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  • Writer's pictureamyk73

Cholesterol Management and Statins: The Real Risk to Your Health

The fear of cholesterol has created some crazy concerning health trends that are in fact worsening the problems in our health and creating barriers to reaching health goals like losing weight and managing cholesterol naturally. Its become a vicious circle where our health simply cannot win.

For individuals who are taking statins and experiencing side effects, trying to avoid the need to take them all together, or seeking ways to mitigate potential risks associated with these medications, incorporating natural approaches and complementary therapies may offer some hope. There are many reasons individuals may hear they need to take a statin or that their cholesterol is elevating beyond the generally recommended range. This can be the result of lifestyle, diet, stress, age, and even genetics. Most commonly though, is the pursuit of the medical space to have everyone on statins at least by age 40. All of these factors are within your span of control indicating that we can change the course of needing statin medication.

Statins are a common medication prescribed when your cholesterol readings from a blood drawn lab show out of range. Your medical doctor will tell you that almost everyone experiences this as they age and it is perfectly normal to take a statin to control cholesterol. Doctors will recommend statins for anyone over the age of 40 and it is believed everyone should be on them eventually! That personally alarms me and shows just how far our health system is out of line with guidance on protecting and preserving our health.

What is Cholesterol and Can It be a Problem?

There are many benefits for cholesterol and it exists in the body for a reason. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D. It is necessary for numerous processes including essential mineral metabolism, bile salts production for fat digestion, and can help protect us against cancer through the immune system. Cholesterol is vital for proper neurological function and plays a role in the formation of memory and serotonin production.

It is believed cholesterol can act as an antioxidant which could explain why it naturally increases as we age. Antioxidants protect us from free radical damage that leads to diseases, specifically heart disease and cancer. The risk of diseases increase as we age and the body was beautifully designed to adapt for these changes naturally. So, it gives me pause as a holistic health practitioner to understand why we would want to lower cholesterol at a time in our lives we may actually need more of it to be well and protect our health. This is where considering a single number as the predictor of health needs when prescribing medication seems, well, misguided and shortsighted.

Cholesterol's role in our health is more than just blood flow too. It is also a precursor to hormones produced in the adrenal cortex including glucocorticoids that regulate blood sugar. Corticoids are cholesterol based adrenal hormones the body uses to respond to stress and they promote healing from inflammation that it triggers. Without that in place because it is controlled by statin lowering medications, this creates imbalances in the blood sugar levels causing them to raise and result in diabetic type symptoms. It can lead to problems with sugar levels and the onslaught of more medications to control those levels.

When it comes to the area of health where statins are concerned, it focuses singularly on the presence of cholesterol in the vessels. Not all inflammation is bad and this is where cholesterol may have a bad name for no reason. Cholesterol is like little band-aids produced by the liver that cover tears and shreds in the vessels. These tears are the result of strain put on the body usually through lifestyle patterns and habits that are not supporting optimal function. As this strain increases, cholesterol is produced to support the smooth flow of blood through the vessels in an attempt to keep things running well. Overtime, the overproduction of cholesterol is believed to result in strain on the cardiovascular system and more severe health concerns because it can cause blocks preventing good blood flow. This is where statin use is most focused in lowering the production of cholesterol to prevent blockages in the vessels. Again though, it seems there are larger factors at play here that may be influencing why the build up of cholesterol is present in the first place.

The medical approach unfortunately does not address the underlying cause for what is causing that to occur or create the plan for how to remove the need for statins long-term. It also bases use on a single number at a point in time rather than overall needs, health status and other influencing factors. Individuals who find themselves prescribed statins often see them as life-long prescriptions with little hope of getting off of them. It creates this false sense of fixing a problem that an individual doesn't need to make any changes in their life and can just take a pill to correct what is going wrong in their body.

The cynic in me says getting everyone on statins creates a solid passive revenue stream for the medical practitioners along with other medical and medication needs it creates in the future while preventing true health from thriving and being protected. -Amy Kramer, Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor

Holistic medicine is interested in what is causing the inflammatory response to spike and correct at that level to lessen the strain and need for cholesterol to applied. It really comes down to understanding what is causing inflammation in the body and supporting as naturally as possible, if there is a problem. Again, not all inflammation is bad so deciphering when it is in need of support and when it isn't, is key to understanding where cholesterol should be more aggressively supported. Each individual is different so the reason for the inflammation varies requiring different approaches to be necessary. This approach does not mean statins will not still be needed (maybe) but it gives us opportunity to work at how we reduce our dependency on them. It motivates us to create larger changes in our life that can prevent larger health concerns for us later in life as well.

As a traditional naturopath, I don't believe all high numbers indicate a problem to be immediately fixed, but rather could be the body trying to heal itself and we should let it run its course to see what happens. - Amy Kramer, Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor

In my work, I'm looking beyond the single cholesterol numbers at a point in time and to what is going on with the whole person.

  • Is the cholesterol level really a problem or is there something else driving it?

  • Does the person have habits that need alignment to better support the body as it ages?

  • What is the person's diet, lifestyle habits, work-life balance, mental health, emotional well-being and more look like right now? These questions explore deeper what the overall health of the individual is rather than zeroing in on one single number as the indicator of our health status and needs.

Why Taking a Statin is Concerning and Risky for Your Health

Statins change how the body produces, uses, and controls cholesterol naturally. Any time we take away the body's ability to work as designed we create unique situations where dependent systems can also experience changes and stop working as well too. Of course, there are situations where the body is not performing well as designed and medications are supposed to help with that but in reality we should be addressing why that is happening and supporting at the root cause naturally as possible.

The liver, blood sugar levels, neurological system and muscular systems are all effected when statins are used and the symptoms they produce over time grow in severity. Interestingly, individuals with diabetes will often also be prescribed a statin and vice versa. There is a direct link between cholesterol and blood glucose levels that long term use of statins can disrupt resulting in more medications being necessary to "control" normal levels. The same link can be found with blood pressure and cholesterol.

Statins and Menopause

Menopausal women may also experience problems while taking statins with increases in hot flashes, changes in digestive function, and sleep. The problems from statins during menopause are often dismissed medically because the menopause phase is not well understood for how it changes the dynamics within the woman's body. This is a much more detailed conversation that I will discuss in a future blog post but for now just knowing at a high level that statins complicate menopause is relevant for now.

Statins and CoQ10 Enzyme

One of the things that I see most troubling with statins is their interruption to CoQ10 levels in the body. Namely, they deplete and interfere with these levels causing strain on the cardiovascular system. Without CoQ10 the cell's mitochondria are prevented from producing energy, leading to muscle weakness, fatigue and pain. The heart is especially susceptible to this because it uses so much of our energy. Interruption to our ATP production and process can increase the risk of heart failure, muscular injury and increased mortality. What is concerning is that almost ALL heart patients are immediately put on a statin!

Please know that yes you can supplement for CoQ10, ubiquinol format is preferred, but if you are on a statin then you are basically cancelling out one another without really addressing the problem. Ubiquinol certainly helps but long term we need to be addressing the statin to really get a handle on our health.

Statins and Cognitive Decline

Another alarming trend is the association of statins with cognitive decline. Dementia related diagnosis are predicted to be at their largest in the year 2030 where 1 in 6 people will have some form of it. This aligns coincidently with the increase in statin prescriptions over the same time period in the last 20 year period. Over 15% of statin patients develop cognitive decline and side effects with memory loss.

Statins and Depression

There is a link between low cholesterol and depression including suicide and violence. This is particularly alarming given the high number of people who deal with anxiety and depressive concerns.

A study by Duke University found 121 women aged 18 to 27 had a 39% risk of depression from statin use compared to the 19% of women how had high cholesterol. One in 3 of these women in the study scored high on the scale for anxiety indicators. Despite these findings, there was encouragement of the women to not eat foods that raised cholesterol warning that food can cause heart disease! Likewise, in a similar study with men there was also an increased risk of violent and suicidal risks with lower medication induced cholesterol.

Considering that loneliness and depression are top health concerns of seniors and a vast majority of seniors are on statins this is a worrying result we should be looking at more closely.

Statins and Major Diseases like Cancer and Other Illnesses

If that isn't enough there is even links to statins and cancer specifically in the breast, skin, pancreas, and liver. That's because statins depress the immune system resulting in our body being less able to respond to threats that can cause these diseases. Personally, even if it is not a major disease like one of these it still puts risk to our immune system where illness can occur. Whenever the immune system is stressed it also slows other functions in the body including reproductive, digestive, respiratory and urinary. When that happens we create the perfect environment for other health problems of varying degrees from basic indigestion to IBS, and other chronic concerns. We also live in a time where there are more chemically created illnesses and this requires us to have a strong immune system to protect ourselves. That simply is not possible in this statin dynamic.

Managing Cholesterol More Naturally

With all of that being said, then where does that leave us in terms of managing cholesterol levels our medical doctors are telling us are too high?

First of all, I am not saying to stop taking your prescribed medication. Only your medical doctor and you can figure that out. What I am saying is you are responsible for your health and the decisions about it. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your medical practitioner and drive them solutions you need to manage the needs you have. That may or may not involve a prescription. Personally, anytime I'm given a prescription, the first question I require my medical practitioner to work with me on is a plan to get off of it, inclusive of timetable.

Now regardless of prescription involvement, there are natural medications like herbs, supplements, diet and lifestyle habits that do effectively support cholesterol levels. This is where it is up to you to design what that looks like, build consistency for following it and using it as a conversation for your overall health strategy. If you do take a statin, it is also necessary to inform your medical practitioner and while that may not be a pleasant conversation, it opens the door for you to discuss the path to reducing or eliminating the statin over time if you desire. Remember, you are always in control of your health decisions.

Supplementation options look like this when considering what support cholesterol levels in the body. These may also counteract the effects of statins to help the body recover and reduce the risks realized from that medication.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Supplementation

Statins can lower levels of CoQ10 in the body, (see above section of this blog for details) which may contribute to muscle pain and weakness, a common side effect of statin use. Supplementing with CoQ10 may help replenish depleted levels and alleviate muscle symptoms. CoQ10 also has antioxidant properties and supports heart health.

I recommend the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10 because it skips the step where your body has to first convert the CoQ10 to Ubiquinol for use. If you are already deficient due to statin use or other problems then this becomes even more important to consider this form of the enzyme.

My husband and I both use this specific Ubiquinol daily. (Use code AK3571 if a first time visitor)

Vitamin D Supplementation

Some studies suggest that statin use may be associated with decreased levels of vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to muscle pain and weakness, among other health concerns. Supplementing with vitamin D under the guidance of a healthcare provider may help maintain optimal levels and support overall health.

Most often a Vitamin D deficiency is the result of other factors including immune system response, nervous system overactivity, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms. It is a vitamin I find clients often need to add because we burn through it so much with high stress lifestyles.

I personally use this chocolate Vitamin D supplement that makes it a fun way to get a little sweet treat and my needed supplementation each day. (Use code AK3571 if you are a first time visitor)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation associated with statin use. Including omega-3-rich foods in your diet or taking fish oil supplements may help alleviate muscle symptoms and support heart health.

I always recommend clients try to get their nutrients through diet first and then supplement where they need more. My motto is a supplement is supplemental. Most adults do need additional Omega-3 supplementation because the dietary need is not being met regularly. This is the result of degradation of the food system and how Americans eat. If you are one of these individuals who needs more than what you get from your diet, this is what I recommend. (Use code AK3571 as a first time visitor)

Magnesium Supplementation

Statins can deplete magnesium levels in the body, which may contribute to muscle cramps and weakness. Supplementing with magnesium may help counteract these effects and support muscle function. Magnesium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

An interesting thing about magnesium is we can burn through it faster when we are under high levels or chronic stress. I recommend clients again strive to get it through diet but if they supplement to use a high quality product and take it before bed. Magnesium is a relaxer and helpful to the nervous system in recovery from stress.

There are many types of magnesium and understanding the one that is right for you is key when supplementing. I recommend a Vitamin Check with a Holistic Health Practitioner to identify which one may be right for you.


Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation and muscle pain associated with statin use. Adding turmeric to your diet or taking curcumin supplements may provide some relief.

When supplementing with turmeric I advise including black pepper to activate the curcumin element within the turmeric. You will still get some benefit without black pepper but it really won't be sufficient and is usually a waste of money without it. There are options that include both turmeric and black pepper in one supplement. (Use code AK3571 for first time visits)

Managing Cholesterol Naturally beyond Prescription and Supplementation

The following advice is what I tell clients regardless of if they take a prescription and or supplement to manage their health. These are the foundations of our health that are absolutes in ensuring we mitigate risks to our health and have the quality last as long as possible. This is quite honestly where most of us have fallen in terms of finding ourselves with problems in health and facing medical practitioner instructions for prescriptions. Improving these areas and building consistency in them is our best defense.

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Habits

Adopting a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats can support overall health and may help alleviate side effects of statins. Stop following trendy diets and return to organic natural ways of eating by rebuilding your relationship with food. So many health problems can be mitigated with this one improvement!

No it is not always easy and we can encounter challenges but working with a Naturopathic Doctor like myself can help you along the way. Together we can help you reach those weight goals, establish healthy movement and work through stress boundaries.

Herbal Remedies

Certain herbs, such as ginger and Boswellia serrata, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate muscle pain and inflammation associated with statin use. Herbal remedies are meant to be taken until the symptoms of concerns go away. They are not meant to be life-long dependents in our health. Again, the goal is to help the body do what it was designed to do on its own.

Energy Medicine

Energy medicine can help relieve muscle pain and tension associated with statin use as well as reduce the effects of stress that are often accompanying it. These complementary therapies can promote relaxation, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation. However, it's essential to seek treatment from qualified practitioners experienced in working with individuals taking statins.

Work with Us

Dragonspit Apothecary offers in-person and virtual sessions to support your health needs. We specialize in helping you feel your best every day so your health can thrive. Book your session at


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