For more info please visit this site (University
of Maryland Medicine)
Red yeast rice has been used in China for centuries as both a food
and as a medicinal substance. It is made by fermenting a type of
yeast called Monascus purpureus over red rice. In Chinese medicine,
red yeast rice is used to promote blood circulation, soothe upset
stomach, and invigorate the function of the spleen, a body organ
that destroys old blood cells and filters foreign substances.
In addition, this dietary supplement has been used traditionally
for bruised muscles, hangovers, indigestion, and colic in infants.
Recently, it has been discovered that red yeast rice contains substances
that are similar to prescription medications that lower cholesterol.
There is also growing interest in evaluating red yeast rice for
use as a natural food dye and/or preservative. The overlap of red
yeast rice use as both a medicine and a food in traditional Chinese
practice is mirrored by a modern day controversy in the United States.
Currently, red yeast rice is classified as a dietary supplement
by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however,
given its contents and function, there are many who feel that it
is actually being used as an unregulated medication.
There is ongoing debate, therefore, about whether to change the
status of red yeast rice to a prescription drug-which would require
much greater regulation. Therapeutic Uses Laboratory studies have
shown that the Monascus purpureus inhibits the action of a body
enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, known to raise cholesterol which,
in turn, increases the risk of heart disease. Because of this inhibitory
action, red yeast rice's therapeutic uses include the prevention
and treatment of high cholesterol.
Taking red yeast rice can help reduce and maintain healthy cholesterol
levels and promote blood circulation, thereby lowering the risk
of heart disease.
The following studies suggest that red yeast rice significantly
reduces high cholesterol: Recently, the UCLA School of Medicine
conducted a study involving 83 people with high cholesterol levels.
Those who received red yeast rice over a 12-week period experienced
a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol,
and triglycerides (fatty substances that can also accumulate in
the blood stream and cause damage to blood vessels) compared to
those who received placebo. HDL ("good") cholesterol did not change
in either group during the study.
Two studies involving red yeast rice were presented at the American
Heart Association's 39th Annual conference in 1999. The first study,
involving 187 people with mild to moderate elevations in total cholesterol
and LDL cholesterol revealed that treatment with red yeast rice
reduced total cholesterol by more than 16%, LDL cholesterol by 21%,
and triglycerides by 24%. HDL cholesterol also increased by 14%.
In the second study, elderly participants who were given red yeast
rice experienced significant reductions in total cholesterol and
LDL cholesterol compared to those who received placebo. Both studies
treated the participants with the supplement or placebo for 8 weeks.
In another 8-week trial involving 446 people with high cholesterol
levels, those who received red yeast rice experienced a significant
drop in cholesterol levels compared to those who received placebo.
Total cholesterol fell by 22.7%, LDL by 31%, and triglycerides by
34% in the red yeast rice group. HDL cholesterol increased by 20%
in the red yeast rice group as well.
From Nature's Sunshine
Managing Your Cholesterol
Supporting heart and cardiovascular health requires dedication to
a conscientious program. This might include decreasing your saturated
fat intake, exercising, increasing dietary fiber intake and using
natural supplements that help the body maintain safe levels of cholesterol.
Approximately two-thirds of total blood cholesterol is manufactured
inside the body. Supplements that promote normal cholesterol production
levels may help maintain optimal levels in the blood.
Did You Know that...
- The human heart beats about 100,000 times each day (about 35 million
- At rest, the heart works twice as hard as the leg muscles of a
- The heart circulates approximately six quarts of blood through
the entire body three times every minute.
- An adult's heart is about the size of two fists.