Blog

Preventing The Number One Killer In America

By Dr. Greg Fors, DC, DIBCN

As you may know, the number one killer today is Atherosclerosis. It is the underlying cause in most cases of Heart Attack, Stroke and Vascular Dementia. Shockingly it is found in 80 to 90% of Americans over the age of 30. Research now shows that atherosclerotic plaque of up to 30 to 40% is now found in nearly nine out of 10 of us over the age of 30. Cardiovascular disease is now the leading cause of death in people over 45. This probably means you and most of your patients. But there are natural means to reduce your risk, and this forms the basis for BioSpec's new Signature Series formula, Arterial-Ease.*

Here’s how it works:
Unstable plaque that ruptures is the primary cause of nearly all heart attacks today. Stable plaque causes no problems until it grows to over 95%, leading to decreased blood flow and angina. Research has established that coronary arteries that are only 30 to 40% occluded are more likely to contribute to heart attack than arteries that are 90 to 95% clogged. Generally, when there is 90 to 95% plaque buildup in an artery, it's more likely to be stabilized by calcium deposits. Furthermore, a major artery that’s only 30% to 40% blocked typically won’t have developed collateral vessels around the blockage.


Atherosclerotic plaque has a lipid core covered by a fibrous cap mainly comprised of collagen, proteoglycans and smooth muscle cells. Over time the fibrous cap can thin making it more vulnerable to rupture. The fibrous cap is damaged by chronic inflammation that overcomes its maintenance and repair. Eventually this can lead to the plaque fissuring allowing the lipid core to leak out and encounter platelets causing a blood clot and catastrophic event. Therefore, arteries that are only 30 to 60% clogged (which 80 to 90% of Americans over 30 already have) can be fully occluded, within seconds to minutes by the ensuing formation of a blood clot. This process is called catastrophic progression, the mechanism by which most heart attacks and strokes occur.


However, if the plaque is stabilized by a hard, thick, fibrous cap on the plaque surface, they remain stable and pose little risk of rupturing.1 Therefore, the primary target of any therapy is the stabilization of plaque that exists in nearly 8 out of 10 of your patients. Today, through dietary and nutraceutical intervention this is possible.*


Recent research has now shown that specific botanicals can help to stabilize thin-capped fibroatheromas and reduce the potential for plaque rupture. One of the primary botanicals is an Asian aquatic plant, Centella asiatica commonly known as Gotu Kola. Its primary mechanism of action is the promotion of healthy collagen in the atheroma fibrous cap. In a pilot study, patients with known high-risk arterial plaque were supplemented with 60 mg of Gotu Kola Leaf Extract three times a day for 12 months. When the group was re-examined with ultrasound they found that the Gotu Kola Leaf Extract had significantly increased the hardness or density in the fibrous cap of the arterial plaque by an average of 30%.2 In other words, the arterial plaque had become more stable and less likely to rupture. Gotu Kola has been shown in other placebo-controlled studies to result in enhanced stability of arterial plaque.3 In this study they also found that Gotu Kola Leaf Extract prevented the atherosclerotic plaque from increasing in size while enhancing stability; the average plaque growth in the untreated group had increased in size by 23%.4


Another botanical that is shown to benefit atherosclerosis is Pine Bark Extract containing bioactive compounds called procyanidins and phenolic acids.5 Pine Bark Extract has been shown to slow the progression of atherosclerosis6 by lowering levels of inflammation through reduced signaling molecules including NF-kappaB.7 This is vital because chronic inflammation is a primary cause in the development and progression of atherosclerosis.


As amazing as these botanicals are individually, in clinical research they are even more fantastic when combined. Gotu Kola Leaf Extract combined with Pine Bark Extract has undergone clinical trials in over a 2,000 people with demonstrated atherosclerotic plaques. This combination of botanicals has demonstrated significant reduction in plaque progression but more importantly has improved plaque stability and reduction in new cardiovascular symptoms.


A recent 2015 study on 824 subjects with advanced atherosclerosis showed phenomenal results with the combination of Gotu Kola Leaf Extract and Pine Bark Extract. These individuals each had at least one proven carotid or femoral artery plaque that extended more than 50% into the arterial wall but were asymptomatic at the beginning of the study. The subjects were divided into five separate study groups with different treatments at different strengths. The group that did the best was the one receiving 100 mg of Pine Bark Extract along with 100 mg of Gotu Kola Leaf Extract. In the two groups receiving no Pine Bark Extract, the plaque lesions increased significantly. The three groups receiving 100 mg of Pine Bark Extract had no meaningful increase in plaque lesion size.8


The most exciting results were found in the group receiving the combination of Gotu Kola Leaf Extract and Pine Bark Extract each at 100 mg. In this arm of the study, they found a 7.4-fold reduction in the risk of symptoms of cardiovascular disease compared to controls and a nearly 4-fold reduction in the risk of being hospitalized for a cardiovascular event.9 In other words, they had greater stability in their atherosclerotic plaques. Remember this is the study on individuals with already established advanced atherosclerotic disease.


So, point being...9 out of 10 Americans over the age of 30 already have atherosclerosis and most of these are in the early 30 to 40% range of arterial blockage. Second, a 40% blockage can become 100% blockage in a matter of moments if it becomes unstable and ruptures. Please consult with your primary care physician to determine your risk of atherosclerosis, and whether or not nutritional intervention is the right approach for you.


ARTERIAL-EASE:
Each (1) capsule provides:

  • Pomegranate Extract (30% punicalagins) -- 385mg
  • Gotu Kola Leaf Extract (35% triterpenes) -- 125mg
  • Resveratrol (50% trans-resveratrol) -- 120mg
  • Pine Bark Extract (65% procyanidins) -- 75mg
  • Lycopene -- 15mg
  • Policosanol (from rice bran) -- 15mg

Recommended Dose: One capsule twice daily, with or without food or as directed by your Healthcare Professional.
Formula: 963 / 60 Capsules per Bottle


Dr. Greg Fors, D.C. is the Chief Science Consultant for BIOSPEC Nutritionals, a Board-certified Neurologist (IBCN), certified in Applied Herbal Sciences (NWHSU) and Acupuncture. As the clinic director of the Pain and Brain Healing Center in Blaine Minnesota he specializes in a natural Functional Medicine approach to fibromyalgia, fatigue, depression, autism and ADHD. He is a sought after international lecturer for various post graduate departments and state associations. Dr. Fors is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, “Why We Hurt” available through booksellers everywhere.

References:

  1. Cheruvu PK, Finn AV, Gardner C, et al. Frequency and distribution of thin-cap fibroatheroma and ruptured plaques in human coronary arteries: a pathologic study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007;50(10):940-9.
  2. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Nicolaides AN, et al. Increase in echogenicity of echolucent carotid plaques after treatment with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica: a prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Angiology. 2001;52 Suppl 2:S19-25.
  3. Incandela L, Belcaro G, Nicolaides AN, et al. Modification of the echogenicity of femoral plaques after treatment with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Angiology. 2001;52 Suppl 2:S69-73.
  4. Incandela L, Belcaro G, Nicolaides AN, et al. Modification of the echogenicity of femoral plaques after treatment with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Angiology. 2001;52 Suppl 2:S69-73.
  5. D’Andrea G. Pycnogenol: a blend of procyanidins with multifaceted therapeutic applications? Fitoterapia. 2010;81(7):724-36.
  6. Belcaro G, Dugall M, Hosoi M, et al. Pycnogenol® and Centella Asiatica for asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression. Int Angiol. 2014;33(1):20-6.
  7. Gu JQ, Ikuyama S, Wei P, et al. Pycnogenol, an extract from French maritime pine, suppresses Toll-like receptor 4-mediated expression of adipose differentiation-related protein in macrophages. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008;295(6):E1390-400.
  8. Belcaro G, Ippolito E, Dugall M, et al. Pycnogenol® and Centella asiatica in the management of asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression. Int Angiol. 2015;34(2):150-7.
  9. Belcaro G, Ippolito E, Dugall M, et al. Pycnogenol® and Centella asiatica in the management of asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression. Int Angiol. 2015;34(2):150-7.