When a High LDL Count Doesn’t Mean You Have High Cholesterol

By all traditional counts, I have high cholesterol and have always had high cholesterol. My counts have consistently topped the border of moderately elevated to high. I think my first cholesterol test was around 20 years old. Back then, my cholesterol was 232 mg/dL.

If you don’t remember what the categories and measurements are for cholesterol, here they are.

  • Good, total count under 200 mg/dL.
  • Moderately elevated total count 200-239 mg/dL.
  • High total count of over 240 mg/dL.
  • Really high is over 500 mg/dL.

In Chinese Medicine, there are all sorts of reasons for high cholesterol. What frustrates me is I seem to be able to treat everyone else’s high cholesterol but my own. My thoughts were, “What am I missing?”

I reduced my fat intake and moved to more protein and carbs. My cholesterol didn’t budge. I started overeating protein and found that it impacted my kidneys. So, I moved to vegetables and carbs and found I was able to gain weight and feel tired. Carbs just were never my friend.

Then my cholesterol levels went up. What? I wasn’t eating fat.

I even broke down and tried statins. Within 3 days, I was able to get every side effect that was considered “serious” and warranted immediately stopping statins. 

So now what? I pretty much had given up.

I ran across “Sugar: the Bitter Truth” with Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology. When it comes to health, there is not a one size fits all. With especially complicated issues, it can take multiple different perspectives. Although this lecture is from 2009, his research is relevant and identifies non-traditional methods of getting high cholesterol.

Around 11 minutes, Dr. Lustig talks about the 1982 campaign to reduce heart disease by eliminating fat. This was part of the hypothesis that fats caused LDL cholesterol levels to increase. Over the next decades, the US reduced consumption of fats, and the rate of heart disease and heart attacks increased.  

Here is where the research starts to get interesting. We don’t just have one type of LDL. We have two. One is called LDLa and is identified as large buoyant cholesterol that floats through the bloodstream. The other is called LDLb and is defined as small dense cholesterol that can tunnel its way into the arterial walls. 

I bet that just gave you a clue that not all LDL’s are bad. The large, fluffy LDLa is actually a good LDL. The small dense LDLb is the bad stuff. The small dense LDLb is heavy and sinks to the arterial walls where it can start plaques.

If LDL is not broken out into LDLa and LDLb on your blood draw, how can you tell how much bad cholesterol you have? Dr. Lustig points to the triglyceride level. A low triglyceride level indicates your LDLa is mainly the good guys. Woot! Things are looking good. Whereas, a high triglyceride level says your LDLs are primarily the bad guys. Boo, hiss, hiss. 

Couple this with a triglyceride to HDL (high-density lipoproteins) of less than 3, and you’re doing really well.

Dietary fats raise your LDLa levels (the good guys). What surprised me was dietary carbohydrates raised your LDLb levels (the bad guys)! You saw what I said earlier. I had finally switched over to carbohydrate and vegetable diet to try and address my health and that was a complete fail. Not only was I able to gain weight, but my cholesterol levels also started spiking. 

I remember as a teenager trying macrobiotics. My mom was on a stringent macrobiotic diet for cancer. To learn more, check out my book “Caregivers Survival Guide, how to eliminate stress in 30 minutes with Chinese Medicine and other useful tools” available on Amazon. After two weeks, she said she felt great. My sister did the diet. Two weeks later, she was feeling great. I did the diet. Two weeks later, I was feeling like crap and starting to gain weight. Three weeks later, I was even more exhausted and depressed. I was bloated and weighed more. I also was not feeling an end to the “detox” portion of the eating regime. 

I finally broke my eating regime and pounded down a pizza and a milkshake and felt great. I also started losing weight. The macrobiotic diet my mother was on was a limited high carbohydrate diet. It really didn’t work for me. I wonder if part of the reason the diet worked for my mother and sister was that they were both Blood Type B and I wasn’t. To learn more about blood types, check out “Blood Types and Your Risk of Covid-19.”  Sure, it looks at how blood types affect Covid-19, but it also shows more on blood type research and how to get more information on blood types, food, and disease. 

I had an idea that carbs were my nemesis. When I started consuming high fructose corn syrup in foods, drinks, and just about anything that is food, my health worsened.

I had always thought glucose and fructose were processed the same in the body. I can tell you, my nutrition classes, my biology classes, my health classes, none of them suggested these two types of sugars were different and processed differently in the body. I took a nutrition class as recently as 2012 at Washington State University. The course talked about glucose and fructose, stating these molecules had 4 calories per gram. Not much of anything else.

The thing is, glucose and fructose are not processed anywhere near the same in the body. When you consume glucose, 80% of glucose disseminates throughout the body for immediate use. 20% is stored in the liver as glycogen. The liver can store any amount of glycogen because it is non-toxic.

Fructose is processed similarly to how the body processes ethanol in the body, except that fructose, is not metabolized in the brain. The lack of the ability of the brain to use fructose is fascinating because the most significant energy source for the brain is glucose or sugar. Also, unlike glucose, where only 20% of the sugar goes to the liver, 100% of fructose transfers into the liver. Only the liver can metabolize fructose. Watch this video to learn how to detox your liver.

As fructose is getting metabolized in the body, the molecule goes through phosphorylation. Here a phosphoryl molecule is attached to the fructose. I bring this up for only one reason. Because so much more material is being pushed through the liver when you consume fructose, it runs into a resource problem with the phosphoryl molecules. 

When I was growing up, Malt-o-milk was made with lecithin. Lecithin has a phosphate group, and I use to crave lecithin. I would put tablespoons of this in my malt. I could eat it off the spoon. Even today, I like lecithin. Today, Malt-o-milk is not made with lecithin. 

But fructose doesn’t stop there. Whereas almost no glucose is converted to fat, a whopping 30% of the fructose is converted to fat. So, when fructose is not going off increasing your blood pressure, consuming your resources, causing insulin resistance, it’s getting transformed into fat and cholesterol. 

Dr. Lustig’s information was especially relevant because my triglycerides had always been low, and HDL had always been high. If his research is correct, then my cholesterol levels are proper. Even though my cholesterol falls in the moderately high range, because my triglyceride to HDL ration and the total level of triglycerides and HDL are in the right ranges, my LDL should be the good LDL. And, Dr. Lustig’s research outlines a potential reason for my increasing cholesterol levels. Excessive consumption of High Fructose Corn Syrup. 

In 2010 FDA approved statins for primary prevention of Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD). Since 2010 statins can be prescribed to every adult male over 50 years old and female over 60 years old as a preventative therapy whether the patient has high cholesterol or not. The profitability of statins increased, making it challenging to present research that takes a less than favorable light of statins. The efficacy of statins as treatment continues to depend on who you ask. 

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9 Legendary Chinese Herbs to Treat Viral Infections Like the Flu

A significant concern in Western Medicine is treating viral infections. There are two treatments: vaccines and antiviral medications. Most viruses have no remedy. A few viruses like polio and measles have vaccines to help boost the immune system. Or, a few viral infections have antiviral medications. Antivirals are unique because they change the way our human cells function, not the virus.


Recently, people around the globe starting hearing about how China was using Chinese Medical herbs as critical support in their treatment of COVID-19. Chinese Medicine has a great pharmacy of herbs and herbal formulas that are antiviral, something Western medicine doesn’t have, which makes these medications rare and distinguished.


I’ve always had a hard time understanding the difference between viruses and bacterias and why antibiotics didn’t work on viruses. Long after I joined the medical profession, I understood the difference between viruses and bacterias.


When I was growing up, antibiotics were prescribed for everything. I was one of those babies who, around six months, had some sort of viral infection. The doctor prescribed rounds of penicillin that had no effect and, after a time, seemed to worsen the condition. Ultimately, I was driven 3 hours to a specialist and, since I’m writing this, I recovered.


What was interesting about that experience is it left a lasting change in my chemistry. My body no longer responded to penicillin. It was like the heavy doses of penicillin at such a young age had mutated every bacteria in my tiny frame, making them resistant to penicillin.


For years I tried to explain this resistance to my doctors. And for years, doctors worked to help me understand that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I stopped trying to tell them it was resistance and said I was allergic to penicillin.


About 20 years ago, things changed. The use of antibiotics had created “Super-bugs” like MRSA. These super-bugs were unique because they were bacterial and fungal infections that had evolved to be resistant to multiple antibiotics. I no longer had to say I’m allergic to penicillin. I could say I am resistant to penicillin, and everyone understood.

bacteria
Bacteria cell structure


Viruses and bacterias are different in an extraordinary way. A bacteria is a unique, self-contained, one cell, living organism. It has everything it needs to survive and grow. The whole machinery of a bacteria cell is encased in a hard cell wall. And this cell looks nothing like a human cell.

Virus
The structure of the AIDS virus.

Viruses do not have all the equipment necessary for growth. If you look at the picture of the virus, it only has a small piece of the genetic material. In this instance, it only has the RNA replication instructions encased in the soft protein layer. To create more life, it has to hi-jack the rest of the equipment and does that by invading your human cells and taking over the cell.

Bacteria and viruses have different treatment in Western Medicine. Bacteria most often can be cured with antibiotics. Antibiotics work by addressing the unique structure of the bacteria. They find a foreign invader and change how the foreign cell works.

For viruses, viruses take over our cells. So, the treatment is different. Vaccines are geared towards igniting our immune response to the virus. A few viruses have antivirals that target our human cells after the invasion and change how our human cells function. The antivirals can’t separate the virus from us because the virus has already crawled its way into our cells and is indistinguishable from us. The antivirals can’t destroy the pathogen because that would kill us. Instead, it changes how our cells function to slow the spread and hopefully give our immune system time to catch up.

Education Chart of Biology for Classification of Animals Diagram. Vector illustration

Bottom line – when it comes to viruses in Western Medicine, your immune system is the treatment.

Yet, China has never limited itself to solely Western or non-Western medicine. It is common for hospitals in China to employ both Western-trained and Traditional Chinese Medical practitioners to treat patients with each practitioner treating the aspect most suited to medicine. The combined efforts have not changed with the treatment of COVID-19.

China mandated that Chinese Medicine be on the frontlines when treating this disease. Why is that?

The critical reason is the Chinese herbal pharmacy has antiviral herbs.

Due to these antiviral drugs, the Chinese herbal pharmacy has always been at the forefront of treating influenza. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to flu and the same herbs and herbal formulas used for the severe flu are being used in China as supportive therapy with COVID-19.

These exceptional herbs are compounded into formulas that address symptoms found in the seasonal flu, respiratory infections, and common cold. Here are nine of the herbs with researched efficacy against viruses: Lian Qiao, Da Qing Ye, Ban Lan Gen, Jin Yin Hua, Pu Gong Ying, Tu Fu Ling, Bai Tou Weng, Yu Xing Cao, and Bai Hua She She Cao.

Finally, coming to an understanding of viruses and bacteria, I was able to understand why I could be so effective in treating the seasonal flu. It also brought me a greater understanding of why the Chinese government required Chinese Medicine to be practiced alongside Western Medicine to ensure their patients the best outcomes.

I’ve been treating the flu for about a decade. A lot has happened in that time. From what I see in the clinic, the strains have been getting significantly more virulent. 2013 was the first time I saw what Chinese Medicine called a cold invasion. This year, the really tough influenza we have is a cold invasion, and China has indicated COVID-19 is a cold invasion.

To learn more about what has been happening with the flu over the last decade, check out my blog at best-acupuncture.com and query “flu” or check out my Youtube channel @bestacupuncturellc for flu videos.

Here are some links to the Chinese herb discussion

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24709192

U.S. experts say traditional Chinese medicine shows promise in treating COVID-19

TCM remedies cure and improve more COVID-19 patients with national promotion

https://www.wvtf.org/post/traditional-chinese-medicine-covid-19#stream/0

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Finally, some valid information on the Novel Coronavirus from Jama Research

The world has been waiting for reporting on the Novel Coronavirus with information that describes what we are facing. Jama has published a couple of reviews of patient records in Wuhan and Beijing. The Wuhan study covers what has been learned in 138 cases and has made the first pass at answering some questions. The link to the study and other information is at the bottom of the post.

The highlights are that the virus is virulent. Some people with the virus may be super-spreaders. Why a person may become a super-spreader is unknown.

Of those hospitalized in this study, around 30% ended up in ICU, and currently 4% mortality. Mortality is older persons who have other health issues such as diabetes and other chronic diseases that are common in first world countries.

Of those hospitalized, about 30% were able to leave the hospital as recovered. The others remain hospitalized. A long hospitalization time.

The time of infection to hospitalization is five days.

Although this research has a 75% male population, later research does not show a male preference. The research and information also indicate that the virus does not show an age preference.

There is still a lot to learn and a lot of outstanding questions. The source still eludes identification. How long the virus survives in the environment without a host needs to be determined. The mode of transmission needs to be understood. Does a person have to touch something and then touch their membranes? Right now, it is not clear. Will seasonal temperature changes put the virus in a dormant state like the flu virus? Is this virus going to be like a flu virus recurring each year, or is it going to be something that has an opportunity to be contained like SARs and Merv. Will those infected and who recover hold a higher immunity level to this virus and its mutations?

Here is the link to the Jama study on the 138 Wuhan cases.

Here is the link to my Youtube channel and another doctor who was reviewing information as it came out.

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If You Want to Change YOUR World, Make Your Bed

My niece was the first one who said this to me. I mentioned it to my husband, a former Navy Lt. Colonel, “Ah, that was the speech by US Navy Admiral William McRaven.”

How does he know these things? He just has this truckload of miscellaneous information in his head.

But he was right. It was Admiral McRaven’s 2014 commencement speech giving an arsenal of motivation and inspiration. It’s a beautiful speech, and I urge you, if you are reading this blog, to watch his speech on Youtube or grab his book on Amazon.

I want to talk about this one statement, and I am going to take a little artistic license changing the statement from, “If you want to change THE world” to “If you want to change YOUR world”.

Since I’ve heard this statement, I’ve thought about it a lot. You know, I realized that everything I needed to learn in order to succeed at any endeavor, I could learn by making my bed.

There are 4 lessons you need to learn in order to be able to succeed:

  1. Start off Small,
  2. Willingness to Show Up Every Day,
  3. Ownership,
  4. Persistence.

Start off small. Every change needs baby steps. When I first learned to ride a bike, I started off as a toddler with a pedal car that I could race around the house. I learned to pedal which taught me going forward took effort from me. I learned the hazards of steering and without guidance I run into things. I graduated to a tricycle which allowed me to take these two lessons and add balance. I learned that I could go faster, but at a price. I had to pay more attention because the crashes hurt more. With each step, I learned more lessons. Yet, the biggest lesson was the need to start small.

The second lesson is the willingness to show up every day. You don’t have to put in 8 hours every day. You just must show up. Maybe you put in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, a ½ hour. Tax season is here, and I need to get my taxes done for the tax accountant. Who likes doing that? No one….. But what I’ve committed to doing is showing up every day for ½ hour to review the final entries on my profit and loss statement. And I made this commitment to myself! Whoa, I didn’t commit to my husband, the tax accountant, someone else? No. I committed to myself because I am important. My ability to keep my commitment to myself highlights how valuable I find myself.

Making your bed, the only person you are committing to is yourself. Here is your self-value meter. Showing up, you know you are valuable.

Ownership! Ownership comes in many varieties, but it all ends with “This is mine!” Making your bed is something you can own. There are no additional people involved in making your bed. It is all yours.

Ownership is also the sense of pride you take in your efforts. Maybe you start out irritated that you made this stupid commitment to make your bed. So, you just pull the sheets up and walk away. Before you go to sleep at night, evaluate your effort. You can tell a lot about the internal chatter of your mind by the effort you put in yourself. Does your bed say the whole process was a bother? Do you think you are a bother? Did you not make your bed? What does that say?

Ownership, the process of learning that you have value, your efforts are meaningful, and learning to value your own judgement instead of others.

Lastly, persistence. Things don’t always go as planned. Somedays are more complicated. But every day you can learn something. Let’s say you have an early appointment and forget to set your alarm clock. You wake-up late and decide you can’t make your bed and make your appointment. So, you pass on making your bed.

If you were to sit down and evaluate this at the end of the day, what would your assessment be? I’m going to throw out some options so you don’t get wrapped up in the 3 internal deaths: judgement, criticizing or blame.

First off, you learned that in order to keep this commitment to yourself, you must take ownership in other parts of your life. Your span of ownership must grow. That means, you must take ownership on setting your alarm to get up the next morning. Not your mom or someone else.

Second, life happens. It’s not going to be perfect all the time. What happens when you’ve increased the span of ownership for your actions and things still didn’t work out. Here is where you start to learn self-compassion. Maybe you can make your bed when you get home. Maybe you can make it up to yourself and straighten out your bathroom.

Persistence gives you the ability to find options.

O.k. so there you have it! Thank-you so much Admiral McRaven, what an amazing person you are. Good-luck and I must go get my sheets out of the dryer!

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