High cholesterol is not a condition that needs to be treated. It is a SYMPTOM.
Our bodies produce cholesterol because it is NECESSARY. One of the many functions of the liver is essentially a cholesterol production and recycling plant.
Our cells are constructed largely of cholesterol. The brain is constructed largely of cholesterol. Myelin (the protective sheathing surrounding neurons) is constructed largely of cholesterol. So it stands to reason that if you deplete your body of cholesterol, all of these structures are at risk. Cholesterol is also essential for the production of hormones.
Our bodies use sunlight to convert cholesterol into vitamin D, which research is increasingly showing, is essential to proper immune function, as well as for the production of serotonin.
The immune system requires cholesterol to function properly. Even if your T-cell count is normal, T-cells cannot function properly to fight off illness and infection without adequate amounts of cholesterol.
Our bodies will respond to severe injury and infection by producing more cholesterol in order to heal itself.
People taking statins or other drugs to lower cholesterol may reduce their risk of heart disease, but they GREATLY increase their risk of developing cancer, or contracting infection or other illness (among other problems).
Studies have been conducted by many of the world’s most highly respected medical institutions which have confirmed that a definitive correlation exists between low cholesterol levels and morbid depression or MDD (major depressive disorder). Search “suicide and low serum cholesterol”, and you will find an alarming number of articles by highly respected researchers and institutions.
If this connection has been so strongly supported, why would they continue to put patients on statins and other cholesterol lowering drugs? Presumably because, like many drugs designed to treat or maintain rather than cure illness (real or contrived), it is profitable to the pharmaceutical industry. There is little profit in curing illness.
Because our bodies rely on cholesterol to replace damaged cells and fight infection, long term illness or infection may deplete cholesterol levels, weakening the body’s ability to defend itself, which may result in further illness, leading to further cholesterol depletion. So low cholesterol becomes self-perpetuating.
Studies have shown that patients with low cholesterol are far more likely to contract infections, are shown to heal much more slowly, and have a drastically higher mortality rate than those who have higher, even what might be considered ‘unhealthy’ cholesterol levels.
I began studying this subject because my own 16-year-old daughter has suffered from an impaired immune system since she was about 3 or 4 years old, and in recent years, she’d begun to suffer from MDD (“Major Depressive Disorder”). I’ve taken her to numerous specialists, and no one so far has been able to figure out what’s wrong with her. They say that because her T-cell count is fine, her immune system is also fine. It is NOT fine, as numerous trips to the ER, chronic illnesses and infections, including at least one serious bout with pneumonia, and a positive TB test can attest.
About a year ago, I ordered a broad-spectrum blood panel on my daughter to see if there were any abnormalities that might explain it all. When the results came back, everything looked good, except that her cholesterol was extremely low (total cholesterol was 109). I pointed it out to her doctor, who laughed it off and told me “That’s a good thing! That means she can eat whatever she wants!”. I didn’t buy it.
Here’s where I had an issue: If extremely low cholesterol was universally a “good” thing. Why would there even be an area on the lower scale of the chart which categorized it as “abnormal”?
I went home and began doing research. A LOT of research. And to make sure that my research was not biased, I did not input or suggest any correlation between low cholesterol and any of my daughter’s existing conditions. What came up were dozens of articles documenting a definitive correlation between low cholesterol and morbid depression (the extreme variety, as my daughter has), as well as a definitive correlation between low cholesterol and patient mortality from infection or illness, including cancer (patients with low cholesterol have a 70% higher risk of developing cancer).
Current research seems not to have determined exactly what the correlation is. Which is “cause” and which is “effect”. Does depression cause low cholesterol, or vice versa? Does illness cause low cholesterol, or vice versa?
From my findings, it appears that low cholesterol can be self-perpetuating (infection ->cholesterol depletion -> weakened immune system -> more infection->). There may be no way to determine, in the case of my daughter’s immune deficiency, which is cause and which is effect. However, in the case of her depression, it is almost certainly low cholesterol which lead to her depression.
I showed her doctor numerous articles (by highly respected institutions) which supported my theory that her depression was caused by her low cholesterol (which, in turn, was likely caused by her years of chronic illness), he ignored my findings and continued to pressure me into giving her the antidepressants he had prescribed, despite my objections (which objections were based on family history of adverse reactions to antidepressants , as well as the fact that antidepressants are generally contraindicated in teens and young adults due to an increased propensity for psychosis and suicidal ideation or attempts) . Her doctor pushed the issue hard. Claiming that if I loved her, I would let her take the drug to stop her suffering, completely ignoring my concerns and warnings.
After the massive guilt trip heaped on me by her doctor, and my daughter’s begging me to let her try, I reluctantly started my daughter on Sertraline. After about a month, she said she was feeling better, but after a while she became impulsive and irrational (while on the drug she, at least three times, casually attempted to ingest dangerous and potentially lethal doses of medications and other toxins!) . There was also the issue that, if she missed her dose by as little as one hour , she would get migraine headaches and, what she described as ‘bzzz’ sensations throughout her body. There was also the incident when there was a lengthy (and apparently repeated) miscommunication between her prescribing doctor and the pharmacist, which led to my daughter not being able to get her prescription for over two weeks. For any who may not be aware, sudden withdrawal from antidepressants can lead to psychosis and even suicide. This was not an event I wished to repeat. Based on this, and the fact that the medication made her more of a danger to herself than the depression itself had, as well as all of the acute and permanent side effects listed on the product’s own website (!!!), I decided against prescription antidepressants. This despite her doctor and others pressuring me to keep her on drugs which include warnings that they may (and did, in my daughter’s case) cause suicidal thoughts and behavior in teens and young adults.
Based on the cholesterol -> vitamin D -> serotonin connection, I have started my daughter on vitamin D supplements in hopes that it will help her depression.
Though research has found that vitamin D has been shown to be effective in treating depression, it is too early at this point to determine how effective it will be in treating my daughter. I will also be putting her on other neuro-beneficial nutrients (including turmeric, an herbal anti-inflammatory which has also been shown to be effective in treating depression; possibly because, as an anti-inflammatory, it may help prevent cholesterol depletion. Note: turmeric is also believed to help prevent Alzheimer’s) as well as a diet high in healthy fats (especially Omega 3), in hopes that it will increase her HDL cholesterol to normal levels.
Certainly low cholesterol is not the only cause of depression, and there are many supplements and nutrients which may help. Always use caution when attempting to treat any medical condition you may have, and research thoroughly any supplement you may consider taking.
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Behrendtsen, Ole; Palagummi, Narisha M; Fiedorowicz, Jess G; Coryell, William H: “Cholesterol and Affective Morbidity” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pmc/articles/PMC2814906/
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Salamon, Maureen: “Are Low Cholesterol Levels Bad For Your Health?” http://cholesterol.about.com/ lw/Health-Medicine/Conditions- and-diseases/Can-Your- Cholesterol-Be-Too-Low-.htm