Eliminate Unnecessary Medications (Part 2): Statins
Ten-Point Tune-Up, Step 6
Welcome back to my "tune-up" series — an easy way to energize and optimize every system in your body, from your brain to your bones.
A few weeks ago I talked about the pad-happy prescription practices of American medicine — and the health-destroying downside of many commonly prescribed drugs. It's hard to tune-up if prescription drugs are dragging you down!
This week, I'd like to talk about the downside of the most prescribed class of drugs in America: cholesterol-lowering statins, which in many cases are far less effective for heart disease than owing a cat (and far more dangerous)! I'll also tell you about safe, effective, natural alternatives to statins.
We also have a study underway treating people with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Part of the study includes getting people off unneeded medications that may be contributing to, and even causing, their dementia (for more info, call 410-573-5389).
Statins: Propaganda Rx
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, so it's no surprise that the most prescribed class of drugs in America are statins, which lower cholesterol by blocking the action of an enzyme involved in its production. (There are 215 million yearly prescriptions for statins, putting more than $20 billion into the coffers of drug companies. The most popular are Lipitor and Crestor.)
But there's a big problem with statins: they aren't always safe. In the decades since they hit the market, side effects from statins have been commonly reported. These include muscle pain, fatigue, exercise intolerance (muscles too painful and weak to exercise), memory loss, peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness, or burning pain in the hands, arms, feet, or legs), irritability, sleep problems, and sexual dysfunction (like erectile dysfunction). Statins have also been linked to diabetes, kidney disease, and stroke.
Statins cause problems because the cholesterol it blocks also helps your body by producing many of your hormones. This can create a body-wide disaster, including the toxicity that results from the loss of coenzyme Q10, a biochemical sparkplug found in every cell of the body.
A final point to make is that the benefits of statins are exaggerated. Yes, they can lower cholesterol. But that's only really beneficial for people with a known history of heart disease, for whom they do help decrease heart attacks, strokes and death from cardiovascular disease (heart attack or angina). But for those without such a history, statins only help reduce death rates by about 2 percent. Owning a cat has been linked to a 30% reduction in heart disease — that's 15 times more effective than statins!
Alternatives to Statins
Below are some ways you can protect yourself against statins.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you develop a side effect from taking a statin, talk to your doctor immediately. The longer the side effect lasts, the longer it may take to go away. My advice: Ask to go off the medication for 3 months to see if the side effect abates, and consider natural cholesterol-lowering alternatives.
Lower the Dose
If you develop a side effect, talk to your doctor about lowering your dose. A study shows that people with one or more side effects from a statin are 45% less likely to experience the problem when put on a lower dose of the drug.
Watch Out If You're Taking More Than One Drug
Be cautious about taking a statin with another drug, such as a blood pressure medication or antifungal. Those drugs and many others are broken down by the same set of liver enzymes that break down statins. When you take two drugs at the same time, less of the statin is broken down — in effect, you're taking a higher dose of the statin, with a greater risk of side effects.
Consider Switching to Red Yeast Rice
Sylvan makes a good one. Red Rice Yeast has been shown to strongly help maintain a healthy cholesterol level and keep people heart healthy — and much less likely to cause muscle pain.
Another awesome herb to optimize healthy cholesterol levels? Berberine! Take 200-250 mg 3x day. Combine with the Red Rice Yeast for an excellent combo.
Take Coenzyme Q10
If you take a statin, I strongly urge you to take a coenzyme Q10 supplement, which can help protect you from side effects. Statins routinely drop people's coenzyme Q10 levels. I recommend 200 milligrams daily.
Consider a Non-Drug Approach
As an alternative to statins, consider a healthful diet, supplements, exercise and other powerful, non-drug cholesterol-lowering methods. If your physician isn't open to these types of natural alternatives, consider seeing a doctor who is board certified in holistic medicine. A few tips:
- The three best cholesterol-lowering foods: Oatmeal, fresh garlic, and tree nuts like almonds and walnuts. Have a little oatmeal in the morning with walnuts on top. Yum!
- The best overall diet for your heart: Hands down, the Mediterranean diet, emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, olive oil, red wine, and fish. Go easy on the red meat and dairy products.
- The worst food for your heart: Sugar! Even the conservative American Heart Association says that a high intake increases your risk for heart disease. Cut out the sugar and refined carbs.
- The best supplement for a healthy heart: I already told you about coenzyme Q10. Consider adding ribose, which turbocharges your heart cells (1 scoop a day is all it takes). Also consider the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder, which delivers a full array of heart protecting nutrients, like B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium and vitamin D.
- The best exercise for your heart: Whatever you like to do — as long as you do it regularly. Walking, bicycling and swimming are excellent choices. So is dancing!
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.