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Cholesterol


Question Details

 I either have an missing gene or the gene that carries cholesterol problems and was wondering what natural way I could reduce it because my medication give me horrible side effects. Thank you!



 

Some people do have genetic variations that lead to very elevated levels of cholesterol.  Unfortunately this can create some problems when trying to ensure that a persons most valuable asset, their heart, is well protected. 

First, it is very important to look at your family history and find any other relatives that have the same genetic predisposition and assess their cardiovascular health.  If other people in your family with this same issue have suffered from heart attacks or heart disease your situation is very serious.  If other members of the family who have it are not suffering from heart disease your likelihood of having a problem might be somewhat less.  Make sure to take into account factors like smoking, drinking, low activity, diabetes and obesity. 

Often time people have trouble tolerating cholesterol lowering medications.  The most commonly used ones are called Statins.  They work by inhibiting the enzyme in the liver that makes cholesterol.  It works very well because 80% of the cholesterol in our body is made by our body.  Only 20% comes from dietary influences.  Some of the most common side effects associated with statin medications are muscle aches, muscle fatigue, body aches and generalized fatigue.  In some cases this can be related to a deficiency of Coenzyme Q10.  The same enzyme that makes cholesterol in the liver is also responsible for making CoQ10 so when we block this enzymes activity to reduce cholesterol we also end up reducing CoQ10 levels.  And because CoQ10 is one of the most important nutrients needed for your cells to have energy a deficiency can cause feelings of weakness, aches and cramps.  

In light of this, one of the first things you might try if you are taking a statin medication is to supplement with CoQ10.  You may find this helps reduce the side effects you are having.  100mg of CoQ10 per day is a good place to start for the average adult. 

If this does not work for you, there are other natural options for lowering cholesterol levels.  Some of the most popular are Niacin, Guggul-lipid, policosanol, soy bean extracts and Red Yeast Rice. 

Niacin works very well and is often prescribed by doctors.  The one drawback is that in order to work properly you must experience what is referred to as the niacin flush.  This is often described as a feeling similar to a hot flash.  It does not last long and is usually very well tolerated as long as the individual knows what to expect.  There are newer forms of niacin on the market that do not cause the flushing symptoms but their reliability for lowering cholesterol is not as good. 

I have had very positive results with Guggul lipid.  This extract is of a resinous nature and is thought to work partially by binding cholesterol in the gut and helping the body to excrete it.  Initially, policosanol had very good research regarding cholesterol, but in the past 2-3 years there have been some conflicting results.  I have found very mixed results in clinical practice.  I would advise using it in combination with other agents rather than a stand alone therapy particularly if you need to lower your cholesterol by more than 10 points.

Red Yeast Rice is a very interesting one and can be very reliable and effective for lowering cholesterol.  However, you must remember that it works in the same way that statin medications work so it is possible to experience the same side effects.  Generally, because it is natural and much less potent than its pharmaceutical counterpart it is better tolerated.  However, I do advise all people taking Red Yeast Rice to also take a CoQ10 supplement for the reasons mentioned above. 

There are many great natural options for lowering cholesterol.  Much of it depends on what your goals are and what supplements work best for you.  Everybody is different and often times results will vary from person to person with the same product.  I hope the information was helpful for you.

In Health,

Dr. Passero



Back to all Questions     View More by Dr. Kevin Passero

Lead Medical Director

As a certified and fully trained Naturopathic Doctor, Passero has trained and preceptored with some of the nation's leading doctors in the field of natural medicine, working under the guidance of MD’s, Chiropractors, Naturopaths and Acupuncturists. Furthermore, he is currently the Vice President of the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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