On the other hand, correcting hypothyroidism appears to benefit both dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis - suggesting that hypothyroidism may be a causative factor in both dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis.

Treatment of Atherosclerosis

Please see conventional, complimentary and alternative medical treatments for important background information regarding the different types of medical treatments discussed below.

Naturopathic, Complimentary and Alternative Treatments

Neurotransmitter Balancing

Neuro Research [Hinz2015] reports that chronic diseases such as Atherosclerosis can be benefited by balancing neurotransmitter levels in the body.

Dr. Weyrich has been trained in neurotransmitter balancing protocols, but has not treated Atherosclerosis using this technique.

Please see What is Neurotransmitter Balancing? for more information.

References for Atherosclerosis