Statins are a type of medication used to help lower the level of a certain type of cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. Lowering this “bad” cholesterol may help prevent serious heart-related complications. Some types of prescription statins can cause unpleasant side effects, including aching muscles and stomach discomfort. Natural statins are substances found in foods and herbs that may perform the same basic function, but advocates suggest that they can do so as effectively without as many side effects. It is extremely important for patients on statins to check with their doctor before trying alternative or complementary therapy, as natural statins may interfere with other medications.
Garlic is one of the most common herbal natural statins with potential benefits backed by significant research. Several studies indicate that garlic may be effective at lowering the LDL cholesterol levels while increasing the level of high density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. While garlic is generally safe for most patients, it does have blood-thinning properties, which means it should not be used in excess by patients taking medications to prevent clots.
Turmeric root, also known as curcumin, is another type of herbal natural statin that may help keep cholesterol levels under control. The herb is used in alternative medicine to help maintain liver health. This vital organ plays a significant role in maintaining an appropriate balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol, and turmeric root may assist in that role. Turmeric root can cause digestive discomfort when taken in large doses.
The majority of natural statins can be found in dietary sources, making them safe options for most adults. Fiber, for example, is one of the best natural statins because it not only helps move excess cholesterol out of the body through the bowels, but helps maintain overall digestive health. Eating a diet rich in fiber may also help prevent over-indulgence in less healthy foods because it is more filling, leaving less room for desserts and other high-cholesterol options.
Vitamin C may also play a role in preventing high levels of LDL cholesterol by interrupting the body’s ability to produce too much of the substance. Most doctors and nutritionists recommend getting the required daily amount through natural sources, such as vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits. Patients who are unable to consume enough through their diets may want to speak to their physicians about taking supplements.
While natural statins can be a safe and beneficial way to prevent problems with high cholesterol from occurring in the first place, once an issue has been discovered it is important for patients to follow their doctor’s instructions carefully. If a physician feels that cholesterol levels have become high enough to cause a significant threat to overall heart health, prescription statins may be required to prevent serious complications. Patients should always consult with their doctors before trying alternative or complementary therapies.