By Marlena Medford
After 16 years in the medical device and research world, Solana Beach resident David McMahon is a bona fide numbers guy who stays steeped in black-and-white scientific data. So, he might not be the first person you’d expect would turn to an all-natural health remedy — but when his cholesterol levels crept dangerously high, that’s precisely where his research led him.
McMahon is now an advocate of Cardiol, an FDA-registered natural alternative to the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat high cholesterol. Through his newly launched company Solana Health, McMahon is aiming to educate more people about this alternative, which he said has changed his life in a big way.
McMahon, like many Americans, has long battled high cholesterol. He was able to keep it in check through proper diet and exercise, that is, until he turned 40. Instead of handing him a prescription, his doctor recommended he begin an all-natural regimen of omega-3 fatty acids and red yeast rice with a supplement of CoQ 10. Red yeast rice is an extract from a fungus that naturally occurs, and pharmaceutical companies have synthesized it to develop a class of drugs called Statin, which are now used to lower cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish varieties like sardines and herring, have several health benefits — including raising HDL cholesterol, known as the “good cholesterol,” and decreasing triglycerides, which have been linked to heart attacks.
Staying true to his data-driven roots, McMahon went home and started researching the red yeast rice and omega-3 fatty acid regimen his doctor had recommended.
“The big clincher for me was a 2008 study by the Mayo Clinic,” he explained. The 12-week study compared two groups of patients with high cholesterol, one used Statin drugs and the other used red-yeast rice and omega-3 fatty acids. Ultimately, he said, the study concluded that both groups saw their cholesterol levels drop about 40 percent — but those taking red yeast rice needed a much smaller quantity to achieve the same result. McMahon said he also read studies that showed it was not uncommon for Statin drug users to report severe muscle pain as a side effect, though that was not the case for those who took red yeast rice.
“That was it, the data won me over,” McMahon said.
He took his doctor’s advice and started the all-natural regimen and sure enough, his cholesterol went down 20 percent within weeks. But there was still one problem:
“I was taking six pills a day and spending $80 a month to keep it up,” he said. “I figured there has to be an ‘all-in-one’ pill for this.”
So he began searching online and discovered Cardiol, which is produced in Italy and has been selling in Europe for years. Unlike the U.S., Europe highly regulates its natural supplements and has high standards. But because Cardiol is produced in Italy, McMahon discovered it would be tricky to have it shipped to the U.S. because of government regulations. McMahon has since gotten Cardiol registered with the FDA and has exclusive rights to distribute throughout North America. He now sells it for $40 a month (or $35 a month if bought in bulk) through his company Solana Health. McMahon has also been taking Cardiol for a couple of months, and said since then, his cholesterol levels have stayed low and his "good cholesterol" levels have gone up about 33 percent, and he’s seen a drop in his triglycerides.