May 2013

Naturopathic Medicine May Help Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Naturopathic care may help reduce the risk of heart disease among people who have a high risk, a study reports.

Heart disease affects the heart muscle or the blood vessels of the heart. There are many different types of heart disease, but the most common is coronary artery disease (CAD). This condition causes the arteries to narrow, and it may lead to stroke or heart attack. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 700,000 Americans die of heart disease each year.

Naturopathy is the practice of the use of natural substances to provide a healthier balance of internal chemistry. Naturopathic medicine is a natural and holistic approach to health and healing that recognizes the integrity of the whole person. Many treatment methods are used, including, nutrition, herbs, manipulation of the body, exercise, stress reduction, and acupuncture.

A team of scientists set out to determine whether naturopathic medicine, in addition to enhanced usual care, may affect heart disease risk. They conducted their trial in a group of 246 people between the ages of 25 and 65. The control group received enhanced usual care, while the other received enhanced usual care in addition to naturopathic treatment, which included health promotion counseling, nutritional medicine, or dietary supplementation. The researchers measured subjects' body weight, waist circumference, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar three times over the course of one year.

A total of 207 people completed the study. Compared to those in the control group, people who had received naturopathic care had a lower 10-year heart disease risk at 52 weeks. Additionally, naturopathic treatment appeared to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors including high blood pressure and high blood sugar that may indicate a higher likelihood for chronic disease).

According to the researchers, adding naturopathic care to enhanced usual care may help reduce heart disease risk in high-risk populations. However, further study is needed to better understand and confirm these findings.

There is strong scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of many other integrative therapies in heart disease prevention. These include herbs and supplements such as folate, garlic, niacin, fish oil, red yeast rice, and soy.

For more information about naturopathic medicine, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Seely D, Szczurko O, Cooley K, et al. Naturopathic medicine for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: a randomized clinical trial. CMAJ. 2013 May 13. [Epub ahead of print] 

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