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Old 02-19-2007, 05:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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An Asian dietary staple

My hubby is working on a paper and I found some of the information interesting so I thought Id share part of It.

An Asian Dietary Staple

Red yeast rice, an Asian dietary staple made by fermenting red yeast (Monascus purpureus) on rice, gained rapid acknowledgment in the United States as a cholesterol-lowering agent. The fermentation process yielded specific amounts of statins--the compounds largely held responsible for reducing cholesterol levels. In 2001, however, red yeast rice extract, a "natural" unregulated nutritional supplement, was withdrawn by the FDA. This decision followed the agency's determination that it was chemically too similar to the prescription statin medication Mevacor, and thus should be classified as a "drug," As a result, supplements containing red yeast rice have essentially disappeared from retail stores. The original product, Cholestin, has been reformulated without red yeast rice. If the product does return to health-food stores in the future, it will probably be available only by a doctor's prescription.

As a substance, red yeast rice extract has a number of heart health benefits: It seems to help reduce total cholesterol levels, lower levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increase levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, and lower levels of unhealthy fats called triglycerides. It appears to achieve this by restricting the liver's production of cholesterol. The compound responsible for this effect--mevinolin--is chemically identical to the cholesterol-lowering compound lovastatin, which is sold as the prescription drug Mevacor. Hence the action by the FDA. Mevinolin is also similar to the active ingredients in other cholesterol medications such as Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin). Unsaturated fatty acids in red yeast rice extract are also believed to be beneficial, possibly by lowering triglycerides. Most studies of the extract showed a substantial cholesterol-lowering effect a reduction of 25 to 40 points.

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.

Bonovich, K, Colfer H, Davidson M, Dujovne C, Greenspan M, Karlberg R, et al. A Multi-Center, Self-Controlled Study of Cholestin In Subjects With Elevated Cholesterol. American Heart Association. 39th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, Orlando, Fl. March 1999. [Abstract]
Havel R. Dietary supplement or drug? The case of cholestin. Am J Clin Nut.r 1999;69(2):175-176.
Heber D, Yip I, Ashley JM, Elashoff DA, Go VLW. Cholesterol-lowering effects of a proprietary Chinese red-yeast-rice dietary supplement. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69:231-236.
INPR The Institute for Natural Products Research [resource on World Wide Web]. URL: http://www.natural products.org. Available from Internet. Accessed 2001 Feb 6.
Kuhn M, Winston D. Herbal Therapy and Supplements, A Scientific and Traditional Approach. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott; 2001.
Li C, Li Y, Hou Z. Toxicity study for Monascus purpureus (red yeast) extract. Information of the Chinese Pharmacology Society. 1995;12 (4):12 [Translation]
Li C, Zhu Y, Wang Y, Zhu J, Chang J, Kritchevsky D. Monascus Purpureus-Fermented Rice (Red Yeast Rice): A natural food product that lowers blood cholesterol In animal models of hypercholesterolemia. Nutrition Research. 1998;18(1):71-81.
Ma J, Li Y, Ye Q, Li J, Hua Y, Ju D, et al. Constituents of red yeast rice, a traditional Chinese food and medicine. J Agric Food Chem. 2000;48:5220-5225.
Pharmanex. Cholestin Healthcare Professional Product Guide. Updated 6/2000.
Qin S, Zhang W, Qi P, Zhao M, Dong Z, Li Y , et al. Elderly patients with primary hyperlipidemia benefited from treatment with a Monacus purpureus rice preparation: A placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. American Heart Association. 39th Annual conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, Orlando, Fl. March 1999. [Abstract]
Wang J, Lu Z, Chi J, Wang W, Su M, Kou W, et al. Multicenter clinical trial of serum lipid-lowering effects of a Monascus purpureus (red yeast) rice preparation from traditional Chinese medicine. Curr Ther Res. 1997;58(12):964-978.

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