Cholesterol Treatments

Chat with Pharmacy Staff

Question

What are treatments for high cholesterol?

Answer

Alternative therapies for high cholesterol

There are alternative therapies for high cholesterol, but at this time, there is some debate on the effectiveness of these treatments. Some people try alternative therapies to reduce cholesterol, including garlic and red yeast rice. Other supplements touted to reduce cholesterol include chromium, lecithin and quercetin. These approaches are controversial and should only be used under the guidance of your physician. While some medical research has shown that herbs and supplements can lower cholesterol, other research has shown that they do not.

Over-the-counter treatments for high cholesterol

There are some over-the-counter treatments for people with high cholesterol. Typically, the first option for lowering your cholesterol is changing your diet and exercise and weight loss. But if changes in diet and exercise don't work to bring blood cholesterol levels into a healthy range, doctors most commonly recommend niacin or prescription medication next.

  • Niacin - When used properly, niacin works very well to lower total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol ("bad cholesterol"). Niacin can also increase HDL-cholesterol ("good cholesterol"). Also called vitamin B3, niacin products are available in both regular and slow-release forms. Slow-release niacin may cause less flushing and upset stomach than regular niacin. Unfortunately, slow-release niacin has been found to cause liver damage more often than regular niacin. For this reason, only people who experience bothersome side effects while taking regular niacin should use slow-release niacin. Niacin should be used to lower cholesterol only under the direction of a doctor.
  • Psyllium powder - There has been some research into using common fiber powders like Metamucil® to help lower cholesterol levels. A recent review of scientific research showed that taking 10 grams of psyllium powder every day in addition to a low fat diet can lower total and LDL cholesterol an additional 4% to 7% respectively.

Prescription treatment options

There are prescription treatments for high cholesterol but they are prescribed only after changes in diet and exercise have failed. Prescription drugs used to treat high cholesterol include bile-acid resins and statins.

Back to Pharmacist FAQs

If you're looking for more specific answers to specific questions, ask a Walgreens pharmacist here.

DISCLAIMER:
Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a Walgreens.com pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.