Red rice yeast reduces cholesterol
levels because it contains, among many other chemicals, one of the statin
drugs. (The statin drugs, the most effective cholesterol-lowering agents used
in medicine today, were originally derived from yeast products.) Red rice yeast
just happens to contain one of the most popular statin drugs on the market
today – lovastatin.
In fact, when red rice yeast was found to
contain lovastatin, the FDA moved to make red rice yeast (often sold as
Cholesterin in earlier times) a regulable drug, and thus remove it from the
unregulated shelves of the health food store.
But in the Dietary Supplement Health and
Education Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-417), Congress saw fit to remove all
“dietary supplements” from under the auspices of the FDA. Manufacturers of
dietary supplements since that time have been free to make whatever claims they
choose to make about their multitude of products, apparently without needing
See All LifeSource Vitamins Red Yeast Rice Products, Articles, and Studies: Click Here
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Are you taking a cholesterol prescription? Crestor or Lipitor? Read on....
The following studies suggest that red yeast
rice significantly reduces high cholesterol:
Recently, the UCLA School of Medicine
conducted a study involving 83 people with high cholesterol levels. Those who
received red yeast rice over a 12-week period experienced a significant
reduction in total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and
triglycerides (fatty substances that can also accumulate in the bloodstream
and cause damage to blood vessels) compared to those who received a placebo. HDL
("good") cholesterol did not change in either group during the study.
Two studies involving red yeast rice were
presented at the American Heart Association's 39th Annual conference in 1999.
The first study, involving 187 people with mild to moderate elevations in total
cholesterol and LDL cholesterol revealed that treatment with red yeast rice
reduced total cholesterol by more than 16%, LDL cholesterol by 21%, and triglycerides
by 24%. HDL cholesterol also increased by 14%. In the second study, elderly
participants who were given red yeast rice experienced significant reductions
in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol compared to those who received a placebo. Both studies treated the participants with the supplement or placebo
for 8 weeks.
In another 8-week trial involving 446 people
with high cholesterol levels, those who received red yeast rice experienced a significant drop in cholesterol levels compared to those who received a placebo.
Total cholesterol fell by 22.7%, LDL by 31%, and triglycerides by 34% in the
red yeast rice group. HDL cholesterol increased by 20% in the red yeast rice
group as well.
Red yeast rice is made by fermenting rice with
a strain of red yeast called Monascus purpureus. The extract is a source of a
number of compounds known as statins - the compounds largely held responsible
for reducing cholesterol levels. It appears to accomplish this by blocking a
key enzyme in the liver. As such, red yeast rice gained recognition in the
United States as a cholesterol-lowering agent. However, in 2001 red yeast rice
extract, a "natural" unregulated nutritional supplement was withdrawn
by the FDA when it was determined that red yeast rice supplements were too similar
in chemical structure to the strictly regulated prescription statin known as
Red yeast rice benefit - animal studies
Researchers have studied the tong-term effects
of red yeast rice extract on serum lipids and the severity of atherosclerosis in
rabbits. In the study, the researchers fed the rabbit with the extract together
with 0.25% cholesterol for 200 days. They found 25% and 40% reductions in total
cholesterol with respect to doses of 0.4 and 1.35 g/kg/day of the red yeast
rice. They also observed a reduction of serum LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and atherosclerotic index. 
Red yeast rice benefit - clinical studies
There are a few clinical studies about the
beneficial effect of red yeast rice on cholesterol levels. Most of the subjects
are either patients who suffered from hyperlipidemia or coronary artery disease.
All studies reviewed show the efficacy of red yeast rice on
cholesterol-lowering. To simplify this report, I
summarized the results of the "most recent studies".
A recent clinical study has demonstrated that ingestion of a red yeast rice
extract (Xuezhikang) led to rapid reduction of C-reactive protein levels within
24 h and lipid profile within 2 weeks. In the study, they randomly assigned 48
consecutive patients with stable angina to 1200 or 2400 mg/day of a red yeast
rice extract (Xuezhikang). They found that the red yeast rice extract
Xuezhikang reduced total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
cholesterol, median plasma C-reactive protein levels and in mean plasma C-reactive
protein levels significantly. AThe higher dose of the red yeast rice extract
Xuezhikang (2400 mg/day) resulted in significantly greater reductions in total
cholesterol TC and low-density lipoprotein LDL cholesterol compared with 1200
mg/day group (p<0.05, p<0.01, respectively.
While they observed a
less reduction in triglycerides (TG) levels and no significant difference in
mean high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels compared with baseline.
A recent study of 62 people who stopped taking statins because of side effects
reported a significant cholesterol-lowering effect of a commercially available
nonprescription red yeast rice product. The average drop in cholesterol was 43 points
at 12 weeks. The participants took three 600-milligram vials of red yeast rice
twice a day. Each vial had only one milligram of lovastatin, so they took about
6 mg a day. The participants also followed a lifestyle change program,
including education on nutrition, exercise and relaxation techniques. [AA1]
In another study of patients with coronary heart disease at a dose of 1200 mg/d
for 6 weeks, researchers also observed the reduction of lipid levels and
improvement of inflammation after the administration of the red yeast rice
Hyperlipidemia is a well-known risk factor for atherosclerosis and statins are
widely used to treat patients with elevated levels of lipids in their plasma.
Notwithstanding the proven benefits of statin drugs on both primary and
secondary prevention of heart disease, the high cost of statin treatment, in
addition to possible side effects such as liver function abnormalities, may
limit their widespread use. We conducted a study on a natural product as an
alternative to statin treatment. Cholestin, a dietary supplement, is prepared
from rice fermented with red yeast (Monascus purpureus), which has been shown
to significantly decrease total cholesterol levels in hyperlipidemic subjects.
Our objective was to determine the cellular effect of Cholestin on cholesterol
synthesis in human hepatic cells (HepG2) and the mechanism by which it caused a
change in lipid metabolism.
A red yeast extract was found to have a direct inhibitory effect on HMG-CoA
reductase activity (78-69% of control). In the study, researchers found this
red yeast extract (25-100 microg/mL) were significantly reduced cholesterol
levels in human hepatic cells HepG2in a dose-dependent manner (81-45% of
control, respectively). They found and association of this reduction with the
decreased synthesis and secretion of both un-esterified cholesterol (54-31 and
33-14% of control, respectively) and cholesteryl ester (18-6 and 37-19% of
control, respectively). Thus, one of the anti-hyperlipidemic actions of the red
yeast rice in the study was a consequence of an inhibitory effect on
cholesterol biosynthesis in hepatic
LifeSource Vitamins - Organic Red Yeast Rice with CoQ10 60
VCaps, extracts are by far the most effective natural supplements available to
help lower cholesterol naturally and safely, enhanced with the addition of
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Reference  Herbs for serum cholesterol reduction: a systematic view. J Fam Pract. 2003 Jun;52(6):468-78.  Patrick L and Uzick M Cardiovascular disease: C-reactive protein and the inflammatory disease paradigm: HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, alpha-tocopherol, red yeast rice, and olive oil polyphenols. A review of the literature.
Altern Med Rev. 2001 Jun;6 (3):248-71.  Herbs and atherosclerosis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2001 Jan;3(1):93-6.  Yang HT et al, Acute administration of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) depletes tissue coenzyme Q(10) levels in ICR mice. Br J Nutr. 2005
Jan;93(1):131-5.  Li JJ et al, Effects of xuezhikang, an extract of
cholestin, on lipid profile and C-reactive protein: a short-term time course study in patients with stable angina. Clin Chim Acta. 2005 Feb;352(1-2):217-24.  Smith DJ and Olive KE Chinese red rice-induced myopathy. South Med J. 2003 Dec;96(12):1265-7.  Wei W et al, Hypolipidemic and anti-atherogenic effects of long-term Cholestin (Monascus purpureus-fermented rice, red yeast rice) in cholesterol-fed rabbits. J Nutr Biochem. 2003 Jun;14(6):314-8.  Zhao SP et al, Xuezhikang, an extract of cholestin, protects endothelial function through antiinflammatory and lipid-lowering mechanisms in patients with coronary heart disease. Circulation. 2004 Aug 24;110(8):915-20. Epub 2004 Aug 16.  Man RY et al, Cholestin inhibits cholesterol synthesis and secretion in hepatic cells (HepG2). Mol Cell Biochem. 2002 Apr;233(1-2):153-8. [AA1] A Substitute for Those Who
Can't Take Statins? HealthDay Mon Jun 15, 2009 [AA2] Fish Oil, Red Yeast Rice Cut Cholesterol WebMed July 23, 2008 [AA3] Grieco A, Miele L, Pompili M, Biolato M, Vecchio FM, Grattagliano I, Gasbarrini G.Acute hepatitis caused by a natural lipid-lowering product: when "alternative" medicine is no "alternative" at all J Hepatol. 2009 Jun;50(6):1273-7. Epub 2009 Mar 31 [AA4] Prasad GV, Wong T, Meliton G, Bhaloo S. Rhabdomyolysis due to red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) in a renal transplant recipient.Transplantation. 2002 Oct 27;74(8):1200-1