Currently there are 7 million people taking Statin drugs in the UK, but new research published yesterday suggests this number is far too high and advises GP’s that the prescriptions of many of these patients need to be reviewed. Statins are a class of drug used to lower cholesterol levels. High cholesterol has been linked to cardiovascular disease and heart disease which accounts for approximately half of worldwide deaths. For years the pharmaceutical companies have been looking for a way to control this huge problem. When lipid controlling drugs first came out a few years ago they were seen as the ‘silver bullet’ for heart disease by much of the industry and the media, so much so that GP’s were encouraged to prescribe them preventatively to anyone over fifty, and its precisely this low risk group that the research found are getting little or no benefit from taking the drugs. Furthermore, some patients were found to be worse off than if they did not to take the drug at all. A large list of side effects are commonly reported suggesting the statin bubble has burst, namely; tiredness, myalgia, cramp, muscle problems, raised liver enzymes, cognitive loss, neuropathy, liver dysfunction and sexual dysfunction as well as some lesser reported symptoms. It seems that there is always a ‘wonder drug’ around the corner heralding the dawn of a new age of human wellness that never actually delivers on its promise.
These side effects are largely the reason why people are turning to techniques like acupuncture, osteopathy and homeopathy, and many other therapies that are holistic in nature. Medications that are ‘anti’ such as anti cholesterol, anti depressant, or anti inflammatory, as the name suggests, are medicines that work against a particular function of the body. A symptom is the outward manifestation, the cause will be deeper in the body and ‘anti medicines’ often hide the problem and perhaps even obscure the possibility of a real cure. In Fact, symptoms give us the possibility of monitoring the development of the condition and we know when the symptom’s are resolved, the condition is resolved completely, symptom and cause. This is the level that Acupuncture is working on.
Statins target different types of fat in the blood indiscriminately. This is possibly the reason for the large number of side effects that have come to light. The levels of ‘good’ lipo-proteins are reduced, along with the ‘bad’(high density and low density lipo-proteins respectively). The same is true for triglycerides and other fats. However, when using Acupuncture to control the cholesterol levels, the practitioner is able to exert more control over the process and target the ‘bad’ fats directly, or maybe its more accurate to say the Acupuncture allows the body to target the fats that are damaging. Lipids are synthesized and transformed in the liver. The presence of low density lipo-proteins in the blood means that the energy of the liver is not flowing as it should, in Acupuncture philosophy this is called liver qi stagnation, which is the most common diagnosis in Chinese medicine and is responsible for many different conditions. The presence of high levels of triglycerides (the other main issue in high cholesterol levels) is a problem in the quality of liver energy rather than the flow (as with stagnation). If this ‘wrong quality’ is sedated from the system or rebalanced the levels of triglycerides return to normal.
As I have said in previous blogs medication has its place within modern healthcare and thousands of people would die without their daily prescriptions. But in my humble opinion it is high time that the profile of Acupuncture and other performing therapies be raised to a level where they are seen as a viable alternative to drug’s by the healthcare system and the general public.