Statin drugs are liberally used to reduce cholesterol.
But are they safe? What are the side effects that we don’t recognize?
Are we really going to start using them in children?
First of all, let me say that most people don’t recognize various physical and mental symptoms as being drug reactions.
Unless a reaction takes place without a day or so of starting the drug, most people won’t even consider that the drug is the issue. AND, many are not warned of the side effects of the drugs they are taking.
Even more troubling is that many people don’t know the name of what they are taking, the dose or what it is for. Now add that to the fact that about 50% of all prescriptions are either not filled or not taken as ordered.
Back to statins.
Statins block the ability of the liver to make cholesterol. They are also anti-inflammatory.
But, when are they indicated, really?
If you have already had a heart attack, they may be beneficial in preventing another.
In familial hypercholesterolemia where cholesterol levels are very high in the very young.
Whether you choose to use statins (yes choose, you have a choice) or not, be aware of the potential side effects of their use over the long term. First of all, they deplete these nutrients: Zinc, CoEnzyme Q 10, Omega 3’s, and Selenium (Mytavin.com)
- Increased blood sugar. If you are already prediabetic then statins may be enough to tip you into diabetes. “Good evidence links statins to DM. (Diabetes). Statin Associated Side Effects. (2016).
- Muscle pain. “The ability to cause muscle injury appears to vary among the different statins and according to statin dose.” Up To Date. 2019. Other medications affect the possibility of muscle pain. Most people on statins are on other meds.
- Depression. The relationship between statins and depression: A review of the literature. (2013)
- ´Statins rapidly deplete CoQ10 but this can be reversed with supplements. CoQ10 helps generate energy in cells. This is very important for muscle cells such as the heart.
- Other common reactions to statins are (Taken from Epocrates.com)
- Upper respiratory infections
- joint pain
- Urinary tract infections
- upset stomach or stomach pain
- difficulty sleeping
- sore throat
- elevated CK (a marker of inflammation)
- Elevated liver enzymes (indication possible liver damage)
- Cognitive impairment
- enlarged breasts (even in men)
Alternative to statin use.
The first alternative should be lifestyle change. Prevention being the best but reversal if your cholesterol is already over 200 with an LDL of over 130 and an HDL under 60.
There are cholesterol-lowering supplements.
Pure Encapsulation’s Cholestepure Plus II is a combination of Berberine and Bergamot. that works very well with minimal to no side effects. It also helps with insulin sensitivity and may lower blood sugar. I say this from personal experience.
Spirulina; “Human evidence suggests that spirulina can improve lipid and glucose metabolism, while also reducing liver fat and protecting the heart.” Examine.com Allergies have been noted on occasion.
Red Yeast Rice: However “It appears that the FDA (American) has banned sales of any RYR product with ‘non-negligible’ levels of Monacolin K/Lovastatin due to the position of Lovastatin as a pharmaceutical drug; this significantly reduces the supposed benefits associated with red yeast extract. This means that they have banned the active cholesterol lowing ingredient in it as it was very similar to Lovastatin and of course there is more money to be made here. Examine.com.
I’m sure there are others but these are the ones I am most familiar with.
The Morale of the story
Ideally, we should live to prevent the need for any medications. While this may not always be possible and medicines do have a band-aid effect on symptoms that may be lifesaving, we shouldn’t depend on them. Use of medications leads to more use of medications, they do not solve the root cause. They cause side effects that require the use of more medications.
Aging is a blessing. If you continue to live you have no choice but to age. Frailty, on the other hand, is, for the most part, a choice.
Choose to live well. (I didn’t say it’s easy).
T Lohman DNP, FNP-BC, NBC-HWC
If you use a lot of supplements and would like a discount, sign up at https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/tlohman