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Red Yeast Rice May Lower Cholesterol

A study published in the June 2009 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that red yeast rice may lower cholesterol levels or people with dysipidemia (high cholesterol) that are intolerant to traditional statin therapy.


Red yeast rice is an herbal supplement made by fermenting a type of red yeast called Monascus purpureus over rice.  It is used in traditional Chinese medicine for poor circulation, indigestion, and diarrhea.


Dyslipidemia is a disorder of lipoprotein metabolism that is typically manifested by an increase in bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol.


US researchers recruited 62 patients with dyslipidemia and a history of discontinuation of statin therapy due to statin-associated myalgia (muscle pain) for the randomized controlled trial.


The participants were randomly assigned to receive either 1800 mg of red rice twice daily or a placebo for 24 weeks.


All of the participants were also assigned to take part in a 12 week therapeutic lifestyle change program.


After 12 weeks, the participants in the red yeast rice program saw a 43 mg/dL decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an additional 35 mg/dL decrease at week 24.


The placebo group, on the other hand, only saw a decrease of 11 mg/dL at week 12 and a 15 mg/dL decrease at week 24.


The researchers noted that this was a small, short study and additional studies will be required to verify these findings.


The researchers have high hopes that additional studies will serve to verify that red yeast rice can be a great alternative for people with high cholesterol and an intolerance to statin drugs.

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