Updated: Nov 13, 2020
I'll admit, while I am the rare acupuncturist who doesn't jump at the chance to demonize Western medicine, I get fired up on the topic of statin medications. My life was saved by modern pharmaceuticals years ago, but cholesterol-lowering medications are the biggest, cruelest hoax that has been played on people and physicians. It is not in my scope of practice nor would I ever tell a patient to stop taking any medication prescribed by his/her physician, but you need to be educated and you need to ask questions!
All medications have side effects. Even ibuprofen is now being shown to mess up your world by causing leaky gut if you take them often. But statins have serious, far-reaching, insidious side effects, such as muscle damage and onset of diabetes. Yes, DIABETES....you know, that disease that will lead to blindness, limb amputation, dialysis and death? That one. While dying of a sudden heart attack is a death, slowly dying and having your quality of life eroded by blood sugar problems is far worse.
Mental confusion and other neurological problems are also associated with statins. And then there's the possibility of liver damage. These are all pretty serious side effects, no? (please see Mayo Clinic link at the end to look up side effects)
"But Jen, aren't these things possibly worth it if statins will prevent my death?" you may ask. It's a great question. However, you need to know the REAL probability of a statin saving your life or preventing a heart attack. It will shock you.
****If you are not a middle-aged man who has already had a heart attack, then you are not likely to be helped. ****
Here's how the stats break down (courtesy of www.ChrisKresser.com, https://chriskresser.com/what-the-media-isnt-telling-you-about-statin-drug-trials/)
Out of 100 high-risk people taking a statin for five years, 98.2 will not benefit at all—but they will be exposed to significant side effects and complications, including muscle damage and diabetes.
The 1.8 people that do benefit will live an average of 6 months (and a maximum of one year) longer than those that didn’t take the statin.
These results only apply to the people at highest risk for a future heart attack: middle-aged men who’ve already had a heart attack (aka “secondary prevention”). There is no compelling evidence that statins extend lifespan at all in men without pre-existing heart disease, or women with or without heart disease.
"Woohoo! Horrible side effects and the slim chance to be that one middle-aged man who gets to live an extra six months.....sign me up!", said no one ever.
So, all these people are on statins having vague, seemingly unrelated symptoms. I see it in clinic. People just don't feel quite right. And as a practitioner, it confounds and clouds the picture a great deal. Is the patient truly fatigued and I need to explore all the possible causes or is this a side effect of a statin medication?
Your doctor isn't completely to blame. Imagine you're a doctor and you have a patient who has high cholesterol. There's conflicting evidence of whether or not high cholesterol actually causes heart attacks, but it's been the accepted rule for decades so better to err on the side of caution, right? You hear of medications that can lower cholesterol. Patients don't tend to want to follow lifestyle recommendations and because of the way insurance companies work you don't have time to discuss this and coach patients through taking better care of themselves. Still, your patient expects (thanks to advertising from pharmaceutical companies) a solution from you. The drugs are there and they do lower cholesterol so you prescribe them. After all, if you don't put a patient on these drugs and they have a heart attack or stroke, will you be in trouble with the medical board or sued because you didn't do everything possible to prevent it? The old-school, proven effective treatment was Niacin but it causes flushing, which can be uncomfortable or inconvenient, and slow-release non-flushing Niacin doesn't have the same effect.----Can you see why doctors are in such a tight space and why these awful drugs get prescribed?
Lowering cholesterol, preventing stroke and heart attacks, and improving circulation are all concerns but they are not necessarily best addressed by statins unless you happen to be a middle-aged man who's had a heart attack before.
If you are experiencing confusion, general aches or fatigue, sudden thirst, blood sugar fluctuation, or just general malaise since being on a statin, talk to your doctor about the real likelihood that these drugs are going to save your life. And if you look at the link above, you'll see it's not that likely. If you'd like to address your health and get true vitality, please consider Chinese medicine at Love Acupuncture in Metairie, Louisiana as a solution to your health problems.
What you don't know about statins: https://chriskresser.com/what-the-media-isnt-telling-you-about-statin-drug-trials/
Mayo Clinic link regarding statin meds: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/statin-side-effects/art-20046013