Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of coronary artery disease, heart attack, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease. Alternative/complimentary medicines, although are unacceptable by medical community, may be of great help in suppression, slowing of progression and regression of atherosclerosis. Numerous natural products are in use for therapy in spite of lack of evidence. This paper discusses the basic mechanism of atherosclerosis, risk factors for atherosclerosis, and prevention, slowing of progression and regression of atherosclerosis with flaxseed-derived secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG). SDG content of flaxseed varies from 6mg/g to 18 mg/g. Flaxseed is the richest source of SDG. SDG possesses antioxidant, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory and antiatherogenic activities. SDG content of some commonly used food has been described. SDG in very low dose (15 mg/ kg) suppressed the development of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis by 73 % and this effect was associated with reduction in serum total cholesterol, LDL-C, and oxidative stress, and an increase in the levels HDL-C. A summary of the effects of flaxseed and its components on hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis has been provided. Reduction in hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis by flaxseed, CDC-flaxseed, flaxseed oil, flax lignan complex and SDG are 46 %, 69 %, 0 %, 34 % and 73 % respectively in dietary cholesterol -induced rabbit model of atherosclerosis. SDG slows the progression of atherosclerosis in animal model. Long-term use of SDG regresses hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. It is interesting that regular diet following high cholesterol diet accelerates in this animal model of atherosclerosis. In conclusion SDG suppresses, slow the progression and regresses the atherosclerosis. It could serve as an alternative medicine for the prevention, slowing of progression and regression of atherosclerosis and hence for the treatment of coronary artery disease, stroke and peripheral arterial vascular diseases.
Keywords: Flaxseed, secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, suppression of atherosclerosis, slowing of progression of atherosclerosis, regression of atherosclerosis, oxidative stress, lipids.
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