Can taking a statin impair cognition—and maybe inhibit orgasms? Possibly. Might there be better alternatives? Possibly, depending upon the individual.
Physician and neuro-imaging specialist Douglas Bremner explained the potential risk on his blog [no longer available]. Driving down your cholesterol score with statins, he claims, might not be a bright—or sexy—idea.
Bremner previously wrote regularly about medical issues at his blog, an offshoot of his book Before You Take that Pill: Why the Drug Industry May Be Bad for Your Health.
In 2009, he co-published this paper concerning the industry-sponsored JUPITER trials: JUPITER: A Few Words of Caution. The paper’s conclusion, in part:
At the current status of knowledge, behavioral prevention strategies remain the best investment for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in predominantly healthy individuals.
According to a 2018 paper in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration (The role of statins in both cognitive impairment and protection against dementia: a tale of two mechanisms):
Being mindful of the complex effects of statins, health care providers need to be able to identify patients who are at risk for or already experiencing cognitive impairment from statin use while also identifying those who could potentially decrease their risk of dementia with statins.
What Does This Have To Do with ADHD?
Maybe nothing. Or maybe something. But it’s worth mentioning in this brief post—along with potential alternatives.
I can’t help but suspect but cannot quantify: Statins are being inordinately prescribed to adults with untreated ADHD.
- ADHD symptoms can conspire to create a dismal health picture and make it hard to implement lifestyle changes.
- Low initiation and motivation often mean meager exercise or erratic routines (overdoing it for a while and then underdoing it).
- Disorganization makes it difficult to plan and prepare healthy meals.
- “Self-medicating” with sugar, sodas, and unhealthy snacks creates a host of health problems, including diabetes and yes, high levels of “bad cholesterol.”
For these people, using statins to treat the symptoms of high cholesterol and triglycerides might not be the best solution. Two reasons:
- As Dr. Bremner points out, statins can actually decrease cognitive function. That’s not a good thing for adults who are already suffering from cognitive impairments.
- What if treating the ADHD first meant not only better functioning but greater health?
Why might physicians resort to statins instead of guiding their patients in developing healthier lifestyles? One reason commonly offered is: “People just won’t follow through!”
But think about it: Many people do follow through. So what’s different from those who cannot?
ADHD should at least be ruled out, don’t you think? When ADHD is treated, patients are better able to organize, initiate, and in general practice better self-care.
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Our Bodies and Brains Need Cholesterol
We hear a lot about cholesterol—but mostly about its dangers. We seldom hear that our brains (and the rest of our bodies, too) need cholesterol.
According to Harvard (Medical School) Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/cholesterol
Cholesterol isn’t entirely the health villain it’s made out to be, its name darkly linked to heart attack, stroke, and other types of cardiovascular disease.
Our bodies need cholesterol, which is a type of lipid (another name for fat) to make cell membranes, key hormones like testosterone and estrogen, the bile acids needed to digest and absorb fats, and vitamin D.
Cholesterol is so important to the body that the liver and intestines make it from scratch.
Nutritional Deficiencies Adversely Affect Cholesterol
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can adversely affect cholesterol and triglycerides. Addressing those deficiencies might improve both—not to mention improve overall health.
For example, several studies have shown magnesium’s “statin-like” positive effect on cholesterol. This one is co-authored by the leading magnesium researcher, Mildred Seelig, MD, now deceased: Comparison of mechanism and functional effects of magnesium and statin pharmaceuticals.
An excerpt from the abstract:
Mg is also necessary for the activity of lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT), which lowers LDL-C and triglyceride levels and raises HDL-C levels…. Mg at optimal cellular concentration is well accepted as a natural calcium channel blocker. More recent work shows that Mg also acts as a statin.
Moreover, if you are magnesium-deficient, that can be affecting you in many other ways, too. I’ve heard from many people with ADHD that magnesium supplements helped with their Restless Legs Syndrome.
From the Cleveland Clinic’s page on Restless Legs Syndrome: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-doctor-approved-home-remedies-for-restless-legs-syndrome/
“Anecdotally, magnesium may be helpful to relieve restless legs, and it is a natural muscle relaxant,” Dr. Vensel-Rundo says. She recommends taking magnesium separately rather than as part of a multivitamin.
For more information about magnesium, visit this page from the U.S. National Institutes of health.
Can Taking a Stimulant Normalize Mineral Uptake?
Speaking of Restless Legs Syndrome, many patients are prescribed iron supplements to treat it. This is definitely something you don’t try without consulting your doctor. Too much iron can be very harmful.
But what if taking a stimulant helped a person make better use of the iron in his normal diet?
Consider this interesting bit of preliminary research I reported on in 2016: Can Stimulants Normalize Iron Uptake in Individuals with ADHD? Maybe
Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have reduced iron levels in the brain, which normalize with stimulant medication, the research suggests.
Investigators at the Medical University of South Carolina Center for Biomedical Imaging in Charleston found that medication-naive patients with ADHD had significantly lower brain iron levels compared with their counterparts who had been receiving psychostimulant medication.
The researchers also found that ADHD patients with a history of psychostimulant medication treatment had brain iron levels comparable with those of control individuals, suggesting that brain iron levels may increase to normal levels with psychostimulant treatment.
The bottom line in this post: Treating ADHD and addressing vitamin and mineral deficiencies might help you to avoid chronic health conditions—and the potentially cognition-impairing medications used to treat them.
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