Brand names of cholestyramine

  • Novo-Cholamine
  • PMS-Cholestyramine
  • Prevalite
  • Questran
  • Questran Light

Cholestyramine is a prescription drug that helps to lower the cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and, at the same time, eases the tingling sensation related to liver ailment. This medication is taken orally. While our body makes cholesterol, it is also ingested through the foods we consume. Irrespective of its origin, all cholesterol in our bloodstream is got rid of from the body mainly following its conversion into bile acids in the liver as well as flow along with bile into the intestine. When the bile goes into the intestine, most of the bile acids are again taken up by the bloodstream from there. The liver eliminates most of the bile acids reabsorbed by the liver from the bloodstream and again secreted into bile. Consequently, bile acids are circulated throughout the body once again.

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In the intestine, cholestyramine attaches itself to the bile acids and this puts off the body from absorbing it. Eventually, the insoluble complexes produced following the combination of cholestyramine and bile acids are got rid of the body through the stool; thus, the body is relieved of the bile acids. In order to balance the loss of bile acids, the liver converts more cholesterol into bile acids and this ultimately lessens the level of cholesterol in the body resulting in a decline in the intensity of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Itching is one major problem that troubles patients suffering from liver as well as biliary disease. In a number of cases, this itching sensation is thought to a fall-out of the build-up of bile acids in the skin owing to the liver or the bile ducts' lack of ability to get rid of the bile acids in the usual process. However, when cholestyramine attaches itself to the bile acids in the intestines and thwarts their absorption by the body, it facilitates the process of eliminating bile acids from the body as well as the skin and, as a result, there is an improvement in the itching sensation. In addition to binding to bile acids, cholestyramine also attaches to a number of other medications in the intestine, putting off their absorption by the body and also accelerating the process of their elimination from the body through the stool. Hence, cholestyramine is effective in a number of situations wherein people have taken an overdose of different drugs. Cholestyramine was approved for sale and general use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 1973.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking cholestyramine

As in the instance of starting treatment with any new drug, before you take cholestyramine, it is essential to tell a number of things to your physician or pharmacist. First and foremost, you need to tell them if you have any allergic reactions on taking cholestyramine, any of its ingredients or any other type of allergy. This medication is likely to enclose a number of inactive elements that may have the aptitude to result in allergies or additional problems. Hence, if you are not sure about the ingredients of cholestyramine, you should ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list for the same.

People suffering from specific health conditions should not take this medication. Therefore, prior to starting treatment with cholestyramine you need to tell your physician regarding your entire medical history, particularly if you are suffering from any kidney ailment, constipation and/ or hemorrhoids. A number of products may have elements like sugar or aspartame. Therefore, it is advised that people enduring phenylketonuria (PKU), diabetes or any other health condition requiring food restrictions, should keep off these substances in their diet. It is advisable that you consult your physician or pharmacist regarding the safe use of cholestyramine.

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Cholestyramine has the potential to interact with the absorption of specific nutrients, for instance, vitamins that dissolve in fatty substances like vitamins A, D, E and K and folic acid, it is likely that your physician will ask you to take an additional multivitamin supplement. Talk to your physician for detailed information in this regard.

In case you require undergoing a surgery or dental operation, you should tell your surgeon/ dentist beforehand that you are already taking cholestyramine. In fact, you should also tell them about all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products and dietary supplements being taken by you.

Aged people taking cholestyramine should be more cautious, as they are likely to be more susceptible to the side effects of this medication, particularly constipation. Pregnant women should be given cholestyramine only when it is absolutely essential for their condition. In fact, cholestyramine is likely to have an effect on the absorption of specific nutrients. Therefore, it is advisable that they should consult their physician regarding the benefits and perils of taking this drug during pregnancy.

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Although cholestyramine is not likely to pass onto breast milk, it will probably have an effect on the absorption of specific nutrients. Hence, new mothers should check out with their physician prior to breast-feeding.


Cholestyramine is prescribed for people whose bloodstream contains high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), also known as 'bad cholesterol'. This medication forms a part of a complete treatment plan for lowering cholesterol levels, which also includes taking special diet and undertaking regular work-outs. In addition, cholestyramine is also used to ease itching, a main problem endured by people suffering from liver and bile-related ailments and related to the congestion of the bile ducts. Your physician may also prescribe cholestyramine to avoid developing specific types of diarrhea.

How to use cholestyramine

Cholestyramine is available in powder form and it should be taken orally, generally once or twice every day. This dosage of this powdered medication should be measured by the scoopful making use of the scoop provided with the product, or you may also use separate dose packets. It is advisable that you should never take the medication in the dry powdered form itself, but blend it in no less than two to six ounces (60 ml to 180 ml) of any liquid like water, fruit juice and milk. Stir the mixture thoroughly and drink it immediately. There may be some medicine left in the glass even after you drink its whole content. Therefore, wash the glass with some more liquid and drink the rinse liquid to make sure that you have taken the complete dose of the medication. Alternately, you may also take cholestyramine by mixing it with applesauce, watery soups or any pulpy fruit that contains plenty of juice - for instance, crushed peaches, pineapple and others.

The dosage of cholestyramine is largely dependent on the patient's medical condition as well as his/ her response to the therapy. It is possible that your physician may ask you to start taking cholestyramine with a small dose and increase the dosage gradually. It is important that you follow the instructions of your physician carefully. The benefits of using this drug are not evident immediately, but it may take many weeks before you get the complete benefits of using cholestyramine.

Here is a word of caution: never keep the liquid cholestyramine in your mouth for a long period for this can cause harm to your teeth. In addition, it is necessary for people taking this medication to practice healthy dental habits like brushing as well as flossing the teeth frequently.

It is worth mentioning here that the use of cholestyramine is likely to reduce the absorption of other medications by your body. Hence, it is advisable that if you are also taking other medications, they should be taken no less than an hour before or at least 4 hours to 6 hours after taking cholestyramine. You may talk to your physician if you have any queries in this regard and also for further information on the proper use of this medication.

In order to obtain the utmost benefits of using cholestyramine, you need to take it on a regular basis. Besides, you need to take this medicine at the same time(s) every day as it will help you not to miss any dose of the medication. Even if you start feeling better after taking cholestyramine for some time, you should continue taking the medication for the complete regimen. It may be noted that majority of people having high blood cholesterol levels usually do not have a sickly feeling.

How cholestyramine works

The cholesterol-lowering drug cholestyramine works by attaching itself with bile acids in the intestine and producing a complex compound that does not dissolve in fatty substances and is eliminated in the feces. The formation of insoluble cholestyramine-bile acids complexes helps to lower the intensity of bile acids in the bloodstream. As the level of bile acids is reduced, the liver is engaged in converting more cholesterol into bile acids. As a result, there is a drop in the level of low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol) in the liver cells, enabling the liver to produce additional LDL receptors. This eventually results in the elimination of LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, reducing its intensity in the body.

Side effects

  • severe abdominal pain
Less common:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Findings of a number of scientific studies have revealed that garlic is a useful herb in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Perhaps because garlic has a dissimilar method of working compared to cholestyramine, the use of this herb along with cholestyramine may prove to be practical in lowering cholesterol provided the dosage of the two are separate. However, it is advisable that you talk to your physician before using garlic in combination with cholestyramine to lower cholesterol levels in your body. In addition to garlic, even soy milk may possibly provide some help in lowering the blood cholesterol levels. The therapy used to lower cholesterol at present, actually decides on a objective for treatment, and the herbs mentioned here may help to attain the goal when they are used in conjunction with cholestyramine.
In addition you may also seek the advice of your physician regarding the requirement of taking dietary vitamin supplements containing vitamin A, D, E and K, niacin, folic acid and calcium.
People undergoing treatment with cholestyramine should keep away from foods that have a tendency to give rise to constipation, for example, cheese and related foods. At the same time, it is essential to strictly follow the diet recommended by your physician.
People with high levels of blood cholesterol and taking cholestyramine should stay away from carbonated beverages.


If you are taking any other medication that is potentially toxic, it ought to be reduced suitably when you stop taking cholestyramine.

Storage instructions

Cholestyramine should always be stored at room temperature and in a dark and dry place. You should see the packaging of the product to find the precise temperature range at which this medication should be stored. It may be noted that at times the color of cholestyramine powder may differ. As this is quite usual, it will not have any effect on the functioning of the drug. In case you have any queries regarding the storage of this medication, it is advisable that you seek the advice of your physician. Moreover, never store this drug in your bathroom, which is mostly damp. It is advisable that you keep all your medications in a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets.

Unless advised otherwise, never discard any medication that has become outdated or is needed no longer by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain. Always dispose of such medications in an appropriate and safe manner. You may talk to your pharmacist or any neighbourhood waste disposal company for further details in this regard.


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