Q. I have read about side effects of simvastatin and told my doctor about the muscle and joint pain I’ve been experiencing on this cholesterol-lowering drug. I even pointed out that this is listed in the info that comes with the prescription and asked if it could be from the pills.
He sent me for X-rays. The word that came back was my pain is due to old age. I’m 65 and I don’t think that qualifies.
I’ve been on statins since I was 45 years old. I stopped taking them on my own once, but the next blood test showed my cholesterol was higher.
I would dearly love to get off this darn medication. I am hoping that would help me feel better. Is there anything natural that I can eat instead to keep my cholesterol where it should be?
A. Muscle pain and weakness are recognized as common side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs such as atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin and simvastatin (European Journal of Internal Medicine, June, 2012). Although joint pain is listed in the official prescribing information for such drugs, it is less well recognized as a statin side effect (British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Oct. 2008).
There are many non-drug approaches to reducing cholesterol. Several readers report that including avocados or nuts in their weekly diets helps.
A vegetarian “portfolio diet” lowers cholesterol about as well as a statin (Journal of the American Medical Association, Jul. 23, 2003). This diet combines vegetables high in soluble fiber such as okra and eggplant with soy protein, almonds and plant sterols in cholesterol-lowering margarine.
A number of other diets can also be useful. We offer practical advice on the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet and a healthy low-carb diet along with recipes in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies (available in libraries, bookstores and online).