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Bile Acid Resins Cholesterol Thieves

It sometimes happens that a key to solving some problem can be found in rather unexpected and unpredictable place. However, such unpredictability is often superficial, and there is a whole complex of very accurate science behind it. For example, lowering high cholesterol level can be performed not only by blocking its production in the liver, but also by blocking… bile in the intestines. Isn’t it a wonder? No, it is not, and the reasons are to be discussed below.

It is known that bile acid is necessary for a body to digest certain types of foods. It is produced in the liver, and then it travels to the intestines where it participates in the process of digestion. After that, part of bile acid, which was not used for food digestion, is reabsorbed by the body for future use.

However, there is one more aspect on bile acid, which is not so widely known. The fact is that bile acid is made of bad cholesterol. And here an opportunity to use this fact as the way of cholesterol lowering arises. Scientists made use of this bile acid feature and designed special medications, called bile acid resins or binders; among which one of the most commonly used is WelChol from Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

So, how do bile acid resins work to reduce blood cholesterol? In fact, the process is quite easy. After oral administration bile acid resins travel to human digestive system, namely intestines, where they bind or attach to the bile acids. As the result the bile acids cannot be reabsorbed by the body and instead they are eliminated out of the body in a natural way. However, the body needs bile acid. So, what does it do in this situation? – It starts producing bile acid using the cholesterol from the blood. As the result the amount of cholesterol in blood reduces.

What is important to emphasize about bile acid resins, such as WelChol, is that these medications are not systemic: that means that they are not absorbed into human blood, so they do not affect other organs of human organism such as liver, arteries or kidneys.

However, at the same time WelChol and other bile acid resins may cause side effects, which sometimes could be quite serious. The most common negative impact of WelChol is constipation. Besides, heartburn, bloated feeling, gas and indigestion may also accompany bile acid resins therapy.

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Of course, for the time being bile acid resins cannot compete with statin drugs, which are considered to be the most up-to-date solutions of cholesterol problem. Besides, some experts (for example, Dr. Mason Freeman, the author of “The Harvard Medical School Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol” book) say that nowadays bile acid resins received a successor Zetia (ezetemibe), which has much fewer side effects.

Anyway, WelChol and other bile acid resins still in use to lower cholesterol. WelChol can be taken either with or without any other cholesterol reducers. Very often, WelChol is prescribed along with statins to increase the effectiveness of cholesterol management. Besides, it should always be kept in mind, that no cholesterol lowering medication can provide successful treatment without certain lifestyle changes, like following a healthy diet and exercising a lot.  


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