Thursday, 14 April 2016




Billy is one of my heroes.  Here’s why - -

My rural home is heated using gas that comes in very large cylinders -  cylinders that are delivered by Billy with his wagon. 

When, four years ago, I was virtually snowed in, Billy got through with my gas – hence the ‘hero’.

I am 90, live alone, and appreciate people such a Billy in my life – he ensures that I get my gas at the best price – and he cares

We don’t have much time to talk – just a few minutes as my cylinders are changed – but long enough for back-chat and laughter – plenty of that.

However, on his most recent delivery, the laughter was in somewhat short supply.  In reply to my query, he said, “I have been diagnosed with depression – I’m on anti-depressants (naming a drug with notorious side-effects) – my GP tells me that I shall have to be on them for the rest of my life.”

My anger rent the air with language that echoed my time on the lower deck of a naval destroyer in WW 2, and anger stoked by recollection of how my earlier life had been wrecked as the result of a depression created by completely unnecessary medication.

“And what else are you ‘on’?”….

“Statins”, he said.

There was just time to dash into the house and get for him a list of Statins side effects that I had downloaded from the Internet, before he had to drive off to his next cylinder drop.

Four days later, he phoned me – and the laughter came bubbling out of the phone, and a voice that had its old familiar ring and ebullience.

“That List” -  he said – “That list – I read it as soon as a I got home.

I have not taken another single Statin!”

“My neck and shoulder don’t ache any more – my feet aren’t tender, so I don’t hobble around like a man with gout - I sleep like a baby…..”

He, obviously, didn’t have to tell me anything about the ‘depression’.

His repeated “Thank you – thank you…! “  said it all.


When my friend Peter saw the list, he looked very serious, but didn’t say very much.  Soon, I learned that he also had immediately stopped taking statins.  As an alternative, Peter’s wife, Patricia, bought a natural product – a composition of hawthorn and garlic - which he now takes regularly.  Peter is 70, a dairy-farmer, milking twice a day, and never misses a milking.

When I spoke to Patricia very recently, she told me that Peter had recognised almost every side-effect on the list – but is now clear of them all.  I see them both regularly when they visit me, when the conversation is very wide ranging, and does not reflect the 225+ years that we share.  From Patricia, I obtained details of the hawthorn/garlic product to pass on to Billy.

As for myself – I first learned of the properties and benefits of hawthorn when I acquired a most delightful book named Grandmother’s Secrets.  Written by Jean Paleiseul, and translated and published as a Penguin Handbook, and now long out of print, it has provided me with both valuable information and reading pleasure for thirty years.

When I read of hawthorn, and its beneficial properties relating to the heart and circulation, I immediately decided to include it my daily ‘self-protection’ regime, buying it in tincture form from The Herb Company based in Ballindalloch, Banffshire.  Additionally, it induces tranquillity and relaxation, which, for me makes redundant any other form of ‘tranquilliser’.

The health protection properties of garlic have been well known and documented since the days of Ancient Egypt, and do not need any eulogy from me.

Read about them both on the Internet, where there is a wealth of information. 

There is also a considerable amount written about statins.  To write about them and their potential harmful effects would take me into the realm of medical politics, and as that is not my destination, I shall conclude with a list of side effects and some comments that I downloaded.



Gout and/or elevated uric acid.

Peripheral neuropathy.
Loss of libido.
Heart palpitations or arrhythmias.

Memory loss – short or long-term.

Transient global amnesia.
Chest pain.
Neck and shoulder pain.
Migraine headaches.
Digestive disorders.

Trouble walking – either shuffling or balance.

Hand tremors.

Slurred speech or trouble finding the right word.

Sciatica-like pain.

" The problem with many of these symptoms is that, if you tell your doctor, he is likely to dismiss them with the comment: "You are getting older; what do you expect."  Doctors, it seems, refuse to believe that such 'safe' drugs as Statins could possibly have any side effects.   Because of this, these effects, which are frequently due to Statins, are not recorded as side effects.
This is why, if you look on the Internet for adverse effects of Statins, you will probably be 'reliably informed' that there are very few side effects; and that 'Statins are very safe'.  You need to know that this is untrue. "