The statin-free life

Matt came to me because his doctor couldn't reduce his LDL cholesterol.

His doctor had prescribed Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor, Crestor, even pravastatin, all of which resulted in incapacitating muscle aches and weakness within a week of starting. No surprise, Matt had a jaundiced view of statin drugs.

We started out by characterizing his lipoprotein patterns:

--LDL 155 mg/dl

--72% of LDL was small LDL, a moderately severe pattern. (This means that small LDL comprised 112 mg/dl of the total 155 mg/dl LDL; large LDL comprised 43 mg/dl--small LDL was the problem.)

--HDL 42 mg/dl --Triglycerides 133 mg/dl

--No lipoprotein(a)

Beyond lipoproteins, Matt proved severely deficient in vitamin D with a starting level of 18 ng/ml.

Matt's doctor had advised that he avoid salt, as his blood pressure had been borderline high. His thyroid assessment disclosed a TSH of 3.89 mIU/ml with thyroid hormones free T3 and free T4 in the lower half of the normal range.

I therefore asked Matt to:

--Eliminate wheat, cornstarch, and sugars to reduce small LDL
--Add iodine
--Supplement 6000 units of an oil-based vitamin D preparation
--Take fish oil to provide at least 1800 mg EPA + DHA per day
--Take Armour Thyroid 1 grain per day

Several months later on this program, Matt had a repeat basic lipid panel:

--LDL 82 mg/dl--a 47% reduction

--HDL 52 mg/dl a 24% increase

--Triglycerides 60 mg/dl--a 55% decrease

In addition, vitamin D was 66 ng/ml, TSH was <1.0 mIU/ml with free T3 and free T4 in the upper half of the "reference range." Matt also felt great.

While the numbers could be slightly better, Matt had made tremendous progress towards achieving perfect values.

There you have it: Marked correction of cholesterol values, no statin drugs involved.

Comments (20) -

  • Kurt

    7/8/2009 8:59:33 PM |

    My total cholesterol was 236 two months ago, and my HDL was 155. My numbers have been like this for fifteen years or so (I'm 45), but when they lowered the threshold for prescribing a statin from 240 to 200, my doctor wanted me on a statin. I got a CAC scan and got a score of 42, so I knew I had to do something. I decided to try diet changes first, eating a lower fat diet but still eating moderate amounts of meat. I also took fish oil, Vitamin D, and a multivitamin/mineral supplement. Today, I got the results from my latest blood test, and my total cholesterol is 162, LDL 95, HDL 47, triglycerides 90. The doctor didn't mention taking a statin this time. I plan to get another CAC scan after a year.

  • Kurt

    7/8/2009 9:15:26 PM |

    I was wrong. My doctor wrote a note on my blood test - he still wants me take a statin "to reverse existing plaque."

  • Venkat

    7/8/2009 9:43:48 PM |

    Thanks for the post Dr.

    In my case when I started on fish oil capsules for Omega 3, my Uric Acid increased from 5.5 to 8.0.

    In this case, can I go for Cod liver oil? Does fish oil and Uric Acid have any connections based on your experience?

    Thanks in advance


  • Anonymous

    7/9/2009 3:33:16 AM |

    Doctor Davis,

    Did the patient lose weight? Belly fat specifically?

    Do you ever recommend additional iodine to patients that might already be getting 100% of the RDA via a multivitamin?


  • Anonymous

    7/9/2009 10:06:19 AM |

    Good for you Dr. Davis for your efforts to prove that you can achieve equal or better cholesterol results by simply using nutritional supplements instead of drug therapy that comes with all the nasty side effects.

  • Anonymous

    7/9/2009 10:32:11 PM |

    How did the iodine or Armour Thyroid affect his blood pressure? My understanding is that these can cause an increase.

  • Susan

    7/10/2009 5:44:05 PM |

    How long, do you suppose, will we have to wait for a study comparing outcomes for statin use vs. a regime that includes fish oil, vitamin D, niacin, and a wheat-free, sugar-free diet? If we ever see such a study, will it make any difference?

    It was just announced that in Canada we spend $2 billion a year on statins, and I can't tell you the number of times I've printed off "Evidence for Caution: Women and Statin Use" for friends whose physicians want them to take statins.

  • Ross

    7/10/2009 10:34:16 PM |

    Any increase from the improved thyroid function is very likely offset by the reduction in total blood volume that follows a normalization of insulin levels.  When your insulin levels drop, your kidneys stop retaining sodium and your blood pressure will usually fall.

  • Todd

    7/11/2009 12:45:58 PM |

    Dr. Davis- I'm going to try eliminating wheat for four weeks as you recommend. Is beer okay (in moderation)? What about spelt? Thank you.

  • billye

    7/11/2009 2:49:08 PM |

    I have had a remarkable reversal of my ill health, due to the diet of evolution, as you so eloquently proselytize for.  I just had to replace my Cardiologist, because he chooses to ignore your principles and practices.  My Nephrologist, Dr. Kenneth Tourgeman, who reads you every day, writes as you do, a very riveting and informative blog "" stopped many of my medications including Staten's, and of course raised the hackles of my old Cardiologist.  He has since referred me to a Cardiologist with his and your same views.  You and he, along with a few other brave hearts are fighting the good fight. Health care through low carb and a healthy high saturated fat diet, supplemented with high dose Vitamin D3, high dose fish oil, and super Vitamin K2.  Keep up the great work. We out here in the medical wilderness, give thanks for you revolutionary doctors who are curing disease instead of just treating it.

  • Anonymous

    7/11/2009 2:53:11 PM |

    Kurt - your doctor is a mindless statinator. Was your HDL originally 155 - that is astronomical (or was that LDL).  Explore Dr. Davis's trackyourplaque website and then join.  You should get HDL up above 60, and trigs down to 60 or less.  Cutting wheat and fructose out or largely so will kick the Hell out of the trigs, and there are many other things to consider for reducing plaque besides statins.  Your heart scan scores are far more important as a measure of heart health than your LDL number, and your second heart scan tells you more about the effectiveness of your program than your first or than any lipid panel.  Your 47 HDL says to me you are not taking enough fish oil -- get it to at least 3000 mg of DHA and EPA combined per day (not just 3000 mg of fish oil).


  • Kurt

    7/12/2009 12:22:43 PM |

    I screwed that up. Originally, my LDL was 155, now it's 95. My HDL is 49 (not 47, as I wrote).

    I have upped my fish oil 50%. I cut sugars out years ago, but I haven't tried cutting wheat out of my diet yet.

    What I'd like to do is try various diet changes and get tested after each change to see what's working, but I'm in New York, where the law won't let me go out and get my own cholesterol test.

  • Anonymous

    7/14/2009 4:06:58 AM |

    This device works great.
    costs about $5.00 per individual test so $15.00 to test trig, total chol and hdl (ldl is calculated)

  • Anonymous

    8/7/2010 3:40:24 PM |

    An Appeal for Support and Conformation of Adverse Effects

    My daughter has lived with ALS like symptoms for almost 3 years. The worst of the symptoms began when her simvastatin was increased to 80mg in 2008.
    Her MRI’s show LESIONS in the brain stem, specifically in the PONS area of her brain.
    Of course, her 4 physicians refuse to believe that statin is involved. They are all satisfied with the diagnosis of “Ataxia”.

    My Appeal is to all those who have similar brain lesions as shown and documented in MRIs. Please reply.

  • Anonymous

    9/17/2010 2:09:09 PM |

    To Anonymous (who left the comment above entitled Appeal For Support): You could go to for information about ALS as a statin side effect. Print out the relevant pages and show them to your daughter's physicians. If they're not willing to consider that your daughter's debility may be linked to statins, why don't you fire them and find her a new doctor?

  • buy jeans

    11/2/2010 8:30:05 PM |

    Matt's doctor had advised that he avoid salt, as his blood pressure had been borderline high. His thyroid assessment disclosed a TSH of 3.89 mIU/ml with thyroid hormones free T3 and free T4 in the lower half of the normal range.

  • m&b

    5/8/2011 3:30:11 AM |

    Dr. Davis,
    My husband, 39, has a family h/o cardiac disease which took his grandfathers life at age 45.    Now, he has 30-50% blockage in a LAD artery at the mid point, and 30% blockage at the outer portion.  With diet and exercise changes, along with chinese herbs for the past 3 months his LDL has decreased from 132 to 119.  He has not added fish oil, niacin, Vit D, or red yeast rice to his regimin yet.  He has lost 15 # so far. Dr pushing Zocor.  What do you suggest?


  • Simon

    5/12/2011 3:11:22 PM |

    The statin-free life is real, it's just the matter of what you need more - life without statins or the regular tasty but unhealthy food that you love.  And I'm pleased to read that so many people care about this.  I was prescribed simvastatin and I've been taking it for some months as my doctors instructed although I felt fine. And only then (I know it was silly) I bothered to google for simvastatin side effects.  I was really scared  about myopathy because I often had muscle cramps even before I started to take simvatsatin and I never cared about it.  So I decided to stop with statins, even though my doctor insisted on taking them, and just excluded a number of products from my diet - meat, fat cheese, all cholocale, candy and white sugar, bread, cakes, etc, and totally switched to fruit, veggies, cereals, nuts, cottage cheese, honey, steamed potato, etc. I also used flax seed - the taste reminds me of fish, I love it. Now my cholesterol is normal, I lost many pounds and squeezed into my 10-year-old jeans. I'm not taking statins and I'm not going to get off this diet - i got used to it.  I also wrote about this (a bit outdated now) and this was not an attempt to persuade anyone in anything, just my experience. I understand that food is a real sourse of pleasure for many people and the diet is a real torture incomparable with statins.  It's just that I'not that kind of person and I hate being dependant on meds. Statins are just the price we pay for our pleasures.

  • Dr. Charles L. Foster

    12/14/2012 3:00:57 PM |

    I really appreciate finding this source of information.  As a health care provider, I have seen a number of patients who have suffered needlessly because they chose to follow the statin lifestyle suggested by their PCP rather than changing their diet and supplementation.  I am convinced more than a couple actually died from the complications of the drugs.  Thanks for providing this resource.  I would like to offer your readers this article for their consideration.

    Dr. Charles L. Foster
    chiropractor, Rutland, VT

  • Dr. Charles L. Foster

    12/14/2012 3:09:28 PM |

    I had a patient who developed ALS after taking the same drugs.  Funny her ALS went away every time she stopped the drugs (3 times) but returned whenever she started them again.  Her doctor insisted that she would die of heart disease if she didn't take the meds.  Well, she took them and didn't die of heart disease.  I suppose he was right.  He told her to find another doctor if she wouldn't take his recommendations.  She paid with her life.  Supposedly she died of ALS.

    By the way, we were treating her for some of the other side effects, muscle weakness, joint pain, loss of balance.  During her medicated periods, she couldn't walk in her yard.  Her husband bought her a John Deere lawn tractor so she could visit her gardens and get about the yard.  When off the meds, she could ambulate on her own.  Tragic

    Dr. Charles Foster
    Chiropractor,  Rutland VT