A Natural Alternative to Statin Drugs
posted by DRveejay
A Natural Alternative to Statin Drugs
Heart disease has become one of the primary health concerns in this country, and the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs has become almost commonplace. Chances are you or someone you know is taking one. This article will discuss three studies that prove a simple sugar cane extract is more potent than Statin Drugs.
In May of 2001, the National Cholesterol Education program revised its "statin" drug recommendations. As a result, under the new guidelines the number of people in the United States "qualifying" for prescription drug treatment skyrocketed from 13 million to 36 million. These recommendations also bypass attempts to lower cholesterol by means of diet and exercise and instruct physicians to prescribe first and ask questions later.
While these new guidelines are certainly good for the patent medicine industry, they may not be in the best interest of the millions of people now "required" to take statin drugs. Statin drugs are often associated with side effects such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, sleep disturbances, liver problems, muscle weakness, and pain. One statin drug, Baycol, was recalled by the manufacturer in August 2002 after it was found to be linked to over 50 deaths.
In addition to these risks, statin drugs cost an average of over $100 a month. Since the revised guidelines mean big business for patent medicine companies, it's no wonder that news of the natural alternative to these drugs has remained unknown to the general public.
The Sweet Secret for Effectively Lowering Cholesterol Levels
Clinical trials show that one natural substance offers even better results than prescription drugs at lowering overall cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and protecting against blood clotting. This amazing substance, a fraction of sugar cane called policosanol, offers all of these benefits with virtually no side effects, at less than half the cost of prescription statin drugs. And it may actually eliminate your need for cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs.
By now you know that refined sugar is on the "no-no" list. In fact, refined sugar can actually cause a huge list of health problems, including premature tissue stiffening. There is no doubt that eliminating refined sugar is a crucial step in living a healthy lifestyle.
Not all Sweeteners are Created Equal
However, not all sugar is created equal. Certain specific natural sugars can help fight bacteria and infections. Whole sugar cane and other sugar cane fractions can also be good for you. For example, molasses, as the "whole juice" of sugar cane, is a somewhat healthful sweetener, containing useful amounts of iron, chromium, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and other nutrients that help our bodies metabolize sugar. But the powers of sugar cane go far beyond the nutrients in molasses.
Policosanol is technically not a sugar at all. It's a group of eight to nine "long chain alcohols" (solid, waxy compounds). It actually contains no sugar and has no extra calories so it doesn't have an adverse effect on blood sugar levels. Research is accumulating to show that policosanol is more effective than the most popular patent medicines for lowering total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. As added bonuses, policosanol helps to prevent strokes by inhibiting platelet aggregation and abnormal blood clotting and may lower blood pressure. And unlike the popular patent medications, policosanol has virtually no side effects, and does not seriously interfere with our bodies ability to produce co-enzyme Q10 as the patent statin medications do.
Unlike many other supplements whose claims are supported solely by traditional wisdom or laboratory tests, policosanol has demonstrated its abilities in human trials -- trials that compared its performance head to head with top-selling statin drugs. As you will read, policosanol rivaled and even outperformed the statins.
Policosanol vs Mevacor (lovastatin)
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 53 individuals with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol were asked to follow a lipid-lowering diet for six weeks.1 After that, the patients were divided into two groups. One group was given 10 milligrams of policosanol daily, while the other group was given 20 milligrams of Mevacor daily for 12 weeks. While both groups experienced lowered total cholesterol, the policosanol groups LDL cholesterol dropped 4% lower than the Mevacor group. Also, the policosanol groups HDL (good) levels rose nearly 8%, compared to a 3% drop in the Mevacor group. But the most exciting results occurred in the triglyceride levels. Policosanol caused an 18% drop in triglycerides. Mevacor offered only a 0.5% drop. (See figure 1)
Policosanol vs Zocor (simvastatin)
In another study, 53 individuals ages 60 to 77 with "primary hypercholesterolemia" (high cholesterol not linked to diabetes or other known metabolic problems) first followed a lipid-lowering diet for six weeks.2 After that, they were "randomized" to take either 10 milligrams of Zocor or 10 milligrams of policosanol daily for eight weeks. Again, both groups experienced overall lowered cholesterol levels. However, triglyceride levels in the policosanol group were 5% lower than those in the Zocor group. (See figure 2)
Policosanol vs Pravachol (pravastatin)
In this trial, 68 individuals ages 60 to 80 with "type 2 hypercholesterolemia" (a very common type) and "high coronary risk" were first asked to follow a low-fat diet for six weeks.3 After the six weeks, the participants were divided into two groups, one of which took 10 milligrams of policosanol daily, and the other took 10 milligrams of Pravachol daily, both for eight weeks. Policosanol offered better results in all areas, lowering LDL levels 4% more than Pravachol, lowering triglycerides 11% more, and raising (good) HDL levels 18% or 13% more than Pravachol. (See figure 3)
Policosanol: An Equal Opportunity Cardiovascular Aid
Medical research is frequently criticized for not paying enough attention to metabolic differences between men and women and for focusing much more on men than on women. One research team, however, concentrated exclusively on the female response to policosanol.4 This randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind study consisted of 244 post-menopausal women. All followed a cholesterol lowering diet for six weeks, and then divided into two groups. One group was given a placebo for 24 weeks. The other group was given 5 milligrams of policosanol daily for 12 weeks, followed by 10 milligrams daily for the next 12 weeks. The results were dramatic: Policosanol lowered LDL cholesterol by 25% and raised HDL cholesterol 29%. Total cholesterol levels fell nearly 17% in the policosanol group. In the placebo group, LDL, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels actually went up. (See figure 4)
It's quite apparent that policosanol can make a very significant improvement in serum cholesterol levels for women as well as for men.
Policosanol Lowers Blood Pressure -- Statin Drug Raises It
High blood pressure is another marker of cardiovascular disease and, as such, is subject to monitoring and -- too often -- prescription drug treatment. Fortunately, the benefits of policosanol extend to this arena as well.
In the Mevacor study mentioned above, policosanol lowered blood pressure by what the researchers termed "a mild but significant degree." Systolic blood pressure (the "upper" number) dropped by approximately 8 points, and diastolic blood pressure (the "lower" number) dropped by approximately 3 points. Both numbers actually went up with Mevacor, the systolic by 2 points and the diastolic by approximately 5 points.
In the Zocor study, the policosanol group showed statistically significant lowered blood pressure levels (an 8 point drop in systolic and a 4 point drop in diastolic). The Zocor group did not show statistically significant results.
A Protective Powerhouse
The studies summarized above are just a few of many that demonstrate the beneficial effects of policosanol. In head-to-head comparisons with various statin drugs, policosanol does a better job. And not only is policosanol at least as safe as placebo, it appears safer!
Policosanol does not require a prescription and is widely available in natural food stores, compounding pharmacies, and various on-line sources in 10 and 15 milligram capsules. Although other strengths are also available, a single 15 milligram capsule daily appears to be enough for most uses. Policosanol is also available through the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary (425) 264-0059.
An aspirin a day keeps heart attacks away?
Mainstream physicians, especially cardiologists, have made a big deal of the adage "an aspirin a day keeps heart attacks away." What they usually don't make a big deal of is the fact that continuous aspirin use can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding and accelerate progression toward osteoporosis.
Treatment with aspirin has become common because of its positive effects on platelet aggregation. If aggregation is excessive, clots form too easily and the risk of heart attack is higher. A more natural approach that avoids the potential side effects of aspirin is fish oil (1 to 2 tablespoonsful of cod liver oil daily), makes platelets more slippery and less likely to stick together. It now appears that policosanol shares fish oil's safe and effective anti-clotting attributes.
Policosanol vs Pravachol for blood clots
The study on policosanol vs. Pravachol referenced also examined policosanols effects on platelet aggregation, or clotting. The researchers used four natural substances to induce clotting in the study participants. They then measured policosanols effectiveness against each of these substances. Policosanol inhibited aggregation by 16.6%, 20.3%, 42.2%, and 69% respectively when exposed to the four substances. In considerable contrast, Pravachol actually made clotting worse in the first measure. Even Pravachols best results, measured in the last test, were still 20% lower than those offered by policosanol.
In another comparative trial using healthy volunteers, 20 milligrams of policosanol daily was found to be just as effective as 100 milligrams of aspirin (the daily dose most widely recommended by mainstream physicians).
There's no question that a combination of policosanol and cod liver oil is much preferable to aspirin, not only for platelet aggregation inhibition and cholesterol regulation but also for cardiovascular health and health in general. If you are already taking a prescription cholesterol medication, please consult your doctor before making any changes.
Policosanol: Good for both men and women
Medical research is frequently criticized for not paying enough attention to metabolic differences between men and women and for focusing much more on men. One research team, however, concentrated exclusively on the female response to policosanol.4 This randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind study consisted of 244 post-menopausal women. All followed a cholesterol lowering diet for six weeks, and then divided into two groups. One group was given a placebo for 24 weeks. The other group was given 5 milligrams of policosanol daily for 12 weeks, followed by 10 milligrams daily for the next 12 weeks. The results were dramatic: Policosanol lowered LDL cholesterol by 25% and raised HDL cholesterol 29%. Total cholesterol levels fell nearly 17% in the policosanol group. In the placebo group, LDL, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels actually went up.
It's quite apparent that policosanol can make a very significant improvement in serum cholesterol levels for women as well as for men and it seems to be head and shoulders above other cholesterol supplements.
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