Zocor Alternative

June 15, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

One principle of integrative and naturopathic medicine is that every client, patient and student is a unique individual with different desires, needs and points of view. In my line of work, this sometimes presents itself in the form of a client who is seeking a specific result but only willing to approach it in a limited way. I’ve learned that the best way to manage this situation, as challenging as it may be, is to find a way to provide truthful information that falls within the parameters of what they are willing to do. By doing so, they often become more receptive to my suggestions down the line. The recent headlines about Zocor, a popular cholesterol medication, provide a good illustration of what I mean.

First, a bit of background. In 2010, over 2.1 million patients were prescribed high dosage simvastatin or Zocor (80 mg/day) alone or in conjunction with other medications to address cardiovascular risk. Last week, the FDA issued a warning against the use of high dose simvastatin due to reports of muscle damage and the potential for a kidney related complication known as rhabdomyolsis. According to some consumer advocates, this isn’t going far enough. Dr. Michael Carome of the Health Research Group for Public Citizen remarked that, “We believe that the 80-milligram dose should be taken off the market completely”. Patients using this strategy to lower cholesterol are currently being urged to consult their physicians to assess the possibility of adopting a different treatment strategy. (1,2,3)

This isn’t the first safety alert with respect to Zocor and related statin drugs. About year ago, a client read a preliminary warning issued by the FDA and asked my opinion about an alternative approach. The person in question is someone who is used to having his way and presented me with the following restrictions:

  • Mr. X would not consider making major dietary or lifestyle changes. He wanted to live his life on his terms.
  • Mr. X didn’t want to swap “one pill for another”. In other words, no new supplements.

“Not a problem”, I said. “But I’m warning you. If you do what I suggest, it’ll probably change your life in more ways than just your lab results – very positive ways actually. I’m just not sure whether you’re dedicated enough to do it.” My challenge was indeed accepted and the results were predictably positive.

It’s a little known fact, but practicing yoga can be a more powerful way to contend with cardiovascular disease than most medications. To be clear, this is my personal point of view. However, it’s a perspective that has a firm foundation that is laid out clearly in the scientific literature. A study in this month’s edition of the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine is the latest to prove this point. The trial involved 170 men and women who were randomly assigned to engage in yoga for 35 to 40 minutes/day, five days/week for six months or a “non-yoga” group. Compared to the control group, the yoga practitioners lowered their blood pressure, body fat, body mass index, heart rate, LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol and triglycerides. This is not an anomalous finding. Similar results have been presented in numerous study populations, including patients with coronary artery disease, post-menopausal women and type-2 diabetics. In some instances, other health benefits such as reductions in blood sugar and oxidative stress have as also been demonstrated. (4,5,6,7,8)

How Yoga Supports a Healthy Cardiovascular System

Source: The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice 18:491-519 (link)

In December 2007, the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing performed a systematic search of studies pertaining to the effects of yoga interventions on common risk factors of chronic diseases. A total of 32 scientific papers published between 1980 and April 2007 were identified. The research in question revealed that yogic practice was “generally effective in reducing body weight, blood pressure, glucose level and high cholesterol”. But, a reduction in risk markers only goes so far. Other successes noted in published trials describe a “regression of coronary lesions”, “regression of coronary atherosclerosis” and decreased frequency of coronary angioplasty and bypass surgery in frequent yoga practitioners. Improvements in circulatory measurements/endothelial function and insulin resistance have likewise been documented in peer reviewed medical journals. (9,10,11,12,13)

The positive changes I alluded to earlier have a lot to do with the mental health attributes of yoga. Instead of being concerned about adverse reactions such as kidney or liver damage and muscle pain, yoga enthusiasts frequently express a welcome shift in their perception of life. From a Western medical perspective, this is evidenced by a decline in anxiety and depression indexes. Best of all, these life affirming psychological shifts are apparent regardless of age, gender or medical status. Once again, this isn’t simply a matter of opinion. It’s a point of view that is strictly informed by controlled studies that happen to support historical observations. This is not to say that yoga is appropriate for everyone or that select medications do not have a place in modern medicine. That’s a discussion that needs to take place between patients and physicians. But an understanding that viable alternatives exist should always be part of the decision making process. (14,15,16)

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


Tags: , ,
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Mental Health

4 Comments & Updates to “Zocor Alternative”

  1. Emily Smith Says:

    Nice to find your site!
    I am an Acupuncturist and yoga teacher in Japan and am just starting my blog site….Love your attitude and will definitely keep coming back!
    Be well!

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Emily!

    I wish you all the best with your site and work.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 08/27/16:


    Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:5387258.

    Effects of 8-Week Hatha Yoga Training on Metabolic and Inflammatory Markers in Healthy, Female Chinese Subjects: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

    We aimed to determine the effects of an 8 wk Hatha yoga training on blood glucose, insulin, lipid profiles, endothelial microparticles (EMPs), and inflammatory status in healthy, lean, and female Chinese subjects. A total of 30 healthy, female Chinese subjects were recruited and randomized into control or yoga practice group. The yoga practice included 8 wks of yoga practice (2 times/wk) for a total of 16 times. Fasting blood samples were collected before and after yoga training. Plasma was isolated for the measurement of lipid profiles, glucose, insulin, EMPs, and inflammatory cytokines. Whole blood was cultured ex vivo and stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and Pam3Cys-SK4. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated for the measurement of TLR2 and TLR4 protein expression. Yoga practice significantly reduced plasma cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, insulin levels, and CD31+/CD42b- EMPs. Cultured whole blood from the yoga group has reduced proinflammatory cytokines secretion both at unstimulated condition and when stimulated with Pam3Cys-SK4; this might be associated with reduced TLR2 protein expression in PBMCs after yoga training. Hatha yoga practice in healthy Chinese female subjects could improve hallmarks related to MetS; thus it can be considered as an ancillary intervention in the primary MetS prevention for the healthy population.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 07/22/17:


    J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Nov 28;7(3):322-326.

    Effect of yoga training on lipid metabolism in industrial workers with reference to body constitution (Prakriti).

    INTRODUCTION: The progressive increase in dyslipidemia and physical inactivity are considered to be major risk factors for the onset of non communicable diseases. Awareness of body constitution plays a vital role to regularise optimum health. The present study was planned to evaluate the effect of yoga practices on lipid metabolism with reference to specific body constitution (Prakriti).

    METHODS: A self-as-control study was conducted on 36 male healthy volunteers between age group of 30-58 years. Their prakriti analysis was done using standardized, validated questionnaire and were divided into Vata-Pitta (n = 16) and Pitta-Kapha (n = 20) groups. The assessment of lipid profile was done in fasting blood samples before and after 12 weeks of yoga training. Data were analyzed using paired t-test and independent t-test.

    RESULTS: After yoga intervention, the result of within group comparison revealed that in Vata-Pitta (V-P) group, significant decrease in the levels of TC, LDL (p < 0.001) and significant increase in HDL (p < 0.01) was observed. While, Pitta-Kapha (P-K) group showed significant decrease in TC (p < 0.001), TG (p < 0.01), LDL (p < 0.001) and VLDL (p < 0.05) levels. Further, the results between groups revealed that P-K group has significantly higher baseline levels of TC, TG and VLDL as compared to V-P group (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: The study concludes that yoga practices can effectively regulate lipid metabolism and total body energy expenditure with reference to specific constitutional type (Prakriti) that may act as a tool to assess magnitude of metabolic functions. Be well! JP

Leave a Comment