Should You Take A Statin If You Have Hypothyroidism?

Should You Take A Statin If You Have Hypothyroidism?

If you have hypothyroidism and you’re thinking about taking a statin, hold on for just a minute. 

Is it true that most hypothyroid patients have high cholesterol? Yes

Does that mean they need to take cholesterol-lowering medications? Not necessarily. 

The truth is there are plenty of proven natural treatments that can help you lower your cholesterol and these treatments don’t carry with them the baggage of prescription medications. 

So if you have hypothyroidism, before you take a statin, try these 5 treatments first: 

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#1. T3 thyroid-Containing Medications

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The connection between thyroid hormone and cholesterol is clear: 

As thyroid hormone levels drop, you will see a corresponding increase in atherogenic cholesterol particles of the apo B family. 

For those unaware, these are the harmful particles (1) that increase your risk of heart disease. 

This occurs for a couple of reasons: 

The first is that the low thyroid state encourages an increase in cholesterol absorption in the intestinal tract. 

We will come back to this in just a minute because this mechanism provides a great target for certain supplements. 

The second is that hypothyroidism decreases the breakdown of fatty acids. 

This not only promotes weight gain, but also increases VLDL cholesterol. 

And third, a lack of thyroid hormone reduces the expression of LDL receptors in the liver (2) which further reduces cholesterol clearance. 

In other words, you end up with higher levels of cholesterol for longer periods of time. 

And the longer that cholesterol stays in your arteries, the more opportunity it has to cause damage to your heart. 

So what can you do? 

The answer is simple: take thyroid medication if you need it

Research shows that as long as you can increase thyroid hormone levels in the body, cholesterol levels will normalize. 

But this begs the question: 

Why do so many thyroid patients taking thyroid medications still have high cholesterol? What gives? 

The problem here has to do with the type of thyroid hormone that they are taking. 

About 90% of thyroid patients are taking a T4-only thyroid medication known as levothyroxine

And at least 20% of those people do not have sufficient thyroid hormone levels as a result. 

If your T4 and T3 levels do not increase with your thyroid medication, you will not receive their benefits on cholesterol. 

It’s that simple. 

This is where the use of T3 thyroid medication steps in. 

As a much more powerful thyroid hormone compared to T4, it can better normalize your free thyroid hormone levels which will then have a bigger impact on cholesterol. 

So if you are trying to lower your cholesterol and levothyroxine isn’t cutting it, try adding on some extra thyroid hormone in the form of liothyronine or cytomel. 

You can also try NDT medications like Armour Thyroid, Adthyza, and NP Thyroid because these also contain T3. 

T2 thyroid hormone has also shown promise in lowering LDL cholesterol in animals (3) so if you are having a hard time getting T3, you can try T2 instead

#2. Eat To Improve Your Thyroid

If you eat healthily and exercise regularly, you can expect your cholesterol level to drop by about 20-30% (4). 

This is a respectable amount, but I think we can do even better. 

Here’s how: 

When you think about diet, instead of thinking about what you can eat to lower cholesterol, I want you to think about what you can eat to improve your thyroid. 

Because the same diet that you need to improve your thyroid is also one that will improve your cholesterol. 

But the same can’t be said for diets that aim primarily to lower cholesterol. 

shop thyroid supplements for all thyroid patients

So eating for your thyroid allows you to double dip on these benefits. 

What does that look like? 

It means tweaking standard diets slightly to follow these guidelines: 

  1. Eat at least 100 grams of whole-food carbohydrates each day including fruits and fruit juices
  2. Consume at least 100 grams of protein each day, preferably at least 60 grams per day from animal sources
  3. Do not restrict your calories unless you are fasting
  4. Eat only whole foods and avoid ultra-processed foods like the plague
  5. Avoid artificial sweeteners completely and even natural sweeteners if possible
  6. Eat fish at least twice per week 
  7. If using cooking oil, opt for extra virgin olive oil but try to get most of your fat from whole foods like avocados, chia seeds, hemp hearts, and flax

Most people eat to either lose weight or lower their cholesterol but few eat to improve their thyroid. 

But because your thyroid regulates both your weight and cholesterol, when you eat for your thyroid, these problems automatically start to go away. 

#3. Take Glucomannan

I’m going to get technical here for a minute but it’s important: 

Earlier, I mentioned that people with hypothyroidism absorb more cholesterol. 

This happens because the hypothyroid state alters the function of a protein called Niemann Pick C1-Like1 (5). 

The more this protein is expressed, the more cholesterol you will absorb through your gut. 

This matters because most of the cholesterol in your body does not come from your food. 

But if you absorb more than you need, you will increase your risk of heart disease over time. 

We know this because we see that trend in people who are hyper absorbers of cholesterol due to genetic mutations in this protein. 

In the medical world, this problem is usually treated with a drug called ezetimibe which blocks cholesterol absorption. 

But if you are trying to avoid medications, which is the whole point of this video, there is another natural option that you can consider: 

And it’s called glucomannan. 

Glucomannan is a dietary viscous fiber that happens to work in a similar way by blocking the absorption of cholesterol. 

A meta-analysis of over 14 randomized controlled trials (6), showed that glucomannan significantly reduced LDL-c and triglycerides to the tune of about 10-15%. 

For perspective, statins lower cholesterol by about 30% (7), so this effect is not insignificant. 

On top of this, it also happens to positively impact blood sugar and insulin and may help with weight loss. 

This makes glucomannan an excellent choice if you have high cholesterol and if you wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds. 

For best results, I recommend combining glucomannan with L-glutamine and extra virgin olive oil.

You can see what I mean here.

#4. Try Berberine

Berberine is a very powerful plant-based compound that shouldn’t be ignored if you have high cholesterol. 

Doctors who are in the know will often recommend berberine for people who are unable to tolerate statins due to side effects. 

But there’s no reason it has to be a second-line treatment. 

A study of over 130 patients showed that taking berberine daily for 6 weeks caused a drop in triglycerides by 26% and a drop in LDL-C by 24% (8). 

While this is impressive, this benefit isn’t what makes berberine so special. 

Unlike prescription medications, which tend to target a specific pathway in the body, and usually only provide 1 or maybe 2 benefits, plant compounds have many effects and many benefits. 

And berberine is no exception to this rule. 

In addition to its cholesterol-lowering effects, berberine has also been proven to help with…

And it’s for these reasons that I think berberine makes a compelling case as a first-line treatment for high cholesterol in thyroid patients. 

It should not take the place of diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, but it can absolutely be used in conjunction with them. 

I personally take berberine every single day even though I don’t have any issues with cholesterol. 

I do it because it’s a weak activator of an enzyme called AMPK which has tons of documented downstream benefits. 

In this way, berberine can be used as a therapeutic tool but also as a preventative one as well. 

If you want to use berberine, opt for dihydroberberine instead of berberine hcl.

It’s roughly 5x more potent and, as a result, causes fewer side effects.

#5. Use Black Seed Oil

Black seed oil comes from the plant nigella sativa which is widely recognized as a highly therapeutic botanical in the Middle East. 

It contains powerful bioactive compounds in the form of thymoquinone (10), p-cymene, and carvacrol. 

These compounds have wonderful effects on multiple systems in the body including cholesterol. 

In a study of menopausal women, daily use of 1 gram of nigella sativa resulted in decreased total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, and increased HDL over 8 weeks (11). 

While it may not be as powerful as some of the other natural treatments we discussed, it should still be considered by thyroid patients for one big reason: 

According to a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, it may help reduce thyroid antibodies and improve thyroid function (12). 

This makes it an amazing option if you have the thyroid autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s. 

Not only does it have the potential to help lower cholesterol, it may also improve immune function while supporting the thyroid gland directly.

You can learn more about using and dosing black seed oil for thyroid patients here.

Final Thoughts 

When you look at these treatments individually, they may not seem that impressive. 

But when you start stacking them on top of each other, you should be able to profoundly impact your cholesterol. 

And if you can’t get your cholesterol under control, for whatever reason, then you can always start taking that statin. 

But given its potential side effect profile, I think the all-natural way is always your best first choice. 

If you have problems with cholesterol then there’s a high chance you may also have problems with your weight. 

And if that’s the case, you may want to check out my recommended natural weight loss supplements next

Scientific References

#1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7369156/

#2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6616443/

#3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22948212/

#4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1312230/

#5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3965667/

#6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002916523233353?via%3Dihub

#7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK395573/

#8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5575230/

#9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9482321/

#10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387230/

#11. https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1479-5876-12-82

#12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5112739/

don't take a statin if you have thyroid problems do this instead

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About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 7 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

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