The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Lowering cholesterol with phytosterols + omega-3

     Fish oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduce triglycerides and raise HDL- (good) cholesterol blood levels, while phytosterols reduce total cholesterol and LDL- (bad) cholesterol blood levels.

    But what are the combined effects on the lipid profile in people with high cholesterol levels?

    First, the details.

    • 60 people with high cholesterol levels were randomly assigned to one of the following treatments each day for 3 weeks.
      • Sunola oil capsules
      • Sunola oil capsules + 2 grams of phytosterols
      • Omega-3 capsules 1.4 grams
      • Omega-3 capsules + phytosterols
    • Sunola is a monounsaturated sunflower oil made by Crisco and used to fry foods
    • Neither the researchers nor volunteers knew the treatment given — double-blind.

    And, the results.

    • Omega-3 + phytosterols reduced total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol (13% for both) significantly more than omega-3 alone.
      • No effect with omega-3 was expected.
    • Omega-3 alone and omega-3 + phytosterols raised HDL-cholesterol levels (7% and 9% respectively) significantly more than phytosterols alone, which had no effect.
      • No effect with phytosterols was expected.
    • Omega-3 alone and omega-3 + phytosterols lowered triglyceride levels (22% and 26%, respectively) significantly more than phytosterols alone, which had no effect.
      • No effect with phytosterols was expected.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “The combined supplementation with phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids has both synergistic and complementary lipid-lowering effects in hyperlipidemic men and women.”

    Phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids treat different lipids in the blood. The authors don’t clearly state in the abstract that the differences of 7% vs 9% and 22% vs 26% were significant and represent a “synergistic effect.”

    Phytosterols occur naturally in peanuts, beans, olive oil, and peanut oil. A good review is here.

    9/23/08 21:13 JR

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