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Lower Cholesterol Naturally – Alternatives to Statin Drugs
Huge topic. I may write a book about it, but not yet! Two more years of medical school and by then I’ll be even more adept at how to lower cholesterol naturally.
First: What is cholesterol?
According to Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, cholesterol is “the most abundant steroid in animal tissues, especially in bile and gallstones, and is present in foods, especially rich in animal fats, circulates in the plasma complexed with proteins of various densities, and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of the formation of atheroma in the arteries”.
What is the pathogenesis of atheroma? It is the initial stage of atherosclerosis which is the building of lipids [cholesterol] plaques within the structure of the arteries. These plaques narrow the vessel wall thus restricting blood flow. Restricting blood flow causes turbulence that causes further plaque deposition. Slowing the speed of blood through the arteries also helps build up more plaque.
Ways to lower cholesterol naturally:
- Excercise: dime. How many times do you have to hear it – everyone says it. Because it works better than any drug out there. Why does it work? Simple biochemistry and physiology. Exercise requires energy. Energy comes from sugars, fats and proteins. When sugars and proteins are burned, fats must be converted into usable forms of energy. The liver is strengthened by creating good cholesterol, HDL. HDL circulates and collects the bad cholesterol, LDL. This turns it into usable energy. So, with exercise, your energy requirements increase, thus lowering cholesterol naturally. Exercise 30 minutes a day as often as you can in a week. Try one day a week and build up. You will get addicted to it. Better than statins.
- Eat soluble fiber: Where can you find this? In beans and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables contain insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber actually binds to cholesterol removing it from your body. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stools making you more regular – which is also extremely vital.
- Limit fatty foods: blasphemy again. Even Stedman’s Medical Dictionary said that cholesterol is the most abundant steroid animal tissues. They didn’t say plant tissues. I’m not saying to avoid it completely. Just be careful – don’t endlessly chop roast beef sandwiches with mayo and four cheeses.
- Inositol: This is time-released niacin in a no-wash-out form. Niacin is a key factor in cellular metabolism. If one is low in niacin, then the energy reactions do not proceed. If they do not progress, lipids build up which are directly linked to high cholesterol levels. A study on time-release niacin shows its effectiveness. The study I found used time-release pharmaceutical niacin, but I believe the two are very similar – with the natural form being superior. The gist of the study: “Results show that niacin ER [extended release] produces a beneficial effect on lipoprotein subclasses, specifically reducing the more atherogenic small, dense LDL particles and boosting the cardioprotective large HDL particles.” Remember what I said about bad LDL and good HDL? Inositol sounds pretty good now, doesn’t it?
- Red Yeast Rice: This is what pharmaceutical companies make some statin drugs from – directly! So why not take it in its natural state? It works quite well. It works by limiting the cholesterol reaction from going further. This means that the production of cholesterol is slowed down, resulting in naturally lower cholesterol. I found a great research article on PubMed about Red Yeast Rice. The research was done by the Center for Human Nutrition and is not biased by a natural supplement company. Here’s another study on the cholesterol-lowering effects of a proprietary Chinese red rice yeast dietary supplement.
- Policosanol: This is sugar wax. Sound safe? Is. It does not disable the cholesterol formation reaction as strongly as statin drugs. Our body needs to make some cholesterol. Without it, many hormones would not be made and we would be dead. Therefore, it is better to limit production moderately than to limit it severely. Policosanol has also been shown to increase HDL levels. Do statin drugs do this? No. There is a good study on Policosanol that I found on PubMed. You will notice that this is not a study done by a natural supplement company or with a vested interest. The title of the study is: Comparison of efficacy and tolerability of policosanol with atorvastatin in elderly patients with type II hypercholesterolemia.
Bio-Lipotrol has been shown to naturally lower cholesterol [http://www.healthegoods.com/product/bio-lipotrol-biogenesis-biolipotrol/natural-health-supplements]. Bio Lipotrol has Red Yeast Extract, Inositol, Policosanol and Guggal Gum. I have seen doctors who have used Bio Lipotrol and the results are visible within a few weeks. Now that doesn’t mean you can sit on your couch eating hamburgers and pizza while popping Bio Lipotrol capsules. I’ve already stated that exercise is the best medicine – along with limiting animal fats and increasing soluble fiber. I didn’t know about Bio Lipotrol until a classmate kept buying it. One day I found her in the hall and asked her what it is. She told me it works very well on her grandmother’s high cholesterol levels. Then I got more interested. The benefits of medical school – you find what works and what doesn’t.
What are the risks of Statin drugs?
I don’t know all the dangers, but I do know one that is not often addressed. Statin drugs give the false impression that the person taking them does not need to be proactive in lowering cholesterol. If a drug lowers cholesterol without doing anything, why not eat fatty foods? I’ll tell you why. Statin drugs reduce the production of cholesterol. They do not limit cholesterol intake. You do.
Also – statin drugs severely limit the production of coenzyme Q10. This is an important source of energy for the human heart and electron transport chain. So if you are taking statin drugs, take CoQ10. I believe the statin drugs also limit the conversion of active vitamin D. I need to check that, but it makes sense if I follow the reactions from HMG-CoA, which is the limiting step in cholesterol synthesis.
If you want to lower cholesterol naturally, these steps will definitely help you. I recommend having a sit-down chat with your doctor. Most docs will listen and support you and know this field. If not, find a licensed and qualified naturopathic doctor who will listen to you.
This information does not tell you to stop taking statin drugs. It’s just information. Do not stop statin medications without consulting your doctor. Only then, under their instructions, stop the drugs if you apply other means.
If you’re not taking statin drugs and can’t afford to see a doctor, these steps may help you lower your cholesterol naturally. But since I’m not a doctor yet, I’m not prescribing any of this information for you. It’s up to you.
I hope you are still awake. This is a ton of information. I know I’ve been wiped. I need to get off this computer now.
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