Friday, May 07, 2010

MORE EVIDENCE ON NUTRICEUTICALS - BERBERINE, RED YEAST RICE AND POLICOSANOL

At the recent meeting in Prague, the EuroPrevent 2010, a group of Italian workers led by Dr Valentine Mercurio ( University of Naples Federico II School of Medicine ), presented a poster presentation on the use of the combo nutriceuticals in lowering cholesterol and also improved circulation and insulin resisitance. The nutriceuticals used is a combo pill of berberine 500mg, red yeast rice 200mg and policosanol 10mg. Berberine is a quaternary ammonium salt, found in Berberis, goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and Chinese goldthread (Coptis chinensis). Red yeast rice is a red fermented rice, also known as red Koji rice or anka. Policosanol is a mixture of aliphatic alcohols derived from the waxes of plants such as sugarcane or yams or from beeswax. These were popular concoctions used in herbal, traditional Chinese treatment in the good old days for diabetes and heart disease.
The investigators tested these combo nutriceutical pill against placebo in 50 patients with hypercholesterolemia. After 6 weeks of therapy, they measured the cholesterol and LDL -C levels. They also made some other measurements including their triglyceride levels and their brachial artery flow parameters. They found that after 6 weeks of therapy, the treated group had significantly lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL-C. The rductions achieved were as good as standard statin therapy. They also found a significant increase in brachial artery flow and significantly lower triglyceride levels. All in all the results were very acceptable. Whatmore, there were supposedly no adverse reaction. All tolerated the therapy well. There were no dropouts.
I was very happy to note that there are more clinical evidence for the efficacy of traditional herbs and their effective role in treatment of dyslipidemia. What with no apparent adverse reactions. I suppose it is too early to tell as the sample was small. But it is heartening to know.
I must say that there are more and more of my patients turning to red yeast rice. Just this week, one of my statin intolerant patient, whom I had switched to ezetimide, came back to report to me that ezetimide was too expensive and that his friends had recommended red yeats rice. He came with a lipid profile and the parameters were all better. He also denied any adverse reactions.
Looks like there is some good in traditional herbs afterall.