Getting Older – Fun with Niacin

Fun with Niacin  As we age we begin to find more and more “things”.  One of mine is high cholesterol.  To lower my cholesterol, my doctor first tried statin drugs (Lipitor, Crestor, etc).  Not long after I began taking Lipitor, I began experiencing muscle and joint aches and had problems remembering things I needed to do.  They switched me to another statin, and no change.  We tried diet and exercise, and that had some positive effects, but didn’t bring it low enough.  The next option was to try Niacin or vitamin B3.


The brand name I wasNiacin Flush prescribed was Niaspan.  As with any drug, there are side effects.  With niacin, there is a release of histamine which causes a dilation of the blood vessels which causes a “flush”  Because of this flush,  I was to start off taking 500mg the first night, and gradually increase the dosage until I was taking 2000 mg.  This first night I started at 500 mg and no flush, so the next night I went up to 1000 mg, again, no flush.  So the third night I took 1500 mg.  About 2;30 AM, I woke up.  Now let me back up a second.  When they said I would experience a flush, I thought, okay I will feel warm all over, no biggie.  OMG!!! I could not have been more wrong.  At 2:30 AM, I was awakened to the sensation that someone had thrown a pot of boiling water on me!  I jumped out of bed like I was on fire because that’s how it felt.  I ran over to the bathroom sink and wet my head and face with cold water, and that helped.  I also grabbed a cold bottle of water and while I drank some, the biggest relief came by wiping it over my head, neck, and shoulders.  After about 20 minutes, the burning subsided, and I got probably one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in a while.  The next night there was no flushing.  I am told that it gets better in a week or two, but to expect another intense flush every so often.  As far as it lowering my cholesterol, time will tell, but I have read great things about niacin and it’s ability to do the job.  Stay tuned.

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