Red Yeast Rice Used to Lower Cholesterol

A natural alternative to statins – red yeast rice to lower cholesterol…

Did you know that red yeast rice lowers cholesterol as much as prescription statins — without dangerous side effects?

The Chinese have been using this safe, natural food product against heart problems and other ailments for more than 1,000 years, and now science backs up ancient wisdom. Studies in the U.S. and China show that red yeast rice can cut LDL (bad) cholesterol by 18-32% in just 8 weeks while rising or maintaining HDL (good) cholesterol. Red yeast rice to lower cholesterol

One recent study in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that by taking a daily dose of red yeast rice to lower cholesterol, heart attack patients in China were an impressive 45% less likely to suffer another heart attack within five years. Another recent clinical trial showed that red yeast rice lowered bad cholesterol as effectively as a prescription statin.

The active compound in red yeast rice is a byproduct of fermentation called mevinolin — the same chemical found in lovastatin, the original prescription statin!

In fact, mevinolin is so chemically similar to lovastatin that the FDA actually banned red yeast rice in 1998 on the grounds that it needed the same strict regulation as a prescription drug. Not surprisingly, pharmaceutical patents on statin drugs also influenced the controversial FDA ban.

Luckily, the ban was overturned, and red yeast rice is once again available to those who prefer a safe and effective natural alternative to drugs. Red yeast rice works basically the same way as prescription statins — by reducing cholesterol production in the liver.

But it doesn’t cause the same dangerous side effects associated with statins, like:

  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle damage
  • Severe rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown leading to potentially fatal kidney damage)
  • Memory loss
  • Prostate cancer
  • Neuropathy symptoms
  • Eye problems
  • Numbness
  • Tingling and pricking sensations
  • Burning pain (especially at night)
  • Sensitivity to touch

One of the most impressive studies of red yeast rice began when Dr. David Becker of the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine noticed something surprising — steep cholesterol drops in patients who weren’t on statins.

Studies Done on Red Yeast Rice used to Lower Cholesterol

Becker discovered they were taking a red yeast rice supplement, and that’s when he launched a randomized controlled trial. His findings were published in several medical journals from 2008 on, including the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine and Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Becker’s study followed 62 former statin patients who’d been taken off the drugs due to severe muscle pains. Everyone in the trial was given advice on nutrition and exercise, but only half were “prescribed” with 1,800 mg daily of red yeast rice supplement. The other half got a placebo.

After 12 weeks, the red yeast rice group’s LDL cholesterol plummeted by an astonishing 27%! That’s compared to a mere 6% drop in the placebo group. Red yeast rice cut bad cholesterol as much as the prescription statin Zocor.

Equally amazing, only 2 patients reported persistent muscle pains! Red yeast rice may not be side-effect free, but studies show it’s far milder than drugs. One 59-year-old in Becker’s red yeast rice group saw his total cholesterol plunge from 221 to 135. “I was very excited,” he told ABC News. “I was able to be off the statin drug that had been prescribed, which meant I could have a pain-free life.”

Becker does offer a few cautions. First, red yeast rice is not meant to be taken together with a prescription statin. Taking both at the same time could increase the risk of side effects. And there are some patients he’d never take off statin drugs, like those with advanced heart disease.

Quality is also an issue. Red yeast supplements aren’t standardized. You can buy it as a dried grain, a ground powder, or a pill, and you don’t know the amount of active ingredients you might be getting. Consumer Labs found as much as a hundred-fold difference from one brand to another in the amount of active ingredients.

A trusted health care provider may be able to give advice on which brands have better records. And your doctor may want to play it safe with red yeast rice and monitor your liver function along with your cholesterol levels, which are likely to drop significantly.

“I have to confess, I did not expect this degree of LDL lowering,” marveled Dr. Daniel Rader, lipid specialist and co-author of Becker’s study. “And there were many fewer side effects than expected.”