High Cholesterol - Other Treatment

Some plant products can help lower cholesterol. But don't use them to replace your doctor's treatment. Research has not proven that they lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Whether or not you use such products, be sure to continue your diet, exercise, and prescription medicines.

As with any new form of treatment, make sure to talk with your doctor first. This is especially important if you take statins. Combining statins and some supplements can cause dangerous side effects.

Psyllium

Psyllium is an ingredient in some dietary supplements-Metamucil, for example. It's a fiber from fleawort and plantago seeds.

Doctors aren't sure how it helps cholesterol levels. It may make the small intestine absorb less cholesterol, so less of it enters your blood.

Psyllium is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The main side effect is increased bowel movements. Products containing psyllium aren't recommended to replace foods as a source of fiber.

Sterol or stanol esters

Sterol and stanol esters are used in cholesterol-lowering margarine spreads.

Sterol esters might limit how much cholesterol the small intestine can absorb. These margarines are used along with a heart-healthy diet.

Red yeast rice

Red yeast rice contains a natural form of lovastatin, a statin medicine. This supplement may keep your body from producing too much cholesterol. But this supplement can cause dangerous side effects.

Talk to your doctor before you try red yeast rice. Serious side effects include rhabdomyolysis and hepatitis. Red yeast rice is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so you cannot be sure of the amount of red yeast in a supplement. This means you cannot be sure of its dose and safety.

If you take red yeast rice, call your doctor right away if you have a bad reaction to it such as severe muscle pain or symptoms of hepatitis.

Do not take red yeast supplements if you are taking statins. Combining them can cause dangerous side effects.

Other dietary supplements and vitamins

There are some dietary supplements that you may hear about to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. It is not clear if some vitamins, minerals, and multivitamins can lower risk. But it is clear that some supplements, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, do not lower risk.1

Talk with your doctor about the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Tell your doctor if you plan to use dietary supplements or vitamins. Your doctor can make sure they are safe for you.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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