Healthy Q & A: Lipitor Raising Blood Sugar Levels and Natural Alternatives for Loweing Cholesterol

Q: Does Lipitor raise blood sugar levels? I have a friend who was prescribed Lipitor for cholesterol. The next time he went to the doctor, they wanted to check his blood sugar levels, and it turned out that out of nowhere his blood sugar levels were out of control! Now the doctor wants to put him on medication for diabetes too! I’ve never heard of this, so I wanted to ask if it was a common thing. Also, my cholesterol is on the higher side, so I wondered if there was anything natural for cholesterol which really worked (I’m a little nervous about the doctor now). Thanks.

A: First, I would say if your friend is unhappy about his physician, he should seek out another one.  There are many physicians who are more open to natural alternatives, Dr. John Principe is one we’d recommend who is based in Palos Heights.

Lipitor is a statin drug which is very commonly prescribed to lower high cholesterol.  It is not without side effects however, including increased blood sugar levels.  It is not as common as muscle pain (the most reported side effect of Lipitor), but is serious enough that the FDA has issued a warning on statin labels about the possible side effects of blood sugar levels and diabetes. Mayo clinic reports that Lipitor may increase blood glucose levels enough that a person may develop type II diabetes as a result of taking the medication.

There are a number of effective natural supplements for lowering cholesterol, which I would definitely recommend for people who have cholesterol problems.  High cholesterol is a serious issue that cannot be ignored since it can dramatically raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.

One popular alternative is red yeast rice.  Red yeast rice actually works in the same way in the body as a statin, but naturally and with fewer side effects.  Since it has the same mechanism as a statin, when supplementing with red yeast rice, it’s important to also supplement with the nutrient CoQ10 since production of that crucial nutrient is blocked by both statins and red yeast rice to a lesser extent (CoQ10 is an important supplement for heart health, as is known for its benefits for heart attack prevention).

The interesting thing about red yeast rice is that unlike Lipitor’s side effect of raising blood sugar, red yeast rice has been demonstrated to actually lower blood sugar, so it’s suitable for diabetics or anyone else with blood sugar issues.

If you’re interested in taking red yeast rice, I would recommend the extended release formula made by Nature’s Plus.  I know numerous people who have taken that specific formula and have had success in lowering their cholesterol levels. By using extended release technology, the body is able to absorb more of the supplement, since it is released slowly over a number of hours instead of all at once.  Red yeast rice should be taken at night for maximum effectiveness.

Another supplement I would very much recommend for lowering cholesterol is Sytrinol.  I like it because it works in an entirely different way than statins, and is free of their side effects.  Sytrinol is a patented extract from citrus fruits.  Studies have shown a 300mg dose to be remarkably effective for high cholesterol.  Research has found that Sytrinol supplementation produced a 30% drop in total cholesterol, 27% in LDL cholesterol, and a 34% drop in triglycerides. In addition, HDL levels increased by 4%, resulting in a significant 29% improvement in the LDL:HDL ratio.  Another study had the following results after just one month: total cholesterol was lowered by 25%, bad LDL cholesterol by 19%, and triglycerides by 24%.

Additionally, Sytrinol helps to prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol and can also aid in reducing arterial inflammation.

For a Sytrinol supplement, I’d recommend the one by NOW Foods.  Is it a two a day formula which combines the researched dose of 300mg of Sytrinol with other nutrients that have shown helpful for lowering cholesterol and promoting liver health.