Statins or cholesterol lowering drugs are one of the most popular prescribed drugs in
the US. These cholesterol-busting drugs were introduced in the 1980s and with
many popular names simvastatin, atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, and rosuvastatin.
In fact, according to a Harvard Medical School publication, 50 percent of men age 65-74 and 39 percent of women age 75 or older take a statin.
Statins have some side effects including a mildly increased risk of diabetes and abnormalities in liver enzyme tests. Other side effects that are noticed by statin users include dizziness; headache; fatigue; muscle weakness; liver toxicity; depletion of essential nutrients like vitamins A and E and CoQ10; serious loss of memory and cognition; sleep problems; nerve damage; depression and increased risk of diabetes and breast cancer Additionally they have rare but severe adverse effects, particularly muscle damage, and some doctors believe they are over-prescribed
And while cholesterol levels have come down in that time, other dangerous side effects have increased. In fact, for most people, statins are simply not the best option, as their risks and side effects far outweigh any benefit.
Given these dangerous side effects, natural medicine has offered an alternative: plant sterols. Plant sterols are naturally occurring substances found in plants—including many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. And, if you believe the buzz, they also help to lower cholesterol.
How do Stanols work:
Plants sterols and stanols work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol. Because they have a similar molecular structure to cholesterol, when they travel through the digestive tract, they get in the way of “real” cholesterol and prevent it from getting absorbed into the bloodstream. So instead of potentially clogging the arteries, the cholesterol leaves the body as waste.1 Interestingly, plant sterols only have this effect on LDL cholesterol; HDL remains largely untouched, so it’s a win/win.
This supposition has also proven out in study after study. In fact, research has so strongly supported the effectiveness of plant sterols in the reduction of LDL cholesterol that the Food and Drug Administration has given them the status of “health claim”—meaning manufacturers of products that contain sterols can advertise their cholesterol-lowering properties on labels.
In one study, 72 participants received twice-daily servings of reduced-calorie orange juice that was either fortified with sterols (test group) or contained no sterols (control group).
After eight weeks, researchers noted that the sterol-fortified beverage group experienced significantly reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, compared with both the placebo group and baseline measurements. The sterol group also saw a significant reduction in C-reactive protein concentrations—a marker of inflammation associated with increased risk of heart disease.2
In another study, researchers followed 153 participants with mildly raised cholesterol for one year. Fifty-one people consumed margarine without plant sterols (the control group), while the remaining 102 consumed sterol-fortified margarine (either 1.8 or 2.6 g per day).
After one year, the mean reduction in cholesterol was 10.2 percent in the test group, compared to 0.1 percent in the control group. Even more amazing, the LDL cholesterol went down 14.1 percent in the test group, compared to 1.1 percent in the control group.3
Furthermore, research has found plant sterols can boost the effectiveness of statins, and in some cases, can be as effective as statins.
In a nine-week study of 26 patients on long-term statin therapy, subjects received either 1.8 grams of soy stanols (sterol) or placebo, in addition to their usual statin regimen. Researchers found that the test group had 9.1 percent lower LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol was reduced by 12.9 mg/dL. They concluded that the addition of plant sterols to statin therapy gave patients the “nudge” they needed to get their LDL within target range.4
In another study, 46 participants were randomly assigned to undergo one of three interventions for one month: a low-fat diet alone (the control group), the same low-fat diet plus lovastatin or a diet high in plant sterols, soy protein, viscous fibers and almonds.
Plant Stanols and Sterols Work Just as Well as Statin Drugs
The results showed that the control group, the statin group and the plant sterol group had mean reductions in LDL of eight percent, 30.9 percent and 28.6 percent, respectively. Respective reductions in C-reactive protein were 10 percent, 33.3 percent and 28.2 percent.
The researchers stated, “There were no significant differences in efficacy between the statin and dietary portfolio treatments.”5 This conclusion, of course, begs the question: Why take harmful statins when natural substances like sterols can have the same effect, but without the dangerous side effects?
Obviously using Statins puts money into big Pharma…for example, the best-selling statin is atorvastatin which in 2003 became the best-selling pharmaceutical in history, with Pfizer reporting sales of US$12.4 billion in 2008.[7
But what is good for the pocket book of big Pharma is not always the best for your body.
Shaklee Corporation make an excellent product that uses these plant substances to block cholesterol called Cholesterol Reduction Complex†. It is a proprietary formulation with clinically proven ingredients that help prevent the absorption of cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol.
- Made with a powerful blend of sterols and stanols, which are found naturally in plants, fruits, vegetables, and grains
- Delivers 2,000 mg of plant sterols and stanols daily
- Plant sterols and stanols have been clinically proven by more than 80 studies to lower LDL cholesterol
- Delivers daily 100% of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) recommendation for plant sterols and stanols*
- Gluten free
- Star-K Kosher certified
† Products providing 800 mg or more daily of plant sterols and stanols consumed with two different meals, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol Reduction Complex provides 1,000 mg of plant sterols and stanols per serving, and 2,000 mg daily when used as directed.
*To lower cholesterol, NIH recommends eating less saturated fat and cholesterol, exercising, losing weight, eating more soluble fiber, and consuming 2,000 mg of plant sterols and stanols daily
Here is a video to show how Shaklee Cholesterol Reduction Complex works
One health rule I always observe is use natural means to accomplish what you want…and only use pharmaceutical for emergencies.
To Your Health,