Q. About six years ago I had trouble with statin cholesterol-lowering drugs. My muscles and joints got very sore. Then a friend suggested red yeast rice. The results were amazing.
At that time my doctor required a lab test for cholesterol every six months. He was amazed to learn I was using red yeast rice instead of Lipitor. My cholesterol had dropped from 270 to 178. My LDL, HDL and triglycerides were all in the desirable range.
A. Red yeast rice has been used for centuries in China to flavor, color and help preserve food. It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote circulation.
Red yeast rice contains natural compounds related to the statins in cholesterol-lowering drugs such as lovastatin. A 5,000-person study in China demonstrated that taking red yeast rice can cut the risk of a second heart attack nearly in half (American Journal of Cardiology, June 15, 2008). It also cut the need for angioplasty or stents by a third.
The researchers say subjects experienced only mild side effects, including digestive upset and temporary liver enzyme elevation. No one should take red yeast rice without medical supervision, though. Some people who are susceptible to muscle pain when they take statins may also experience this problem when they take red yeast rice.
We are sending you our new Guide to Heart Health & Cholesterol with more information about red yeast rice and other non-drug approaches to lowering cholesterol.