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As the umbrella covering potential statin (cholesterol lowering drugs) consuming customers grows larger and larger, profits for the pharmaceutical giants continue to soar into the billions. These profits also naturally extend to the middle man, your neighborhood MD. With so many vested hands in the pot, one cannot help but question the expanding prescribing parameters in an attempt to determine whether or not the drug is absolutely necessary on an individual basis; especially with a drug that carries such an extensive list of potential systemic side effects:
This topic is extensive, and we’ve actually touched on different aspects in the past:
Today we will shed some light on the false interpretations of a flawed calculation based upon on an individual’s lipid panel (blood work consisting of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, etc.).
One of the main numbers utilized to determine the need for a statin is your LDL, more commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” Easy to grasp right? As a patient you receive an official print out that shows your HDL or good and your LDL or bad right there in black and white. Easy to read and comply to statin use in order to change the “bad” numbers.
First you must know that cholesterol is not all bad, but rather a necessity for proper brain function, hormone production, internal vitamin D genesis and more. It is also a form of LDL that delivers the cholesterol to the necessary destination to perform these vital functions. As far as achieving the objective of changing the numbers on a print out, statins are successful as they block the ability of the liver to make all cholesterol, thus lowering your numbers. SUCCESS!
Many different ways we can go here, but let’s stick to the basic interpretation of the test results that leads to the prescription in the first place. Most physicians rarely order the specific tests to actually measure LDL, but rather rely on an outdated and limited equation to calculate the number. This equation is based upon your total cholesterol, triglycerides (TGL) and HDL. It’s accuracy is also highly contingent upon other individually specific variables such as insulin resistance, diet (nothing to do with dietary cholesterol consumption), and other genetic variances. It also only works in successfully calculating an accurate LDL value if in fact your TGL and HDL numbers fall in a specific range to begin, otherwise the results of the equation have been shown to be off.
So if you don’t fit just right into the tiny box of necessary equation specifics, the calculated LDL results are inaccurate and more often then not, create the illusion of a qualifier for another statin customer. To add to the blurred lines, there are two types of LDL, with one being vital for optimal function, and one being potentially problematic, paving the way for the most common issue correlated with high cholesterol: atherosclerosis. This calculation does nothing to differentiate between the two.
To even to begin to attempt to obtain a more accurate picture of this critical LDL value, you have two options. In addition to the comprehensive lipid panel, the test must also include a measurement of apoproteinB, or the use of nuclear magnetic resonance testing (NMR), as both provide a more accurate picture of the LDL value that is relied so heavily upon to determine the need for a statin.
As stated, this topic runs deep. At this point we could easily steer the discussion towards just what causes the accumulation of very small or bad LDL (again, nothing to do with dietary cholesterol) and what can easily be done to reverse and prevent it. However, the information provided above serves as yet another piece of the puzzle that can be utilized to play a more active and intelligent role in your own health.
Just another quick note as to why this is so important: as noted earlier statins are being prescribed to more and more people, old and young and now being recommended by some to be consumed as a preventive measure, even if your numbers are “good.” Among other things, statin use has been correlated with an increased risk of diabetes as it essentially destroys a key part of your metabolic processing factory, the liver. Among other things, diabetes has been correlated with an increased risk of dementia, with Alzheimer’s even being dubbed “diabetes type III.” Keep in mind this is just one aspect of the deleterious effects of statin use and another glaring example of the need to become more educated and take an active role in your own fate.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other aspect of your health and would like to explore your options based upon a firm comprehension of human physiology and how to naturally alter that in your favor, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time, in any way.
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It is estimated that of the 238 million adults in the US, 116 million suffer from chronic pain. Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common allopathic approach to the management of these chronic pain patients. However, there are more complaints filed to regulatory agencies worldwide against NSAIDs than any other classification of drugs.
Due to pro-inflammatory lifestyles (diet and physical, chemical and emotional stressors), pain and other subsequent signs or symptoms of internal disfunction runs rampant. This leads to the perceived need for routine NSAID use (tylenol, aspirin, advil, ibuprofen, etc.) to get through the busy day. While the underlying cause of the inflammation should always be addressed, what we are talking about here is a short term, safer alternative to the NSAID.
The reason a smarter option should be exercised is due to the fact that like all drugs, over the counter or prescribed, these magic pills are not sans side effects. NSAID use and overuse is responsible for an alarming number of hospitalizations and even deaths each year. Common side effects include internal hemorrhaging, liver and kidney damage, digestive dysfunction including degradation of the stomach and intestinal wall (ulcers), and stroke; with the likelihood of occurrence increasing with usage.
So when you see these commercials with the delivery man or mother of three relying on her her alieve or advil to get through the day, best believe reliance on an even longer list of meds will follow to address the aforementioned issues.
To understand viable options, we need to understand the physiologic mechanism of action behind the NSAID. These drugs work by inhibiting a part of the inflammatory pathway that leads to the formation of something called a prostaglandin (PGE2) that would normally lead to stimulation of pain fibers. They do this by inhibiting an enzyme in the pathway called COX-2, and are thus noted as COX-2 inhibitors.
What most people don’t know is that there are actually other ways to block the formation of PGE2, and thus the pain. In addition to a laundry list of other systemic benefits, Omega3 (Fish Oil) supplementation also serves as a COX-2 inhibitor, and thus a potentially powerful, natural anti-inflammatory. (Provided this is a high quality Omega 3 supplement and at a therapeutic dose.)
Another fascinating option that works in a similar COX-2 inhibitory
manner is the application Low Laser Therapy or LLT. These are often classified as cold lasers (due to the lack of heat) and work by utilizing a specific wavelength and frequency of light to achieve a desired therapeutic purpose within the tissues. One of the effects of Low Level Laser Therapy is that it too blocks the COX-2 enzyme, and thus the formation of PGE2 and the sensation of pain, but without the side effects.
As previously stated, the long term objective should always be to identify and eliminate the cause of the problematic inflammation so the use of natural or chemical anti-inflammatories is minimized. However, due to the well documented hazards associated with these seemingly harmless and casually over consumed drugs, wiser options, that work in the exact same manner, should be exercised.
As with any adjustment to your healthcare regimen, always consult with you knowledgable and trusted healthcare coach before making any changes. Whether it’s the all natural temporary relief of pain, or a combination of short term relief to get you through while we work on a long term solution, we are here to collaborate with and coach you to a better quantity and quality of life.
We’re ready when you are.
As of the spring of 2014 one in four Americans over 45 were taking a cholesterol lowering drug known as a statin. Over 43 million Americans between the ages of 40-75, along with an increasing number of younger customers are now including a Lipitor or Crestor as part of their daily regimen.
As the lab values that serve as the criteria for prescribing a statin continue to change, the umbrella for those deemed in need of statin therapy continues to widen. Leaning on the outdated and now uneducated vilification of fats and cholesterol, the multibillion dollar statin industry continues to thrive. Sad thing is, cardiovascular disease and overall health have not improved despite the low fat, statin fueled culture we know find ourselves in.
So is this widening spread use of statins necessary? Is it safe? Here are some facts about statins and cholesterol that should at the very least provoke some individual concern and subsequent investigation.
In 2012 the FDA issued a statement declaring statin drugs can cause cognitive side effects such as memory lapses and confusion.
An AMA (American Medical Association) study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated a 48% increased risk of diabetes (a powerful risk factor for type III diabetes aka Alzheimer’s) among women taken statins.
It is well known that statins paralyze cells’ ability to make coenzyme Q10, a vitamin like substance found throughout the body, where it serves as an antioxidant and energy producer. Depletion of CoQ10 leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, mobility & balance problems, muscular pain & weakness. CoQ10 deficiency has also been linked to heart failure, hypertension & Parkinson’s. CoQ10 has actually been proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. At the absolute very least, individuals currently undergoing statin therapy should consult with their physician about adding CoQ10 to their regimen.
How about Vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D is derived from cholesterol in the skin. When statins lower cholesterol, the ability to generate Vitamin D is hampered leading to (amongst other things) a heightened risk for diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and ultimately dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Consider the fact that our sex hormones are also derived from cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol through use of statins and diet can lead to lower testosterone levels and subsequent decreased libido and ED (erectile dysfunction) which are common complaints amongst statin users.
LOWER levels of cholesterol have been linked to depression, dementia and even earlier death.
This type of information and suffering will hopefully continue to provoke reconsideration and remodeling of the current paradigm. As we learn more through research and prior failures, the appropriate response is to act on this newfound knowledge and improve. Unfortunately pride and profits appear to be standing in the way, so it is on us as individuals to educate and investigate when it comes to our health.
When it comes to evaluating cholesterol levels, they are usually included in a lipid panel. This entire process should be reevaluated as well, but there are ways to alter and more accurately measure your triglyceride and small LDL. Before resorting to a statin, why not attempt to uncover the reason for the unfavorable levels, and attempt to remedy it?
How about starting with rethinking the dietary approach?
No not the seemingly logical, oversimplified and outdated, disproven theory that dietary fats and cholesterol are the main culprits behind “bad” cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
You must once again look to carbohydrates and the subsequent release of insulin, which triggers fatty acid synthesis in the liver. This starts the chain that eventually leads to the rise of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol. It is no coincidence that diabetes (a disease which features erratic blood sugar and insulin levels) is associated with the lipid triad of low HDL or “good” cholesterol, and high triglycerides and small LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
(Calling HDL and LDL cholesterol is actually incorrect as the “L” actually stands for Lipoprotein, and the “HD” and “LD” stand for High or Low Density. These are carrier proteins that transport cholesterol throughout the body.)
The majority of type II diabetes can be reversed by reducing carb consumption, and the same holds true for naturally improving your lipid panel.
Another area to look at is thyroid function.
Patients with hypothyroid symptoms often display a lipid panel that includes high triglycerides and high LDL due to the body making fat much quicker than it can burn it. The slower metabolism seen with hypothyroidism leads to:
…a sluggish liver and gall bladder making fat less likely to be metabolized and cleared from the body.
…it causes cells to be less receptive to LDL circulating which sets the stage for the LDL to accumulate and be oxidized. This is actually when LDL becomes harmful, not merely its presence alone as it is actually necessary to deliver vital cholesterol to our body’s tissues.
…leaves an individual less able to burn fat as fuel as a healthy person would. This creates a reliance on glucose (carbs/sugar) for fuel and the subsequent insulin release, fat storage and higher triglycerides and small LDL.
Diet and hampered thyroid function are just two possible reasons for an unfavorable lipid profile, and in many cases can be improved with lifestyle changes and the application of functional medicine. Depending on the individual, cleaning up the menu, fortifying the digestive system, balancing the immune system, supporting the adrenal and thyroid glands and detoxification pathways can all be used to improve underlying function, which in turn creates a healthier human who can hopefully steer clear of statins and the accompanying baggage.
As always, consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. If you are interested in a unique, knowledgable approach based on the most current research, experience and understanding of the underlying function of the body and would like to learn more, call us today.
For one reason or another, millions of Americans partake in a daily dosing of one or more medications. While these medications are designed to target one specific symptom, they can leave a trail of systemic destruction.
Certain medications have the potential to deplete or block the absorption or formation of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are vital for our health. When levels of these much needed compounds become low, we can start to exhibit signs of one deficiency or another in the form of medicinal side effects.
The body truly is a complex interwoven matrix that needs to be looked at as one, and not compartmentalized. It is almost virtually impossible to alter one system without disposing others to the consequence, good or bad.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the use of various prescriptions. Know that if you are taking a drug, especially long term or in combination with others, you may be predisposing yourself to certain deficiencies and the subsequent manifestation of those deficiencies in the form of signs and symptoms. At that point, if the medication is truly needed for its benefits (and in many cases it is) it would be wise to supplement in the deficient areas rather than add another medication to quiet the symptom; potentially creating more imbalance.
You should always consult with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any prescription drug or supplemental regimen. The following is a list common drugs and the deficiencies they have the potential to create:
ANTACIDS (Pepcid, Zantac, Prilosec, Prevacid)
NUTRIENTS DEPLETED: B12 (all) Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Zinc (Pepcid and Zantac)
In actuality antacids have the capability to lead to widespread deficiency as the stomach acid it blocks is necessary in order to properly digest and absorb our food.
ANTIBIOTICS (Gentomycin, Neomycin, Streptomycin, Penicillins)
NUTRIENTS DEPLETED: B Vitamins, Vitamin K and Beneficial Intestinal Bacteria (In most cases it is smart to follow up any antibiotic regimen with one of probiotics)
STATINS (Cholesterol Lowering Agents) (Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravacol, Crestor)
NUTRIENT DEPLETED: CoQ10
NUTRIENTS DEPLETED: Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Iron, Potassium
(Advil, Aleve, Anaprox, Dolobid, Feldene, Lodine, Motrin, Naprosyn, Orudis, Relafen)
NUTRIENTS DEPLETED: Folic Acid
(Cortisone, Dexamethasone, Hydrocortisone, Methylprednisone, Prednisone)
NUTRIENTS DEPLETED: Vitamins C & D, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc
ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES (Norinyl, Ortho-Novem, Triphasil, etc.)
NUTRIENTS DEPLETED: Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12, C, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium
HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) (Evista, Prempro, Premarin, Estratab)
NUTRIENTS DEPLETED: Vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc
If an item does or doesn’t appear on this (or any other list for that matter) it doesn’t mean you will definitely be deficient and thus reap the symptomatic benefits of one medication or another. What this does mean is that you should read your labels and know the side effects. If taking a certain medication you should know what deficiencies are likely and what they look like symptomatically. It may not be a bad idea to pre-empt the symptoms by supplementing to begin with. Again, all these decisions should be made only after consulting with your healthcare provider.
The point is we live in an age of information and choices. Options exist that provide you with the ability to take more of your life into your own hands. Keep your eyes and ears open and go beyond accepting the first opinion to come your way.
Good luck out there.