CHOLESTEROL AND THE HEAVILY PRESCRIBED ‘STATIN’ MEDICATION. WHAT YOU MUST KNOW.

     In a few years from now we will look back on the treatment of cholesterol much differently.  Based on the amount of research that is piling up with regards to cholesterol and it’s management with Statin medicines i.e. Crestor and Lipitor drugs, we won’t be so quick to blindly prescribe these to people anymore based on personalized precision medicine. Based on our Genetics we can actually help determine who this may be beneficial for and who may not.   

     When I first started medical training other cholesterol medications were still dominating the market including ones like Zetia that helped prevent cholesterol from our diet being absorbed. This would lower amounts of circulating LDL (the bad cholesterol). Once Statin medications were introduced, however, they were heralded for lowering cholesterol significantly MORE and therefore pushed forward. Studies that followed showing that statins lower ALL forms of cholesterol including HDL (the good cholesterol) and is most effective in patients with advanced risk factors including Diabetes and heart disease. But that’s just it; People with these late stage conditions and who are inflamed are the ones who experienced benefit long term, not necessarily those who simply have elevated cholesterol. Lastly, it’s sugar and other inflammatory substances that cause cholesterol to be a health threat in the first place.

     Our brain is made up of 85% lipids and cholesterol and cholesterol is crucial for the production of hormones within the body. Statins, by way of action, inhibit an enzyme that stops our very own production of the cholesterol needed for these key hormones. Our hormones are necessary to survive longer, repair better, and keep us healthy while even slow aging.  What appeared missing to me was why more physicians weren’t paying attention to this? Studies in men in fact have shown a significant decrease in Testosterone production in those on Statin medications as well as appetite increases. Furthermore, in an analyses of lifespan, elderly with the lowest cholesterol levels actually tended to live longer compared to those who were very low. This makes sense knowing that our hormones play a crucial role in health protection, cognition, bone and muscle strength, and stimulation of our own endogenous stem cells for repair.

     Genetics is so important because we may unveil what your individual risks are and provide you a customized natural program to target and prevent them so you won’t end up needing such medication. Our genes can unlock your ideal lifestyle and what supplements may help prevent and reverse such things as obesity, heart disease, elevated blood sugar, gut health problems, cognition and even who can tolerate certain medications like Statins. Knowing your genetics can show us those at higher risk for their numerous side effects including muscle pains, increased appetite and even diabetes (which has recently been reported).

     Citrus Bergamot is a supplement gaining a lot of popularity recently. Along with reducing the bad cholesterol it raises the good cholesterol and even helps with blood sugar. It is an extract from a southern Italian plant extract known to reduce inflammation. This is a wonderful alternative to Statin and you can see your own labs improving as confirmation just as studies have proven. For patients that have been treated with statin medication for a long period of time and wish to wean off that are good candidates, we recommend to test before and after such treatment where in our practice we have a board certified Functional Cardiologist we consult with in more advanced cases.

Genetics is rapidly shaping the way we practice medicine. It has not yet made it’s way into conventional primary care and why we advise seeking out a Functional Medicine provider for the most up to date, leading edge practice. When it comes to health we are most serious about our approach to wellness as are our patients. 

Testosterone lowering by statin:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23448151/

Low cholesterol and higher mortality:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5908176/#sec004title

Targeting inflammation is how statins work, not cholesterol lowering:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3394171/#__sec1title

Bergamot helps reduce inflammation, bad cholesterol, and increases our good cholesterol with minimal side effects:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6497409/pdf/nihms-1023195.pdf

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