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Red Yeast Rice?
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Red Yeast Rice?

Does anybody have any personal experience with Red Yeast Rice and its effects on LDL cholesterol?  Did it work, and to what extent?  

I have read about its effects on lowering cholesterol dramatically and know a professor who had similar results with her own high cholesterol.  I spoke with my doctor about it and he never heard of it.  He suggested Fish oils to improve HDL levels and thats about it.  

I guess what I want to know, does anybody have some good experience with Red yeast rice, and how well did it improve your cholesterol?  Any success and/or horror stories appreciated! :)
Tags: yeast, Heart
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Avatar_n_tn
Uh lilcharlie, you might want to read the post that says I'm mad, it's about 3 below yours from Anacyde...how funny!

abl
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61536_tn?1340701763
Yeah, read my post below.  Anything you find on the market now will be perfectly useless.  It did work, before the FDA got their filthy mits on it.
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Avatar_n_tn
Yeh...drugs...those are the entities that have undergone massive testing for safety and efficacy, taking a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop.  Yeh..I would definitely opt for some plant extract that had the solid backing of hearsay for efficacy and the word "natural" for safety.  Yeh...

-arthur
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Avatar_n_tn
Thats what I been reading too.  THey use different strains of Red yeast rice now that do not have statins anymore.  THere is a product called Hypocol that is made in china and can be bought in New Zealand.  The real question now is, can it be shipped to the states.  Its what im working on now to find out!  It makes me so upset though, the only thing anybody can do nowadays is got on prescription drugs...and i personally dont feel like fueling the drug companies anymore than i have to!
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Avatar_n_tn
Red Yeast rice is a proven remedy in lowering LDL cholesterol, was legal in the US but was taken off the market due to big business not being pleased that you could have all the benefits of statins for far less cost.  Maybe you should do some research and think about what you say before you speak!
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66068_tn?1365196781
I agree with Arthur. Furthermore, the red yeast rice supplement is essentially an uncontrolled statin drug. The FDA rightfully declared Cholestin (the popular brand of red yeast rice supplement) an unapproved drug because the main active ingredient, lovastatin, is equivalent to the active ingredient in the prescription drug Mevacor, made by Merck & Co. Statins require a prescription and for good reason. Why should the same drug (but with uncontrolled purity) be made available over the counter where it can be potentially abused?  I hate to think of an anorexic teenager popping these supplements with the belief that this will make them thinner. I hate to think of a high cholesterol middle-ager thinking they can get their cholesterol lower quickly by doubling up on the dosage of these supplements.

Nor are Cholestin, Xuezhikang, Zhibituo, Hypocol or similar red yeast rice supplements that natural either.   The dietary supplement is made from rice treated with a red yeast called Monascus purpurus. When the yeast ferments in about two weeks, the rice is milled into a powder and put in a capsule.  Of the active ingredients, 75 percent is lovastatin. So it's about as natural as alcohol or beer, except it contains the active ingredient of a prescription drug.

It's the FDA's duty (by law) to monitor and control drugs of this sort. Why are you holistic types so anti-government and so quick to accuse an FDA/Pharma conspiracy??

Nor do I accept the claim that this stuff has been used safely for years.  There have been no controlled studies to show that faithfully taking the recommended dosage of supplements daily for tens of years is safe.

Tony
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61536_tn?1340701763
I'm totally perplexed as to how or why someone would abuse a cholesterol-lowering supplement...though I suppose anything is possible.  But anorexics aren't stupid, they know what works and what doesn't.  Been there.

Lovastatin was a naturally occuring chemical in that supplement.  Interestingly enough, it can't be exactly the same as the FDA regulated statin medications as my uncle suffered a severe reaction to statin medications after his bypass, and thus his cholesterol stayed high.  His wife found the red yeast rice pills (before the FDA took them out) and his cholesterol dropped to normal and he had no reactions.

Drug companies have to screw with things, that's where my problem is.  It's about big business first and the consumer second.  While regulation of anything that can actually consistently treat a disease is probably sometimes a good idea, I see no difference in keeping RYR pills on the market and having laxatives, aspirin, cold remedies, acid reflux treatments and so on available otc.  There is INCREDIBLE potential for abuse of common things, substantially more than for the red yeast rice.  In the same vein as the anorexia comparison...how about laxative abuse?

See, laxatives aren't big money.  There aren't millions of people dying because they can't poop.  However, there are people dying of cholesterol related disease - and thus, it is a drug that is necessary and must be used for life in most cases.  Ca-CHING!
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Avatar_n_tn
A voice of reason.  It's incredible to think that the number one country in the world in the discovery of cutting edge, safe and efficacious pharmaceucticals is generally seen as a money-grabbing, unfeeling ogre only interested in glutting itself.  It's really a shame that folks in general have such a poor handle on basic science and seem to be oblivious to the tremendous effort by our drug companies to find cures for diseases.
As mentioned above, it takes a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars to get a product into the marketplace.  Patent life on a drug actually starts when the drug is first discovered in the lab.  Ten years or more later it might show up in the pharmacy. That leaves a scant half-dozen years of exclusivity, during which time the company tries to make up for the R&D costs and begin to make some profit...which of course, doesn't go into "glutting" but into more R&D.  Very little time actually.  Superimpose on top of this the liberal front pushing for lower drug costs and other countries changing their patent laws to suit themselves.  The time will soon come when our companies can no longer function (in fact it's happening now).  

I suppose then it things will be much better.  Cheap drugs for everyone (generics will rule).  And just think, no more worries about new and expensive drugs entering the marketplace, as there will be none.

-Arthur

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Avatar_f_tn
I don't want to get "in the mix" with this issue, but I do just want to point out that there are many, many examples of drugs that have been researched by the drug companies and approved by the FDA only to discover that they are extremely harmful (noteworthy examples are Phen/Fen, Redux, Vioxx, Celebrex, etc.).  So, it is clear that just because a drug has been "thoroughly" researched and is FDA-approved does not by any means assure its safety.  Conversely, it is true that there are "alternative" treatments that do indeed work. There is a Chinese medicine practitioner in my town who can vouch for that fact.  I truly believe that drug companies do engage in a money game of trying to promote expensive drugs that people cannot afford without insurance (and sometimes even with it) to enhance their bottom lines, not because they care about US.  Right now, my husband and I have no insurance - it is not our fault.  We are both hard-working, very well-educated people who do NOT and will NOT get welfare.  We just simply cannot afford medical treatment right now.  Hopefully that will change soon, but for now my husband has had to give up medication that he really needs because we simply cannot afford to pay for it without insurance.  Additionally, I have taken FDA-approved drugs that have proven to be toxic and damaging.  I am rambling and ranting, but am just saying all this say that prescription drugs and the companies that promote them are not "all that" by any means, and just because a treatment is not FDA-approved does not mean it does not work.
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Avatar_f_tn
P.S.  I know you don't give a **** about my husband or myself, so I don't know why I just wrote all that.  It just pisses me off sometime when the "haves" bash the "have-nots", trying to make us look like ignorant Jerry Springer guests because we cannot afford drugs or insurance.  My husband and I didn't get master degrees from top universities to live like this (so much for the American dream, huh?), but what do you "haves" with insurance care?
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Avatar_n_tn
I am doing some research on the concept of patient-to-patient support and was hoping you could assist me...
Do you prefer patient-to-patient forums over expert-to-patient forums? Do you find the info provided by patients more reliable? (otherwise why not just ask the expert...)
(Thanks for your cooperation!)
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66068_tn?1365196781
"Lovastatin was a naturally occuring chemical in that supplement. Interestingly enough, it can't be exactly the same as the FDA regulated statin medications as my uncle suffered a severe reaction to statin medications after his bypass, and thus his cholesterol stayed high."

You are generalizing and IMO reaching an incorrect conclusion. While lovastatin is not "eactly the same" as the particular statin your uncle was prescribed, why do you believe that he would have a similar reaction to another statin?  Did he try them all? The fact that he tolerated red yeast rice (lovastatin) refutes your statin premise. BTW, lovastatin is exactly the same chemical found in Merck's Mevacor.  Mevacor IS lovastatin.  Has your uncle tried Mevacor?

"I see no difference in keeping RYR pills on the market and having laxatives, aspirin, cold remedies, acid reflux treatments and so on available otc."

Statins are in a different league than the OTC's you mention. You won't have serious side-effects if you take laxatives, aspirin, etc. as directed.... but you could experience a serious reaction taking any statin (including red yeast rice)even as directed. You can have changes in liver function or experience damage to muscle tissue (myopathy). Rhabdomyolysis, can occur that can sometimes be fatal. Consequently, you must be under a doctor's supervision while taking any statin.  That's why they are prescribed. The FDA rightfully takes this position with red yeast rice containing lovastatin.

"Drug companies have to screw with things, that's where my problem is."

If it weren't for the drug companies, we wouldn't have any of the miracle drugs now saving millions of lives a year.  Yes, it is big business. If you took away the profits (and profits are not excessive.. that's why the stock price of companies like Merck and Pfizer have been doing poorly lately), no research would be done on new drugs.  No company could afford to run the clinical trials and jump through all the FDA hoops. The science of medicine would come to a standstill.

"While regulation of anything that can actually consistently treat a disease is probably sometimes a good idea"

The problem is, nobody knows which drugs will be effective or safe prior to clinical tests.  That's why the FDA requires that all "drugs' be tested.  It's for our protection.  If there were no FDA, the market would be flooded with ineffective and dangerous drugs/supplements.

Best wishes

Tony
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61536_tn?1340701763
He tried several statins.  They all caused a reaction.  The red yeast rice did not.

Insofar as lovastatin causing potential serious reactions, I agree that people can have serious reactions.  However, there are a number of otc drugs that can do that or worse.  Even when taken exactly as directed, any medication (regulated or otherwise) can have the potential for serious harm.  Pseudoephederine is a good example.
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Avatar_n_tn
I havta agree with Tony and ARthur!  While nothing compares to the doctor/nurse bashing (from people who don't want to hear the truth, ;-) I also tire of pharmaceutical bashing.  I used to be a research nurse at one point, and the general public have NO IDEA how expensive it is to test drugs.  The FDA hurdles are extremely high, and will continue to get higher.   It costs bunches to even get people to volunteer for clinical trials!  They try to leave no stone unturned, and unfortunately, things still happen, like with Celebrex, which I was involved with the testing.  The pharm. companies HAVE to charge a fortune because it costs a fortune to make.   It is a big business, but there is no other way to develop new drugs.  Those of us with cardiomyopathy are grateful for those who spent the money to develop Coreg!  Those of you who take Zanax for your *palps*, aren't you glad some company developed it??  Naturally, there is no way to be 100% sure that untoward side effects won't appear years after the start of drug research, but the FDA continues to upgrade their requirements, as they should.  If I get breast cancer, I surely will thank the company that developed the drug that cures me.  Allowing remedies to stay on the market without rigorous study is unconscionable in my opinion.  I have never heard of this red yeast stuff you all mention, but I would be AFRAID to take it.  Look at all the  people Ephedrine killed!  While I do take issue with some of the pharm. marketing techniqes, they truly WANT to cure disease!!  And don't get me started on the costs of insurance!  All the tons of unnecessary testing that goes on here is one of the main reasons, folks!  Ok, I'll get down now from my soapbox!
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66068_tn?1365196781
I agree with everything you say.
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66068_tn?1365196781
"I do just want to point out that there are many, many examples of drugs that have been researched by the drug companies and approved by the FDA only to discover that they are extremely harmful (noteworthy examples are Phen/Fen, Redux, Vioxx, Celebrex, etc.). So, it is clear that just because a drug has been "thoroughly" researched and is FDA-approved does not by any means assure its safety."

The cases you mentioned illustrate the need for even greater vigilence and testing on the part of the FDA.

"Conversely, it is true that there are "alternative" treatments that do indeed work. There is a Chinese medicine practitioner in my town who can vouch for that fact."

As a former karate instructor and lifelong student of oriental martial arts and philosophy, I actually have a strong respect for the orient. However, many Chinese beliefs are akin to superstition (raindeer horn powder for libido).  For example, there is no anatomical basis whatsoever for the meridian which underlies accupuncture.

The amounts of red yeast rice powder consumed by a typical Chinese is a far lower dose than found in the supplements you favor. We have no idea how many people suffered degenerative muscle desease or failed livers in China as a result of sprinkling red yeast rice powder on their food. Yes, alternative treatments do sometimes work... but they need to prove both their efficacy and safety before being allowed on the market. The FDA was right to take this stand.

"but what do you "haves" with insurance care?"

Actually, I thnk it's a national disgrace that we don't have universal health insurance. I'm sorry you and your husband are in this position.

Best wishes

Tony
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Avatar_f_tn
I think many people who have been involved in pharmaceuticals other than trying to educate themselves over the internet will agree its a nessecary evil.. Yes... i said evil...The pharmaceutical business is just that, a business.. They are first and foremost,a money making venture.. The general public may not understand what the costs are for researching, and testing drugs, but no one will test a drug that they dont have a fairly strong chance of getting a return on.. Thats not good business, and thus why people are not exactly in love with the industry.. Its the same general principle with insurance companies... Yes, they do good, no one is disputing that, But doing good is no longer, (or was ever imo) put above making a buck at the end of the day..

Another large complain of mine is the fact that natural supplements are not regulated.. But that arguement is for another day.
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Avatar_f_tn
Sorry to be so witchy, I am just stressed out in a big way right now.  I have a kid with asthma and feel a little insecure knowing we'd have to run up a big ER bill if she were to have an attack (can't take her to the doc).  I apologize to all.
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Avatar_f_tn
no need to apologize!! I completely understand.. I work part time as a patient liasion in my EP doctors office, and i see alot of horrible things, and alot of people who need help but cant afford it and their insurance wont help.. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth too and i dont blame you one bit.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dont be sorry at all.  You and I and anybody who wants to take "Natural" Suppliments should be able to.  As long as its not a narcotic or something that would impare my judgement in someway, whats the real problem?  The difference would be hundreds of dollars on statins versus 10 bucks for a month supply of Red Yeast Rice.  China, several countries in Europe, New Zealand...all these places allow people to take the statin form of Red Yeast Rice.  whats the difference??? The differnce is the US is about big business, PERIOD.  

For the government to deny us the use of Red Yeast Rice is like wiping before you poop, it just dont make sense!
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66068_tn?1365196781
I just searched the internet and found a Consumer Report site recommending generic lovastatin (with prescription, of course)as a best buy.  This costs about $34/month.

http://www.consumerreports.org/mg/cost-effective-drug-choices/cedc_statins.htm

Or you can try to get lovastatin via red yeast rice pills shipped in from China. The domestic red yeast pills currently cost about $20/month. See

http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=3148162

The key here is not the price difference but whether you should be monitored by your doctor when you take lovastatin.  When you take prescribed lovastatin, you are forced to go to the doctor periodically (otherwise s/he won't renew your prescription) to insure you are not experiencing silent side effects (e.g. liver problems). If you take the illegal red yeast pills, you are on your own and it's the roll of the dice.  For most, it will work as advertised with no problems.  For a few, their health will be engangered. Your choice. Your government has done its best to protect you.... but if you are stuborn. Oh well.
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Avatar_n_tn
There are many different types of RYR in the market. Not all are the same as the technique of fermentation varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The important thing is to take the brand of RYR that is backed by clinical evidence and supported by science.
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Avatar_n_tn
Sure, go to your doctor and please get treated, get on lovastatin, while you can.  Once your insurance plan changes and they write new gatekeeper questions you begin that slippery slide toward under insured to no insurance.  Why? Because you're being treated for a heart condition.

Insurance companies by practice rewrite their plans about every 2.5 years in order to remove sick people from them and to write healthy wealthy people to the new plan.  Red Yeast Rice (and over the counter options like that) are a way for people to go under the radar and hopefully self treat a condition that would otherwise leave them without insurance.

This is a very disturbing risk trend where in order to survive financially in this country  you must lie and keep things from your doctor so that you at least have insurance for the catastrophic.

This thread is about much more than Red Yeast Rice, which by the way has taken about 60 points off my overall cholesterol  and lowered my ldl's to a normal range.  Yippie! I can get insured now with a $2000 deductible and no vision or dental or prescription coverage... lucky me.

Sure there may not be that big of difference in price at the end of the day between Red Yeast Rice and a generic statin.  There is a higher cost however on both sides for being on the record with high cholesterol.  You can get treated for about 2.5 years.  Then what?

Who is really being served under the current healthcare model we have in the US?  Are there risks with Red Yeast Rice? Perhaps - but they are MY risks and not for the government to legislate.  If the information and warnings are posted and out there it's up to me to make the choice as to what risks I want to take for myself.  

Thank you Pharma and FDA for all your research and being there.  Now let me live my own life and choose my own path.
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214864_tn?1229718839
I tried RYR about 3 years ago and I got the same dangerous adverse reactions as I do to all statins. This is not my point though, in the United Kingdom, aren't statins available without prescriptions? I wonder what impact this has had on heart disease in the UK?
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Avatar_m_tn
Ditto, Jack54.  I too had the same adverse reaction(s) to RYR as Lipitor.  Just for the info here.

I should add a side note..   I began using fermented kombucha tea about one year ago.  It was mostly as a digestive aid.   Lo and behold, it has literally cut my LDL by 30 points.  Went from 170 to 140.   I know.. still not optimum.. but gotta admit I was impressed.    So those who are not able to handle statin alternatives should check it out.  By the way, there are several brands out there purchasable at Whole Foods or any other health food outlet.  Synergy is one, although I used another one.  Remember, you want the fermented tea.. comes in a jar and has some fizzle.

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Avatar_f_tn
It also depends how "high" the cholesterol is.  When you have an LDL of 231 as I had and a TC of 306 only a statin helped get my cholesterol down.

Some people get side effects, some don't.  I do NOT and never have and have been on Zocor for 4 1/2 yrs.  However, I get side effects from aspirin whether a baby aspirin or a coated aspirin, only one puts my stomach lining on fire.

I get flu like symptoms when taking CQ10 the so highly praised natural stuff.

I got severe anxiety when taking Policasonol which is a "natural" product to lower cholesterol.

I never took Red Yeast Rice because back then it had a statin in it or used to so I said what the hell I might as well take the real stuff and I haven't regretted it for one minute.  

Lots of people make the mistake and don't even try it but read horror stories on the Internet like I did and it scared the hell out of me and caused me to walk around with super high cholesterol for over one year.
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1108138_tn?1258830030
You said, "As a former karate instructor and lifelong student of oriental martial arts and philosophy, I actually have a strong respect for the orient. However, many Chinese beliefs are akin to superstition (raindeer horn powder for libido).  For example, there is no anatomical basis whatsoever for the meridian which underlies accupuncture. "

That is not true.  Acupuncture is  widely accepted and with good reason.  Most insurance companies now pay for acupuncture treatments because they get results.

Last  month I went to an acupuncturist because I was having skipped heartbeats.  In just two treatments, my skipped heartbeats DISAPPEARED.  My heart beats normally now.  
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