The safest, most effective, and cheapest treatment for high cholesterol is a vitamin that costs 7 cents per pill, according to a new report from Orthomolecular Medicine News Service
(OMNS), a nonprofit research group in Wichita, Kansas.
Vitamin B3—also called niacin or nicotinic acid—has been safely used for 60 years to control cholesterol, with some 42,000 scientific papers in PubMed describing its benefits and effects.
“Unlike statin drugs, which mainly reduce LDL cholesterol, niacin is a very safe, effective treatment for all lipid issues, improving levels of both good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides, ” says Bradley Bale, MD, medical director of the Heart Health Program for Grace Clinic in Lubbock, Texas.
One landmark study published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that at therapeutic doses, niacin boosted HDL by up to 35 percent and cut triglycerides by as much as 50 percent.
Most remarkably, when the researchers tracked the 8,431 participants—all of whom had suffered heart attacks prior to enrolling in the study—for 15 years, those on niacin had a 26 percent lower risk for both heart attacks and strokes, even after treatment was discontinued, compared to those taking a placebo.
Despite some 42,000 scientific papers in PubMed describing niacin’s effectiveness and medical uses, it’s remained the ugly duckling of heart medicines, for a variety of reasons.
“The simple answer is to follow the money,” contends OMNS. “Cholesterol-controlling drugs [such as statins] are cash cows for the trillion-dollar-per-year pharmaceutical industry,” while there’s no marketing push to persuade medical providers to recommend a cheap, OTC remedy like niacin.
In his practice, Dr. Bale typically recommends niacin for the following patients, if medically appropriate:
People with high cholesterol who can’t tolerate statin drugs. About 20 percent of statin users quit taking their medication due to side effects.
Patients with complex lipid issues, such as low levels of heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol and high triglycerides (a type of blood fat).
People with inherited cholesterol disorders, such as elevated levels of lipoprotein (a), a type of cholesterol that triples heart attack risk and does not respond to statins. Taking niacin can reduce lipoprotein (a) levels by up to 40 percent, according to the European Atherosclerosis Society.
Patients whose cholesterol problems aren’t responding to statins. Several studies show that statins plus niacin is more effective than statins alone.source