Red Yeast Rice Outperforms Statins in New Clinical Research

red yeast rice lowers cholesterol

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Cardiology researchers have now proven in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study that red yeast rice combined with lifestyle changes outperforms statins for reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.

The researchers conducted their clinical study with 187 patients at Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill Hospital. The patients had high cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels – an average of 154 mg/dL of LDL.

The patients were randomly divided into groups and tested for twelve weeks. One group underwent the typical conventional medicine advice – including prescriptive medications – statins. Another group was given 1,800 milligrams of red yeast rice, and another group was given the red yeast rice together with 900 milligrams of phytosterols in addition to making lifestyle changes.

How to Cleanse and Detox with your diet.

Before and after the twelve weeks, the researchers conducted cholesterol testing and found that the red yeast rice had reduced reduced triglyceride levels in the patients by 24%, reduced total cholesterol by 16%, reduced LDL by 21%, and. increased HDL-cholesterol by 14%.

And compared to the group given statin therapy, the red yeast group given lifestyle changes had 51 mg/dL lower levels of LDL-C compared to 42 mg/dL lower levels from statin therapy, and they were more than twice as likely to have dropped their LDL levels to under 100 mg/dL – often considered the demarcation between healthy and unhealthy levels.

The researchers then followed the patients over a year of the therapy. The group that took the red yeast rice together with lifestyle changes also lost an average of about five pounds, while the typical therapy group lost an average of less than one pound over the course of a year.

This research confirms another study done with 446 high-cholesterol patients. After eight weeks of red rice yeast therapy, LDL-c levels were reduced by 31%, triglycerides fell by 34% and HDL-c went up by 20%. Other studies have shown similar reductions.

What is Red Yeast Rice?
Red yeast rice is a traditional food and therapy that has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine. Red yeast rice is produced through the fermentation of a yeast, Monascus purpureus, combined with red rice.

Traditional Chinese healers used the red yeast rice to improve digestive conditions along with stimulating circulation of the blood and chi throughout the body.

Interestingly, red yeast rice also contains – among other constituents – phytochemicals called monacolins – whose molecular structure is similar to the molecule used in statin medications. The particular phytochemical in focus is called monacolin K, and it is similar to the drug lovastatin (Mevacor).

The difference is that red yeast rice – like other natural products – contains multiple monacolins along with a variety of other natural constituents which serve to buffer the effects of the monacolins. This does not mean that red yeast rice can render side effects – but its side effects are typically not as serious as statin side effects.

This fact has been confirmed by the fact that two clinical trials have tested patients who could not tolerate statin treatment. These patients did fine with the red yeast rice therapy, and had considerable reductions in bad cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.

Both statins and red yeast rice can produce headaches, heartburn, gas, bloating, muscle aches, and dizziness. In addition to these, statins can cause rashes, insomnia, diarrhea, and nausea.


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Becker DJ, Gordon RY, Halbert SC, French B, Morris PB, Rader DJ. Red yeast rice for dyslipidemia in statin-intolerant patients: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2009 Jun 16;150(12):830-9, W147-9.

Halbert SC, French B, Gordon RY, Farrar JT, Schmitz K, Morris PB, Thompson PD, Rader DJ, Becker DJ. Tolerability of red yeast rice (2,400 mg twice daily) versus pravastatin (20 mg twice daily) in patients with previous statin intolerance. Am J Cardiol. 2010 Jan 15;105(2):198-204. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.08.672.

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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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