Acupuncture Continuing Education

High Cholesterol Lowered with Red Yeast Rice Research

New research published in the American Journal of Cardiology shows that red yeast rice is as effective in lowering cholesterol levels as statin drugs. The focus of the study compared red yeast rice (Hong Qu, Hong Mi, Chi Qu) with Pravastatin. The study concluded that “red yeast rice was tolerated as well as pravastatin and achieved a comparable reduction of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in a population previously intolerant to statins.” Patients taking pravastatin had a decrease of of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) of 27% and the red yeast rice group had a slightly better outcome with a 30% reduction. The study was conducted at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The study gives a little history of red yeast rice use noting that sales of red yeast rice were approximately $20 million in the USA in 2008. Patients taking red yeast rice often sought this alternative herbal approach due to the side effects of statin drugs such as muscle pain. The study notes that, “in a previous placebo-controlled study, we demonstrated that 93% of subjects with a history of SAM were able to tolerate red yeast rice for 24 weeks without a recurrence of myalgia.”



Halbert, French, Gordon, Farrar, Schmitz, Patti, Morris, Thompson, Rader, Becker; Tolerability of Red Yeast Rice (2,400 mg Twice Daily) Versus Pravastatin (20 mg Twice Daily) in Patients With Previous Statin Intolerance; American Journal of Cardiology, Volume 105, Issue 2, P. 198-204, 15 January 2010.

Becker DJ, Gordon J, Halbert SC, French B, Morris PB, Rader DJ. Red yeast rice versus placebo in dyslipidemic, statin-intolerant patients enrolled in a therapeutic lifestyle program: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150:830–839.