This is the point where my alarm bells start ringing. Why? Because if someone is experiencing muscle pain, swelling and/or twitching and that person is taking statins, it is in my opinion highly likely, that that these symptoms are the side-effects of statins. And despite the NHS claiming that "most people tolerate them well and don't experience any problems", I beg to differ. According to the NHS data, 1 in 10 people are affected by the side effects of statins. But other sources, however say as many as 1 in 5 will suffer. ONE in FIVE!
So 1 in 5 people will experience one or several of the following:
"Nosebleeds, sore throats, non-allergic rhinitis" (or a runny/blocked nose to you and me) - whilst unpleasant, you might be prepared to put up with these if it saves you having a hear attack, right? The list goes on: " headache, feeling sick, digestive problems". Still better than a heart attack, you might say. Then there are "muscle and joint pain, increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) and an increased risk of diabetes". Hmmm ... ... ...
Muscle & joint pain in the "symptoms" and statins in the "current medication" sections of the patient questionnaire - this is the combination that has my alarm bells ringing every time and it is at this point that I feel acupuncture is simply not going to be enough. Whilst some temporary improvement may be achieved, it is very difficult to produce lasting results because the maintaining cause remains.
This is not the case of the mysterious "stuck Qi" or the patient's body "malfunctioning" for one reason or another. The problem is with the statins interfering with the normal biological processes and depriving the body of cholesterol.
Yes, depriving. You see, despite being demonised for many years, cholesterol is actually VITAL for our bodies and our well-being. You need cholesterol for:
- new cells - it is used to build and maintain cell membranes of EVERY SINGLE CELL in our body;
- production of steroid hormones: cortisol, aldosterone, oestrogen, testosterone to name a few. These regulate stress response, the way our bodies deal with carbohydrates and blood sugar levels, immune responses, maintain blood pressure, regulate sexual development and fertility.
- healthy digestion - bile is made from cholesterol that has been converted by the liver. It is necessary for absorption of dietary fat and fat-soluble Vitamins like A, D, E and K.
- Vitamin D synthesis can't take place without cholesterol, and without Vitamin D your body won't be able to absorb calcium and phosphorus, build strong bones, maintain a healthy immune system and deal with inflammation.
- well-functioning nervous system - nerve signal transmission and healthy brain function simply can't happen without cholesterol. Human brain contains the most cholesterol of all the body organs.
- and in case you didn't know it, if you breast-fed your children - you fed them cholesterol! Lots of it!
Now that you've seen just how important cholesterol is, you'd think there must be some pretty good reasons to start lowering it ... right? Statins are life-saving, aren't they?
According to Diabetes UK:
Research shows that for every 1,000 people that are at risk of heart problems, if those people take a statin for three years, statins will prevent: 7 non-fatal heart attacks, 4 strokes, 2 deaths.
" ... taking a statin for one year, in the highest risk group possible [those who've already had a cardiovascular incident], would increase your life expectancy by around three days."
Yes, just THREE DAYS. How is this possible after you've heard so much about the statins' "life-saving" effects? Clever statistical manipulation, excellent PR campaigns and ... read more here
The sad thing is, whilst the pharmaceutical industry is playing with numbers, people are suffering. For some - the side effects of statins are life-changing and result in disability. Others - brave it and give them up with spectacular results.
As for that gentleman who came in to the acupuncture clinic? I shall never know. I never saw him again. I hope one day he comes across the fantastic work of these people: Cardiologist Dr Malcolm Kendrick, cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhorta, vascular surgeon Dr Haroun Gajraj, Dr John Briffa, Dr Vernon Wheelock, Dr David H. Newman are just a few of the many speaking out about statins.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs are very fast loosing credibility, even with the medical professionals. More and more scientists, physicians and researchers are challenging the shockingly-bad science behind statins and the very fact that blood cholesterol levels don't necessarily have anything to do with heart disease. Luckily, the tide finally appears to be turning ... But I still dread hearing "Yes" to the question "Are you currently taking any cholesterol-lowering medication?"