Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Red Yeast rice is sold over the counter ( OTC ), in many countries, including Malaysia and Singapore, as a traditional herbal treatment for dyslipidemia ( commonly called high cholesterol ). It is cheaper then " statins " and there is some evidence to show that it works like Lovastatin. There were some small studies which showed that it was helpful in people with "statin" intolerance.
The recent, 25th October, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, carried an article by Dr Ram Gordon, from the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, on an a piece of research that they have done on Red Yeast. They took 12 brands of Red Yeast, and send them to an independent chemist to find the composition. The chemist was blinded to the brands and told to analyse the compound.
They found that 60mgs of red yeast contain varying amounts of Monacolin K, which is the active ingredients. The concentration of Monacolin K, in red yeast could could vary by as much as 2-3 times, so that their effects become difficult to predict. They also found upon analysis, that red yeast also contain some bacteria, aspergillus, and penicillium, and even worse, contain some nephrotoxic substances, like citrinin. These may be contaminants from the manufacturing process, or may be from the yeast itself.
Looks like there is more in red yeast then Monacolin K ( lovastatin like ). The contaminants is cause for concern, and certainly the nephro-toxicity, is bad.
I would advise that physicians do not recommend red yeast to their patients, until the manufacturing process is cleaner and more standardised. By then, it may cost as much as a "statin".
At least we are beginning to get more data out of herbal traditional therapies. Such work should be encouraged.

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