Cholesterol/LipidsRed Yeast Rice

Benefits of red yeast rice in statin-intolerant patients

red_yeastResearchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in Philadelphia tell us it was an effective alternative for patients with high cholesterol levels.

First, the details.

  • 62 patients with high cholesterol blood levels and history of discontinuation of statin therapy due to muscle pain were assigned to a treatment group for 24 weeks.
    • Red yeast rice 1800 mg twice daily
    • Placebo (31 patients) twice daily
  • All patients enrolled in a 12-week therapeutic lifestyle change program.
  • The primary outcome was a change in LDL (bad) cholesterol level.

And, the results.

  • In the red yeast rice group, LDL cholesterol decreased
    • 1.11 mmol/L (43 mg/dL) at week 12
    • 0.90 mmol/L (35 mg/dL) at week 24
  • In the placebo group, LDL cholesterol decreased
    • 0.28 mmol/L (11 mg/dL) at week 12
    • 0.39 mmol/L (15 mg/dL) at week 24
  • LDL cholesterol decreased significantly more in the red yeast rice group.
  • There were also significant reductions in total cholesterol levels at weeks 12 and 24.
  • HDL (good) cholesterol, triglycerides, liver enzymes, creatine phosphokinase (CPK) [a measure of muscle damage], weight loss, and pain severity did not significantly differ between groups at anytime.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Red yeast rice and therapeutic lifestyle change decrease LDL cholesterol level,… and may be a treatment option for dyslipidemic patients who cannot tolerate statin therapy.”

However, 62 patients are not sufficient to permit definitive conclusions on the safety of red yeast rice.

A recently posted review on Medscape provides a detailed review of red yeast rice and hyperlipidemia.

11/3/09 20:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.