Do Not Take Another Statin Drug to Lower Your Cholesterol Until You Read This!

Collectively the revenues generated by statin cholesterol lowering drugs, like Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, and Pravachol are in excess of 10 billion dollars a year!

Is taking these drugs a risk unto itself? The answer is a resounding….YES!

Though these drugs are shown to reduce certain cardiovascular risks in people who have cardiovascular risk factors such as; hypertension, low HDL cholesterol, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, physicians are now recommending these drugs to people who don’t have any of these risks despite the fact that few if any studies show that there are any long-term benefits in people who have no cardiovascular risk factors.

The way statin drugs work is by blocking an enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) that interferes with the synthesis of cholesterol. The fact that cholesterol is an essential building block of cellular membranes and that the average person who lives to be 100 years old or more, usually has much higher than recommended levels of total cholesterol, raises some very interesting questions and will be addressed in a subsequent article.

So where does the risk come in? Well, in blocking the action of HMG-CoA reductase, the statin drugs also block the synthesis of a compound necessary for production of energy in the muscles (including the heart muscles) and for other crucial bodily functions!

The compound, Co-Enzyme Q10 is an essential nutrient that is involved in energy production that occurs in the mitochondria. (The energy producing factories in our cells). The heart requires high levels of Co-Q10.

Side effects of CoQ-10 deficiency

Statin drugs often cause muscle pain and weakness. This is a condition known as rhabdomyolysis. Often because many people taking statin drugs are older, they think the pain is due to something else like arthritis, or soreness from exercise and very often goes unreported.

Rhabdomyolysis, if severe, can result in death related to acute kidney failure. The statin drug, Baycol, caused dozens of deaths due to rhabdomyolysis and was taken off the market.

Though not present on the labels of statin drugs when they were first released, all statin drug labels now carry the following warning – “Unexplained muscle pain and weakness could be a sign of a rare but serious side effect and should be reported to your doctor right away.”

Not So Rare

Dr. Beatrice Golomb of San Diego, California, reported in her study findings, that contrary to the 2-3 % that the pharmaceutical industry reports for occurrence of muscle pain, that as many as 98% on some statin drugs experience this problem.

Memory Loss

Some patients taking statin drugs report memory loss and inability to concentrate. Accumulated data indicates that 50% of these cognitive issues occur within 5-60 days of starting statin treatment. Though most patients seem to recover after stopping the drug, it seems a small percentage may not. The actual percentage of statin users who experience these cognitive issues is not well established.

Nerve Pain and Dysfunction

It is estimated that 10-20% of people taking statin drugs will get neuropathy, resulting in feelings of fatigue, pain while walking and nerve tingling. A study from Denmark reported that long-term use of statin drugs (2 years or more) could increase the risk of developing neuropathy from 400-1400%. Individuals who are highly susceptible could experience neuropathy much sooner.

I urge my readers who are taking statin drugs to lower their cholesterol to supplement a minimum of 100 mg. per day of Co-Q. For those of you who are in major discomfort or have other heart issues regarding function or blood pressure, 300 mg. per day of Co-Q-10 is recommended.

Yours in health, and education,

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.N.S.  C.C.N.

Alice In Wonderland…Lewis Caroll’s Imagination or Mushrooms?

Johnny Depp is recreating Lewis Caroll’s, Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland. The incredible fantasy that Caroll creates of Alice’s mad romp through Wonderland has caused millions to suspect that Caroll had to have been on some sort of acid or other mind altering compounds to create such vivid, outlandish, thoughts and images.

The available data does not support this theory, but one does wonder when reading the story or watching previous visual presentations of the story, what symbolism, if any, those gigantic mushrooms/toadstools were meant to suggest? Oh, and let’s not forget the caterpillar smoking the bong!

There is no clear distinction between the use of the term mushroom vs. toadstool but over time, in some cultures, the word toadstool inferred that the mushroom was poisonous and of course, had the typical umbrella-like look.

Take a look at some of the fascinating mushroom photos below. They hardly look real and remind me of childhood images I recall from watching Alice.  

Amanita Muscaria 

The classic example of a toadstool is Amanita Muscaria. The various species of Amanita Muscaria mushrooms are very colorful and truly fascinating to look at. Amanita is not very well known for any particular health benefits but some shamans in Siberia did use it to go into a trance. It is also not particularly famous as an edible mushroom, and is only edible after it has been boiled in water thoroughly to remove small amounts of toxins.

 
Trametes Versicolor                         

Trametes Versicolor is also called TurkeyTail (because of the resemblance). Extracted from this mushroom is a long chain sugar known as Polysaccharide-K (PSK). PSK is approved for adjunctive (used with other medicines) cancer treatment in humans, in Japan, China and some places in Europe.

 

 

Psilocybe Mushrooms (aka Magic Mushrooms, Shrooms, Mushies)

Psilocybe mushrooms cause psychedelic and hallucinogenic experiences. These mushrooms are both non-toxic and non-addictive. A study done at Johns Hopkins University on normal middle aged, college educated, adults, with no history of drug abuse, reported that two thirds of the participants who took these mushrooms had a profound religious experience and ranked the experience among the top 5 in their life times. One third of the participants found the experience caused them to become anxious. Interestingly enough, in a similar experiment, the participants still felt the magnitude of the religious experience 14 months later.

Purported but not well substantiated health benefits include:

1. Treatment for cluster headaches
2. Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Reishi (Lingzhi)

Reishi has been medicinally used for many centuries in Asia. Studies show its benefits for: enhancing immune function, as an anti-fungal, an anti-bacterial, liver protectant, male urinary function and possible weight loss aid (though the back-up science is meager).

It may have anti-cancer effects against some kinds of tumors by inhibiting the formation of new blood supply and preventing migration of the tumor cells (metastasis). There is moderate evidence that Reishi may reduce cholesterol.


Maitake Mushrooms (Grifola Fondosa)

 Maitake is classified as an adaptogen, that can help the body adapt to stress and resist infection. Adaptogens have the ability to raise what is low and lower what is too high…..as in the case of blood pressure or blood sugar for example.

 Being a powerful immune-booster, maitake extracts can help prevent infection from both bacterial and viruses, as well as perhaps provide the body with support to fight some cancers when used with chemotherapy agents. These agents have been shown, in some studies, to be more effective when used in conjunction with the maitake. Furthermore, the side effects of the chemotherapy were reduced in many patients when maitake was added.
I hope you enjoyed this brief look at these amazing fungi.

Yours in health, and education,

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.N.S.  C.C.N.

Calcium and Osteoporosis – The Misunderstood Benefits and Risks of Calcium Supplementation

There are many interesting facts you may not know about calcium supplementation and osteoporosis.

FACTS:

  • Calcium supplementation is big business
  • 50% of all women over age 65 and 25% of all men will experience at least one osteoporotic fracture in their life time
  • The governments’ understanding of micronutrient requirements as expressed in the RDI’s is archaic
  • Most if not all RDI’s for vitamins and minerals are woefully low, while the RDI of 1,000-1,500mg per day of calcium could be dangerously highFACT: Bantu women in Africa have lower estrogen levels than U.S. women both before and after menopause. They consume less than 500mg per day of calcium yet osteoporotic fractures are extremely rare.FACT: The Japanese dietary calcium intake is 540mg per day yet their hip fracture rate is half of western countries.FACT: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that post-menopausal women who took 2,000mg of calcium per day had the same rate of bone loss as those on placebo.

    FACT: A study done by the Mayo Clinic on 106 women of various ages demonstrated that over a 2.6 to 6.6 year observation period there was no correlation between calcium supplementation and the rate of bone loss.

    FACT: Calcium by itself doesn’t work very well. A study of 26 post-menopausal women who were placed on HRT and a “bone healthy” diet demonstrated a meager increase of BMD (Bone Mineral Density) of .7%. The group that was given a mixture of calcium and other supportive and synergistic micronutrients demonstrated an increase in BMD 16 times greater than the control.

    FACT: A 1981 study of calcium versus calcium and supportive co-factors demonstrated that the mixture increased BMD 200-300% greater than calcium alone.

    DANGER: Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is caused by calcification of these and other soft tissues throughout the body.

    DANGER: When calcium is supplemented by itself and is not being incorporated into the bone matrix, the difference between what is consumed and excreted contributes not only to arteriosclerosis but accelerated aging of soft tissues throughout the body.

    FACT: Two forms of a lesser known vitamin have been shown to be 56-74% deficient in people with osteoporosis.

    FACT: This same vitamin has been shown to increase the absorption of calcium into the osteocalcin matrix by 50% in just 14 days.

    FACT: This same vitamin has been shown in vitro and in animals to draw calcium out of soft tissues and reverse calcification.

    FACT: Several studies have shown that absorption of calcium by humans decreases with age. Calcium absorption can be enhanced by a particular kind of health promoting fiber.

    FACT: Deposition of calcium into the bone matrix is only half of the BMD equation. Bone Resorption (the loss of bone) must also be addressed!

    FACT: Two herbs with substantial health promoting benefits in areas other than BMD have been shown in vitro and in animals to decrease osteoclast (cells that consume bone) activity and decrease bone resorption. This is a mechanism similar to the bisphosponate drugs like Fosamax. But these drugs have side effects like esophageal irritation and are also expensive.

    FACT: Slowing down calcification and glycation (the aging effects of sugar on the organs of our body) is a major anti-aging benefit.

    FACT: Homocysteine which is a marker or indicator of many chronic degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and diabetes , is also higher in patients with osteoporosis. A combination of three common vitamins has been clinically shown to reduce homocysteine.

    FACT: In addition to the role it plays in bones, Calcium is essential to over-all health and longevity. But calcium must be taken correctly and with the proper supporting co-factors, biochemically, synergistic ingredients.

    JUST TAKE SOME CALCIUM AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING?
    It perplexes me as to why some physicians and even dieticians and nutritionists aren’t a bit more careful when they tell patients or customers to take 1000-1500mg of calcium per day because it’s “healthy for their bones”?

    The assumption being made is that all or most of this large amount of calcium being recommended is actually getting into the bones. Many healthcare professionals will also recommend that the calcium be coupled with a Vitamin D, because it helps to increase the absorption of calcium into the blood (which is true).

    The question not being asked or answered is where is this calcium going once its in the blood and available systemically? Is it possible that some of this calcium is NOT winding up in the bones but in the lining of the arteries instead? This is a process known as arterial calcification which can cause arterial dysfunction. The answer is a resounding YES! Let’s take a look at what needs to happen for calcium to deposit into the bones and alternatively, not into the lining of the arteries!

    Calcium is a positively charged atom called a cation. It’s charge is +2 (divalent). In order for calcium to be absorbed into the bone matrix, a protein named osteocalcin has to undergo a process called carboxylation to be able to bind with the calcium. When osteocalcin is “under” carboxylated, the calcium will not be absorbed well or at all. Another protein called Matrix Gla Protein is found in the arterial cell wall, MGP maintains healthy soft tissue calcium metabolism protecting against arterial calcification.

    So what do the bones and the arteries have in common regarding calcium??? Vitamin K! Via the process of carboxylation, Vitamin K assures that both osteocalcin is carboxylated so that calcium can be deposited into the bone matrix, and matrix Gla via carboxylation is synthesized to prevent the deposition of calcium into the arteries.

    While Vitamin D is necessary, plays a role in the carboxylation process and has many other wellness benefits… healthy calcium metabolism both in bones and arteries is very dependent upon Vitamin K. It seems that Vitamin K-2 (menaquinones) may have more cardiovascular benefit while Vitamin K-1 phylloquinone may work better for bones… so a combination of Vitamin K-1* and K-2 * might be advisable to a dosage of at least 1mg of K-1, plus 100mcg (micrograms) of a form of K-2.*

    Taking therapeutic amounts of Vitamin K has been shown to significantly reduce fracture rates at the hip and spine, yet it does not seem to increase Bone Mineral Density (BMD). This does not surprise me because BMD does not accurately measure the architecture of the bones, just the mineral presence. Obviously, the mechanism of Vitamin K is working in a different manner. Additionally, other health benefits for Vitamin K are being written about in the literature. It seems that this vitamin may be involved in prevention of osteoarthritis, has anti-inflammatory mechanisms, may be of real benefit in preventing prostate cancer, and deficiencies may be involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s.

    To sum up, calcium intake of greater than 500-600mg per day is not necessary or useful in preventing bone fractures. Adding at least 5000 IU per day of Vitamin D-3, and at least 1-2 mg of Vitamin K, and 500mg per day of Magnesium to your daily diet will give you the protection against bone fractures that you need.

    For these reasons, and to insure that calcium ends up in your bones and not lining your arteries, it is very important to take a properly formulated supplement. A supplement with the right combination of high quality vitamins and minerals at the proper doses for healthier bones and ultimately to prevent fractures.

  • *Vitamin K-1 is also known either as phylloquinone or phytonadione. 
    * Vitamin K-2 is also known as menaquinone-7 (There is a menaquinone-4 but preliminary research seems to indicate that more of it is necessary to achieve results than the MK-7 can yeild at mcg levels).