Thousands of people stop taking their cholesterol-lowering statin medication because of the drug's debilitating side effects, such as pain and muscle weakness. Now scientists have discovered two simple remedies that can counter these effects - green tea and the coenzyme Q10.
Statin drugs have a toxic effect on mitochondria, the specialised structures found in all cells that are responsible for the body's energy supply.
In the new study, three statin drugs - fluvastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin - interfered with the body's energy production, and the problem was magnified if the patient was also taking propanolol, a hypertensive. As a result, around 2.3 per cent of patients taking a statin stop their medication.
But scientists at Harvard have discovered the worst effects can be countered either by drinking green tea or taking a coenzyme Q10 supplement. Green tea contains a substance known as deoxysappanone, which seems to have a beneficial effect on mitochondria, reducing the levels of toxic free radicals, and boosting activity and increasing energy production.
The coenzyme Q10 is another successful antidote to statin side effects and mitochondrial damage. It's a naturally-occurring nutrient that can be found in fish and meat. It can also be taken as a supplement.
(Source: Nature Biotechnology, 2008; 26: 343-51).