Prescription drugs are not your only option for treatment of high cholesterol. A number of over-the-counter drugs and supplements have been shown to help lower your low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, levels. LDL is also commonly referred to as bad cholesterol. Many prescription statins that lower your bad cholesterol have potential side effects. If your cholesterol levels are not dangerously high, or you cannot take statins because of the side effects, an over-the-counter remedy may be suitable for you. Speak to your doctor before you try any over-the-counter drugs to lower your cholesterol.
Alfalfa has long been an herbal remedy for a variety of conditions. The herb's leaves, sprouts and seeds are commonly used to help treat kidney and prostate conditions. The seeds have also proven to be an effective combatant against high cholesterol. The National Institutes of Health reports on a study that saw a 30 percent decrease in bad cholesterol levels in 15 patients who received 40 g of heated alfalfa seeds three times daily at mealtimes for eight weeks. Their diets were otherwise unchanged, and the patients did not take any other type of cholesterol drugs.
Flaxseed is perhaps most commonly used to help relieve constipation and improve digestion, but this natural herbal supplement is also often recommended to help lower bad cholesterol levels. Flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids and fiber and is typically available in whole or ground form. Most health food stores and some pharmacies carry both forms of flaxseed. Flaxseed can be incorporated into cereals, sandwiches, yogurt and baked goods. There is no recommended daily allowance for flaxseed, but 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseed provides you with about one day's worth of omega-3.
Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice, as an herbal medicine, can help lower your bad cholesterol level. In supplement form, red yeast rice promotes a pain-free solution to high cholesterol unlike statins, which often cause muscle pain in users. In a University of Pennsylvania study, 62 patients took a prescription statin, with half of the patients taking the red yeast rice supplement in addition to the statin. The group who took the supplement lowered their bad cholesterol by 27 percent in 12 weeks, compared to only a 6-percent drop in the group who only took the statin. Red yeast rice is an ideal cholesterol-lowering option if you cannot or choose not to take a prescription drug.
While most drugs are designed to lower your bad cholesterol, increasing your high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, also commonly referred to as the good cholesterol, can help control you total cholesterol level . Niacin is a B vitamin needed to turn carbohydrates into energy and is a common ingredient in multivitamin supplements. It can raise your HDL level by up to 35 percent, which, in turn, helps cleanse your bloodstream of LDL cholesterol. Niacin can be taken alone or with other cholesterol-lowering drugs, but speak to your doctor before making niacin part of your supplement routine.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Alfalfa Seeds Lower Low Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Apolipoprotein B Concentrations in Patients with Type II Hyperlipoproteinemia; J. Moelgaard, et al.; May 1987
- Mayo Clinic; Does Ground Flaxseed Have More Health Benefits than Whole Flaxseed?; Katherine Zeratsky; January 2010
- ABC News; Red Yeast Rice Helps Reduce Cholesterol; John McKenzie; June 2009
- Mayo Clinic; Niacin to Boost Your HDL, 'Good,' Cholesterol; June 2009