Conventional Treatments for Lowering Cholesterol
Learn why the natural approach is safer and more effective than drugs
The most common conventional treatment for lowering cholesterol is one of the statin drugs: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor, (rosuvastatin calcium), and Lescol (fluvastatin).
Another option is a class of drugs called bile acid sequestrants, one of the most common being Questran (cholestryramine).
While these drugs are effective at lowering cholesterol, both may lead to side effects that are far more serious than the condition for which they’re prescribed.
Side Effects of Statin Drugs
Statins lower cholesterol levels in two ways. First, they block the action of an enzyme that produces cholesterol, and second, they make your body excrete more cholesterol in the stool.
The manufacturers of statin drugs list more than 130 possible side effects, including liver damage and muscle pain, tenderness, and weakness. What they don’t tell you, not surprisingly, is that statins also may accelerate cardiovascular disease by interrupting the body’s natural production of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
CoQ10 plays an important role in energy metabolism and helps vitamin E in preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. In a randomized double-blind trial, blood levels of CoQ10 were measured in 45 people whose high cholesterol was being treated with either lovastatin (20–80 mg a day) or pravastatin (10–40 mg a day). After 18 weeks, a significant decline in blood levels of CoQ10 was reported with both drugs.
If you are taking a statin drug, you should certainly supplement with CoQ10 to help maintain an adequate level of this nutrient. Take 30–100 mg a day.
Side Effects of Cholestyramine
Cholestyramine isn’t really any better than the statins. The primary function of cholestyramine is to absorb and excrete bile acids (cholesterol is a key component of bile acids). However, the drug also binds and inhibits the absorption of various fat-soluble vitamins like A, K, and D. Its side effects include:
- Other gastrointestinal problems
- Night blindness
- Prolonged or unusual bleeding and bruising
- Increase in triglycerides
This drug can also trigger severe reactions when taken with certain families of drugs such as blood thinners, thyroid hormones, and diabetes and heart medications.
Problems Caused by Too Low Cholesterol
As if these side effects weren’t bad enough, none of them account for the dangers now being attributed to cholesterol levels that are too low. Studies have shown that low cholesterol levels are directly linked to problems such as:
- Violent behavior and suicide
- Increased stroke risk
- Poor immune function
Drugs Do Not Address the Real Problem
The bottom line is that conventional medicine is approaching this problem from the wrong direction. Focusing only on cholesterol is side-stepping the real cause of cholesterol problems: improper diets and lifestyle. The pharmaceutical approach treats only the symptom, not the cause, and for that reason will never truly work.
The natural approach is a far safer and more effective way to reduce not only cholesterol, but also your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
More Dr. Williams Advice on Cholesterol
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For more than 25 years, Dr. David Williams has traveled the world researching alternative therapies for our most common health problems—therapies that are inexpensive and easy to use, and therapies that treat the root cause of a problem rather than just its symptoms. More About Dr. Williams
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