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Lowering Cholesterol Without Statin Drugs

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Q. My cholesterol is high but I cannot tolerate statin-type drugs. My doctor has prescribed Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor. They all make my muscles and joints hurt. Now he wants to prescribe Vytorin.

I am reluctant to try yet another cholesterol lowering drug, especially since I have heard bad things about this medicine. What else can I take to get my cholesterol under control?

A. Since you have already reacted badly to Zocor (simvastatin), it is unlikely that Vytorin will solve the problem. It contains both simvastatin and ezetimibe (Zetia). There is a controversy about whether Vytorin is associated with an increased risk of cancer (New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 25, 2008). An editorial in this journal concluded: “Physicians and patients are unfortunately left for now with uncertainty about the efficacy and safety of the drug.”

There are several other ways to lower cholesterol. Psyllium fiber has a modest lipid-lowering effect. Niacin may also be beneficial when taken under medical supervision. Other non-statin drugs include Colestid, Tricor, or WelChol. Fish oil can reduce both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol and Heart Health with more information about these medications so you can discuss them with your doctor.

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I went on simvastatin to slow the progress of my COPD and encountered muscle pain. When I investigated I found that statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting the liver enzyme HMG CoA, without which the liver can't produce its own cholesterol, causing it to scavenge cholesterol from the blood for its use. That same enzyme also inhibits the production of CoQ10 by the liver, which in turn compromises the production of adensosine triphosphate (ATP) essential to the function of muscles. When I started taking 100 mg CoQ10 daily the muscle problems dissipated and I went back to the pre-statin aches of my 70 year old body.

What about Red Yeast Rice for lowering Cholesterol?

And why would you even be considering these nasty, life-threatening drugs, when you can lower cholesterol easily, on your own: go veggie. My husband proved this, along with millions of others. Stop eating meat. And if you can do it for awhile to make a dramatic difference in cholesterol level, no eggs or cheese, either. It really is not hard - you can do it!

I really appreciated getting this info on cholesterol..
Is there someone out there that has a similar cure for both lowering my cholesterol and my blood pressure,without taking:
(CRESTOR, ATENELOL & COZAAR)..
My muscles are aching & I also have fibromilga with that....
I would need someone`s opinion,because my doctor insists that I need those drugs, and I disagree a 100%....
I think I could use something else( not rx drugs) like what was mentioned above and I`d be in less pain....
HELP PLEASE,I NEED MORE INFO...
THANKS IN ADVANCE...

I`M ALMOST DESPERATE ENOUGH TO DISCONTINUE TAKING THOSE DRUGS ALTOGETHER.....I THINK I WOULD FEEL MUCH BETTER...I JUST HATE TO HAVE ALL THOSE DRUGS IN ME..(the doctor has to watch my liver for side effects & I really do not need that at all)
Oh! What is the best Low Carb Diet some of you would suggest??? I REALLY NEED HELP!!!

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: PLEASE DO NOT DISCONTINUE YOUR MEDICATION WITHOUT MEDICAL SUPERVISION. IF YOUR DOCTOR KNOWS YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT EXERCISE, DIET, AND ALTERNATIVES FOR LOWERING CHOLESTEROL SUCH AS PSYLLIUM AND FISH OIL, S/HE SHOULD BE WILLING TO WORK WITH YOU ON LOWERING DOSES AND EVENTUALLY DISCONTINUING DRUGS AS YOU ACHIEVE SUCCESS.

Please discuss the safety and effectiveness of red yeast rice for lowering cholesterol. I have ceased taking the statins because of muscle pain.

I have been taking red yeast rice daily for years since Newsweek Magazine mentioned it and Smart-Balance for lowering cholesterol. Should I continue??? are there new studies out about this supplement??

My cholesterol has dropped from 202 to 157 when I started taking 2 tablets of red rice yeast and 2 tablets of garlique.

i have tried simvastatin and had horrid leg pains. my dr put me on lovastatin & i am now having the same leg pains after 1 yr on the med. i also have osteoarthritis in my right hip. however, i am having pain now in both legs & hips.

could this be the lovastatin?

thanks, cg

Flax seed is known to remove cholesterol from the vessels in people at a rate 3 times more effective than the pharmaceutical prescriptions.

I have been throwing a couple of tablespoons into our meals.It can be in a smoothie or a muffin or peanut brittle(throw it in with the peanuts). Works well in coleslaw , throw it in with the celery seed. My husband has a family history of heart disease, and he's a whiny baby at times. He is unaware of the flaxseed addition.

It is nutty and nice!! and a great fighter of plaque in out blood vessels!!

Flax seed oil does the same.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: MAKE SURE YOU GRIND THE FLAXSEED BEFORE ADDING IT TO YOUR FOOD. OTHERWISE IT IS INDIGESTIBLE.

Phytosterols and -stannols should never be omitted from this discussion! After a lifetime of hereditary high cholesterol, I started with Benecol and switched to a generic from Puritan's Pride. My LDL was reduced by a whopping 25%. I am wondering, though, about recent findings that these substances are being found on aortic valves and in atherosclerotic plaque. Clinical trials are underway to try to sort it out. http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00738933

I would not take Lipitor after a bad experience. I went on Lopid (non statin) but it didn't bring it down enough.I was at 233 Chol and 124 Trig in Oct., 2006. My HDL was 77. I then went to 168 LDL, 264 total Chol. and 160 Tri. HDL dropped to 55. I put myself on 1500 mg of Non-flush Niacin along with 3 fish oils daily and it dropped to total Chol. of 191, Trig. 59, HDL 65 and 104 LDL in Aug. of 2007. I dropped the Niacin down to 500 mg a day and total Chol went back to 213, and LDL went to 114. Tril. is at 50 and HDL is 77. So, I added back another 500 mg of Niacin, bringing me up to 1000 mg a day, and along with the 3 fish oils I expect it to be fabulous results next year when I am tested again. I still take the Lopid, but don't really know if that does anything or not.

Is there any thing new re: red yeast? I can't take prescription statins as they give me very bad leg and foot cramps.
Thanks for all your good thoughts.
Mary

Go see a Dietitian. There are many many diet and lifestyle related factors when it comes to cholesterol and high blood pressure. Many studies have shown great success by changing diet and introducing exercise. But find someone who knows what they are doing to help you.

Has anyone experienced insertional achilles tendonitis after taking lipitor? I took 20 mg for 4 years and when my doctor increased my dosage to 40 mg I got horrible heel pain. I stopped the lipitor and it is getting better. Thank you.

I WAS AT MY PHARMACY TWO WEEKS AGO AND WAS TOLD THAT "FISH OIL 1200 MGS WAS GOOD TO TAKE FOR MY LDL PROBLEM BUT I NEED TO KNOW WHAT FISH OIL IS FOR AND HOW TO TAKE IT ? I AM TAKING 2 CAPS IN THE MORNING WITH ALL OF MY OTHER MEDICINES SHOULD I TAKE MORE OR LESS ?

People's Pharmacy response: Fish oil shouldn't interfere with absorption of most other medicines. A daily dose from 1000 to 2000 mg should help lower cholesterol and, especially, triglycerides. The only significant interaction with prescription drugs seems to be with warfarin (Coumadin). Fish oil may make bleeding more likely if both drugs are taken.

Buy the book "The Cholesterol Hoax" by Dr. Sherry Rogers. It will be the best investment that you will ever make. She discusses many alternative approaches to lowering cholesterol in this order.
1. Niacin
Raises HDL 29%
Lowers LDL 21%
Lowers triglycerides
2. Red Yeast Rice
Raises HDL 16%
Lowers LDL, no mention how much
3. Polycosanol
tested to out perform statin drugs
Raises HDL
Lowers LDL
Lowers triglycerides 26%

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: UNFORTUNATELY, THE RESEARCH ON POLICOSANOL IS INCONSISTENT. THE BEST AND MOST RECENT RESEARCH DID NOT SHOW THAT IT WAS BETTER THAN PLACEBO.
OTHER NON-DRUG APPROACHES TO LOWERING CHOLESTEROL INCLUDE PSYLLIUM, PLANT STANOLS AND THE DIETARY PORTFOLIO, WHICH WAS AS GOOD AS MEVACOR.

Red Yeast Rice is a natural statin, and works through the liver. When I took it I had horrible muscle pain, especially in my legs and feet. I prefer plant sterols, they are safe and effective and work in your intestines. Also CoQ10, Garlicin, Fish Oil, Psyllium together work very well.

I've been on a low fat diet for 40 years and my cholesterol just kept going up. I did take Lipitor for a while, but I have fibromyalgia and did not want more muscle pain and I read so many bad reports about pharmacy cholesterol drugs. I quit taking Lipitor and the cholesterol immediately went up. I started using olive oil, taking flax seed oil capsules and fish oil capsules, and eating nuts. Other than that I still try to keep other fats low. My cholesterol has dropped below 200 for the first time since I started having it checked.

In 3 months I lowered my total cholesterol 86 points eating 1 g. fish oil and 3 g. psyllium seed husk daily along with very mild exercise and sensible (not restrictive) diet. My doctor was amazed and so was I. 50 points would have made me ecstatic. Also keeping db type 2 under control without medication.

Anyone concerned about the adverse effects of statins may want to Google "Ravnskov" or search that name in Wikipedia.org, and then have a serious discussion with your doctor about the findings. If you do your homework you'll also find that fish and flax seed oils are beneficial because they help correct the EFA imbalances caused by conventional diet.

See Golomb's study: "Severe irritability associated with statin cholesterol-lowering drugs" since it accurately describes the level of anger I feel on all statins but pravastatin, which simply causes me to have severe muscle pain and plantar fasciitis. All of the resins, niacin, and others have produced other strange effects like angina or severe GI troubles.  Zetia produced extreme levels of itchiness.

After being a vegetarian for 20 years, I switched and now eat lots of lean grass-fed meat, see: paleo diet.  Since giving up my life-long, low-fat vegetarian diet and switching to buffalo steak and eggs this year, my HDL levels doubled to 75, while my TC stayed at 313 and LDLs stayed at 225.   

For me as a familial hypercholesterolemia sufferer, it seems that I need to avoid sugar and grain consumption to lower my risk of CHD. My BMI is 21 and I maintain a daily aerobic routine.  My FH family history is my father died of MI at 66, his mother (Homozygous) had an MI at 39, then died at 69 of MI, her mother died of an MI at 54.  Everyone else (non-FH) lived to 90+.

I'd like to bring up a concern about niacin. I moved to a rural area and was lucky to find my new doctor practiced holistic methods. He placed me on flax seed oil, niacin and garlic pills, and it lowered my cholesterol. However, I have Grave's/Thyroid Disease. It was perfectly under control, but after I started taking the new pills, my thyroid count more than doubled. My thyroid pills were increased, and the count adjusted back to normal.

But 3 months later when I started feeling 'crazy' again (there is a noticeable difference in mind set when your thyroid is higher), I had my thyroid count tested, and it had jumped by over to 18, the normal acceptable is only 2! After talking to my pharmacist and researching online, a few studies have shown that niacin can increase thyroid functions! I went off the niacin, taking a month of lipitor samplers, and low and behold, my thyroid function is back to normal and i'm feeling fine again.

I have had terrible results with both Lipitor/Tricor for eight years, reaction of sever muscle pain was during 2008.

I'm now on 5mg Crestor, with the same muscle pains in the legs and arms. I'm desperate for a combination of non steroid ideas. I was put on CQ10 in November and it has helped, also 3 omega 3's a day, and four garlics. But still have the muscle pain.

Can flaxseed oil supplements effect cholesterol levels as well as fish oil supplements?

I've been dealing with this stuff for 30 years. 60 year old healthy male with 230 overall Cholesterol and ratios as high as 7-8. Every statin made my muscles and joints ache. If statins make your muscles hurt, I'd stop statins. Remember your heart is a muscle. If you have about $800 you can get a fast CT Scan which is probably not covered by insurance. This is a procedure where they look via X-ray at your heart arteries to see if build-up is occurring. There are people with very high cholesreol and never will have a heart problem and the vice-versa is true as well. Zetia is a non-statin but also made my muscles hurt. Now I am trying Welchol which is 6 large pills a day, but again not a statin. There really is NO easy answer to this question. I got the CT scan and since it looked pretty good, I do not obsess about this too much. Good look.

well I'm 48, and I just found out my cholesterol is at 300. I read all the stories and I'm glad I'm not alone with this pain. The meds I have been taking are doing more harm then good. I noticed after 3 months on meds that my muscles were killing me, I stopped that crap fast. I was always against meds because of what I hear. I'm going on this trip alone and this is what I'm going to do.1500 mg non flush niacin, 2000mg fish oil, 2 tab of red yeast rice, flax seed and garlic pills. No red meat, no fast food, no cheese, and I'm going to do p90X for 90 days and ill tell you a great story on how to beat this enemy that's on our tail. good luck to all, sincerely, Dixon.

not everyone's cholesterol is affected by diet modification. On a purely vegetarian diet mine is mid 300's - it depends on the amount of cholesterol your liver produces and the number of fat binding sites on your liver. if your husband was able to modify his cholesterol with diet alone he should count himself lucky - not everyone is thus genetically blessed.

If these statin drugs like Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor cause this muscle pain in so many people and could possibly be the cause of fibromyalgia, why is it allowed and prescribed by so many physicians? I tried all three listed above with the same result---really bad cramps and pain in my legs and feet. Are there any studies to support Red Yeast Rice as an alternative? I ask because there is an indication that although it is natural, that it also causes muscle pain and cramps in the legs and feet.

Fish oil and Vitamin D may be helpful. I started taking Vitamin D a month ago and am adding Fish Oil in a couple of days on the advice of my health coach. I may have to go with dietary changes like egg whites instead of whole eggs and dress it up with onions, mushrooms and spinach, and similar modifications to animal saturated fats.

What are the homeopathic alternatives for lowering LDL?

Hey Dixon M -- just curious to see how your results came out from using more natural methods to lower your cholesterol.

Please share

I recently was taken off Zocor due to bad reports on that level. I was put on Lopid and 80 mg. Pravastatin. Now I am experiencing muscle aches in back and rt. arm and Plantar's Fasciitis. Not sure if there is a connection yet.

after being on statins for a number of years and experiencing memory loss hair loss weight gain as well as muscle aches and pains,....can your body ever get back to normal once you stop taking them?

More than likely, when your cholesterol stays high and you're doing all the things your supposed to, your cholesterol just is GENETIC and there is nothing you can do about that, no matter what you do the numbers will be high.

Raquel, RN

How did it work for you? I am going crazy trying to figure out how to lower my LDL naturally. Doc said it may be the reason for my high blood pressure. The BP pills did a number on me with weigh gain, hair loss...so, were you successful in lowering your cholesterol???

Vytorin is a combination of Zetia and Zocor (Simvastatin) Zetia isn't supposed to impact your liver like a statin. I was taken off Simvistatin by my Indian clinic doctor as she said at the level I was taking, it caused problems so she put me on Pravastatin and added Lopid for triglycerides. I had taken Lopid before years ago and years ago I had Plantar's Fasciitis.

This time it was devastating and I looked it up, finding they are counter-indicated in combination. I had the sore muscles, joint pain, detached Plantars Fascia, general weakness loss of libido, and E.D, which I had just managed to overcome. I dropped the stuff in mid-September and have been going another route with vitamins and minerals from Dr. J.E. Block in Tulsa. He has a wealth of previous newspaper articles from his past life in Coffeyville KS.

As for chloresterol and triglycerides, sta tuned as I am due for blood work in a couple days. Currently monitoring my thyroid. Dr. Block says my underactive thyroid is the CAUSE of my high chloresterol and triglycerides. The Cherokees have just been treating the symptoms, NOT THE CAUSE. I insisted on a thyroid function test this time. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Fish Oil, exercise, and low carb eating plan has helped me to lower cholesterol 22 points and LDL 21 points from 9/2011 to 2/13/2012.

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