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Condition - Red yeast rice may suit the statin-intolerant

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT

Chinese red yeast rice contains monacolins, unsaturated fatty acids and phytosterols. It is widely used in the natural health industry to help lower LDL cholesterol levels but, until recently, there were very few published reports on its use in clinical practice or in statin-intolerant patients.

Now, a new retrospective observational study from a team of researchers at the University of Connecticut provides compelling evidence of both the LDL-lowering effects of red yeast rice therapy and its suitability for patients intolerant to lipid-lowering medications.

The study analysed blood lipid data from 25 patients who had been taking red yeast rice preparations for four weeks or more. Many had experienced adverse reactions to previously used lipid-lowering agents including myalgias (68%), gastrointestinal intolerance (16%), and elevated liver enzyme levels (eight%).

The data from the patients showed that red yeast rice was associated with a 15% reduction in total cholesterol and a 21% reduction in LDL. In the patients unable to tolerate daily statin use, the total cholesterol level decreased by 13% and LDL cholesterol decreased by 19%. Overall, 92% of patients tolerated the treatment, and 56% achieved their LDL cholesterol goal.

In conclusion to the study, the researchers wrote: “Red yeast rice modestly decreased total and LDL cholesterol, was well-tolerated, and was an acceptable alternative in patients intolerant of other lipid-lowering medications.”  

Article References

Venero, CV et al. (2010) Lipid–lowering efficacy of red yeast rice in a population intolerant to statins. The American Journal of Cardiology. 1;105(5):664–6.

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