My Natural Battle with Cholesterol

spoons filled with spices and seeds on black background

Photo by Pratiksha Mohanty on Unsplash

My History

My family has a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. As an early teen, my total cholesterol was 250. I was 5’3″ and barely 95 pounds. It stayed around that number for many years. After I turned 40, the numbers slowly started creeping up. At the same time the medical community changed the guidelines, which now put my cholesterol in the very high category. At each doctor visit, I was pressured to start a statin regiment. I

I refused for many years. I heard too many reports of scary side affects from statins and have an overall distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. I am highly sensitive to prescription medications and have a long list of drug allergies that caused not so pleasant events over my lifetime. Casually, I started researching natural methods for cholesterol reduction, but hadn’t made any serious changes. I didn’t smoke or drink, my blood pressure has always been good and while I could use to lose about 20 pounds, my other risk factors were low.

The Catalyst

In the summer of 2017, I went to one of my twice yearly checkups and the doctor was putting on the pressure to start taking statins. I was 49, doing yoga 4 times a week and feeling really healthy. In a moment of weakness, I gave in and decided to try statins. My daughter had moved across the country and we were traveling more. I wanted to ensure that I could keep up this healthy lifestyle for a long time and not be brought down by heart disease. It was the second week of June when I started taking Crestor. The first week was great. The second week started the minor muscle aches and twinges. At first I wrote them off as anxiety. I told myself I was looking for something to go wrong. I added a CoQ10 supplement as recommended to reduce the likelihood of side effects.

By week three, I started having trouble with my asthma. I was using my inhalers 3x a day. My asthma was always controlled when I used my inhalers, but this time the  inhalers only worked for about 30 minutes to an hour. On Friday, June 23rd, I started having debilitating muscle spasms. The muscles around my lungs felt like knives shooting up through my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. I convinced myself I wasn’t and used peppermint oil across my chest and back to relax the muscles. It provided some relief. The next morning in my anguish I wrote a not so nice message to my doctor and went off Crestor. The damage was done.

The next week was so bad I felt like I was a 70-year-old man with COPD. On the morning of July 2nd I woke up and still wasn’t feeling right. I went to the ER and was diagnosed with a small amount of pneumonia in my left lung and released. By that night I was rushed back to the ER and I now was diagnosed with Pneumonia in three-quarters of my left lung and Empyema. The escalating illness was caused by a rare bacteria due to my compromised lung function from the reaction to Crestor. I spent over 10 days in the hospital with chest tubes to drain the infection. I’ve been lucky so far to have never had a serious illness. After that event, I decided to take my health into my own hands.

My New Journey

I spent most of the Fall of 2017 recuperating. In November I met with my doctor. My Cholesterol had risen to 305. During the past few months, I had been researching new techniques for determining the pattern size of the LDL particles. I asked my doctor to write a script for my next visit and told him I was going to use more natural methods for controlling my Cholesterol. He listened and agreed to write a script for the additional tests. I could tell he wasn’t completely sold on the idea, but I told him there was no way I would ever take another statin. I didn’t want to find the one with the reaction of may cause death. I also did not believe in taking drugs with a large body of evidence of known side effects as a preventative that degrades quality of life just in case I might get heart disease. I resigned myself to the fact that if I had a heart attack and died at 65 it was meant to be.

My research lead me down a few paths. I tried the Keto/Paleo Diet, which has some promising new research, but I was not able to follow it. Instead I followed some of the research that gave indications of Cholesterol reductions. This research was related to vitamin C, Cinnamon, Vitamin B and Apple Cider Vinegar. Over the next 6 months I started taking the following regimen of supplements, drinking vinegar tea and made no additional changes to my diet. I’ve actually eaten Dunkin Donuts egg sandwiches and hash browns every morning religiously for years and that hasn’t stopped. Here is my daily regimen of vitamins.

Daily Vitamin Regimen

  • 2000 mg Vitamin C
  • 2000 mg of Cinnamon
  • 400 mg of CoQ10
  • Mega B multivitamin
  • Probiotic (minimum of 25 billion)

At my most recent doctors visit, I had reduced my cholesterol almost 40 points in 4 months. My total cholesterol dropped from 305 to 266. Back in November, I had also asked my doctor to do an LDL particle size test. It’s a test I was researching out of Australia. The results of this test showed I have large LDL particles, which flow through the arteries and do not stick to the sides and create plaque.  The other positive is my good cholesterol (HDL) continues to stay around 70. Given this new information, my doctor finally agreed with me and stopped pushing statins. Not that i would listen. Instead, he recommended trending my cholesterol for the next five years to watch what happens with the numbers. I on the other hand am continuing to research other areas to reduce inflammation. Since the most recent test I have added 2.4 g of Tumeric to my daily regimen and I’m excited to see what it does to my numbers when I take my next set of tests in November. “I do not claim to be an expert. I am just taking control and listening to my body. What works for me might not work for everyone.” Intuitively felt wrong to accept my only path is pharmaceuticals when my high cholesterol appears to be genetic.

Below are my recipe for vinegar tea, the additional cholesterol tests and links to some of the research I have used to base my decisions. In November after my next visit, I will post an update to let everyone know if my theory continues to be successful.

Have you done anything to take control of your health? Leave a reply below. I would love to continue the conversation…

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Recipe for the Vinegar Tea

(Also helps with congestion, coughing and post nasal drip)
Apple Cider Vinegar Tea – 2-3 x per day
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (must be Braggs with the mother)
1 teaspoon organic raw honey (anti-inflammatory)
Cayenne pepper – shake in to taste
8 oz hot water
(must drink through a straw to protect teeth)

Tests I’ve Requested

NMR Lipoprofile (this is the new one for particle size)
Apolipoprotein B
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

 

Research Links

Vitamin C (13 studies) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2682928/
Cinnamon – https://www.drjohnlapuma.com/wellness-and-health/what-type-of-cinnamon-lowers-cholesterol-and-why/
Cinnamon – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24019277
Cinnamon – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14633804
Cinnamon – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section2

 

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