This article was originally written by Barrett Niehus
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Is there an alternative to statin drugs such as Lipitor and Pravachol? If yes, does it have any side effects? Physicians are facing these questions each day however, most have bought into the drug companies marketing, and have not done the research for themselves. The truth is that there a number of naturally-occurring compounds that will work as well as, or better than, these multi-million dollar drugs. These compounds are found naturally in our bodies, or are found in nature. They don’t cause the side effects commonly found with statins, and are much safer to use. These compounds have been clinically shown to improve cholesterol levels without the heart damaging side effects found with statin drugs.
So what are these compounds, and why hasn’t the doctor told me about them? Well, there are a couple of them. The first is Pantethine. Pantethine is a compound in your body that is created from vitamin B-5. Although your body produces it through enzyme metabolism, supplementation of Pantethine has been shown to significantly improve your cholesterol levels. As your body uses Pantethine, it slows down cholesterol production in your liver. It also increases the rate at which your metabolism uses fats. Because of this effect, Pantethine has been clinically demonstrated to increase your level of good cholesterol (HDL) while lower the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) in your body.
Where is the proof? Japan has actually been using Pantethine for over 30 years. There are a number of clinical trials that demonstrate its effectiveness on cholesterol levels, as well as improved liver function.
In addition to Pantethine, the mineral Niacin has been shown to greatly decrease the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood stream. Our Niacin intake is typically pretty low in western diets because of the number and type of processed foods that we eat. Subsequently, supplementation has been shown to significantly improve our cholesterol profile. In fact, the combination of Niacin and Pantethine can be more effective than statins in improving overall cholesterol levels.
The impact of this is significant, especially when you consider that side of effects of Pantethine and Niacin are non-existent when compared to the effects of statin drugs on you heart, liver, and short term memory. In fact, there are no documented short or long-term side effects with Pantethine,. The only side effect with Niacin is a short term hot flash that is harmless, and can be avoided by taking time-release Niacin or taking an aspirin fifteen minutes before taking the Niacin.
Why hasn’t the doctor told me about Pantethine? Well, the answer is, he may just not know about it. Unlike drugs companies that spend millions of dollars on advertising and have sales reps whose only job is to push their statin drug, Pantethine and Niacin are naturally occurring compounds. Because they are natural and common compounds, nobody can patent them. Because a drug companies cannot patent and therefore have exclusive right to sell the compounds, no significant investment in marketing or education for Pantethine and Niacin has been made. Subsequently, your doctor may just not know.
The final compound that has been demonstrated to have a dramatic effect on cholesterol levels is Policosanol. This compound is a waxy substance taken from sugar cane or beeswax. It has been demonstrated to significantly reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and to raise good (HDL) cholesterol levels in the blood stream. The specific mechanism that Policosanol uses to improve cholesterol levels is not as understood as that of Niacin and Pantethine. However, it is believed to both increase the elimination of LDL cholesterol in the blood stream and aid the liver in creating good (HDL) cholesterol in a manner similar to Pantethine.
What does all of this mean? Well, if you have high cholesterol, it means you have choices. Statin drugs are highly effective. However, side effects for statins range from muscle atrophy to loss of short term memory to significant heart damage. Because statin drugs block your body from producing an enzyme that makes an essential heart health vitamin as well as cholesterol, the potential for negative side effects can be significant. Alternatively, supplementation with Pantethine, Niacin, Policosanol, or all three simultaneously has been shown to have no damaging side effects and can be just as effective as statin drugs.