Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs were once viewed as "wonder drugs" and as major players in the fight to reduce cardiovascular disease. But as use of statins became widespread, serious side effects emerged. Side effects, coupled with the lingering question of whether or not statins actually lower the risk of heart attacks, have sent more people looking for natural, effective ways to reduce their cholesterol levels.
"Anything viewed as a magic pill isn't going to work," says nationally recognized anti-aging expert Dr. Erika Schwartz. "I think it's time for Americans to understand that and to stop becoming victims of thinking that this is a magic bullet.
"Statins are a perfect example of that," she says. "They lowered cholesterol levels, even though there was no data to connect the lowering of cholesterol with a lower of incidence of heart disease and heart attacks.SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.
"Actually, if you look at the trend from the American Heart Association, there are fewer heart attacks because people in American eat better and exercise. It's not because of the statins.
"Statins actually cause a lot of problems," Dr. Schwartz says. "In my own practice, I've had patients who've ended up in the hospital with muscle pains, liver problems — a lot of toxicity."
One of the biggest problems caused by statins is that they deplete the body of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which affects energy production at the cellular level, says Dr. Schwartz.
In addition, the results of studies showing the ability of statins to prevent heart attacks are mixed. The best course of action, says Dr. Schwartz, is to lower cholesterol levels naturally.
A couple of supplements can help. They are: Red yeast rice.
"Statins were developed from red yeast rice," says Dr. Schwartz. "The only difference is that red yeast rice is natural, and it doesn't have any side effects." Dr. Schwartz recommends 1,200 milligrams daily.Niacin or B3.
Niacin is a B vitamin. Dr. Schwartz recommends taking 100 milligrams three times a day, and increasing the dosage up to 1,000 mg three times a day. If your skin flushes, you have what is called a "niacin flush" and have surpassed your tolerance.
Of course, eating right and exercising are at the top of the list of "must do's" for lowering cholesterol levels. "Saturated fats are the biggest culprits," says Dr. Schwartz. And beware of high-protein diets.
"High protein diets are great, but high proteins with high fat don't work," she says. "Eliminate that bacon!
"Keep everything in balance, and don't look to a drug to keep things in balance for you," recommends Dr. Schwartz. SPECIAL:The Real Cause of Prostate Issues. See the Photo.