Dietary supplements are the mainstays of alternative
high cholesterol. The following table shows alternative medicine therapies aimed at lowering cholesterol.
What it is
Increased bowel movements
Red yeast rice supplements
Serious side effects including rhabdomyolysis and hepatitis
May lower LDL levels
Not FDA-approved or regulated
Sterol or stanol esters
Psyllium: Doctors are not entirely
sure how psyllium works to improve cholesterol levels. It is believed that
psyllium reduces the ability of the small intestine to absorb cholesterol, and
therefore the amount of cholesterol that enters your blood is reduced.
Red yeast rice supplements: The natural equivalent of lovastatin
in red yeast, called monacolin K (mevinolin), decreases cholesterol levels by
inhibiting cholesterol production in the body. Serious side effects can happen. These include rhabdomyolysis, hepatitis, and kidney problems. Despite the therapeutic effects of red yeast, there is
currently no way to guarantee its safety by ensuring a safe dose.
Talk with your
doctor before taking such supplements, because they could potentially cause
dangerous side effects. Do not take these supplements if you are taking statins. Dangerous side effects may result from the
Sterol esters: Sterol esters
LDL cholesterol levels by blocking receptors in the
small intestine that are responsible for absorbing dietary cholesterol. Sterol
and stanol esters are the active ingredient in cholesterol-lowering margarine
spreads, such as Take Control and Benecol.
Regardless of whether
you start a new alternative treatment, you must continue your diet, exercise,
and prescription medicines. As with any new form of treatment, you should
consult your doctor first.
September 11, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Carl Orringer, MD - Cardiology, Clinical Lipidology
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