What your doctor is reading is a regular feature that reviews current information about medications from the medical journals that are most often read by physicians.
The dietary supplements red rice yeast and fish oil combined with healthy lifestyle changes - such as exercise and diet - can help reduce LDL cholesterol (also known as bad cholesterol) as effectively as the statin drug Zocor (simvastatin), according to new research.
This alternative method for lowering LDL cholesterol may be helpful for people with high cholesterol who are unwilling or unable to take statins because of muscle cramps, other side effects or the cost of brand name statins. Since no prescription is required, this therapy is readily available.
Red yeast rice is a Chinese herbal medication first described in the Tang Dynasty in 800 AD. It is used as a garnish for food and a traditional medication. Red yeast rice contains naturally occurring statin (lovastatin) and 9 different substances called monacolins that could inhibit the body's ability to make cholesterol.
However, there may be some problems with the use of red rice yeast supplements. ConsumerLab.com, a company that evaluates health, wellness, and nutrition products, found that levels of cholesterol-lowering statin compounds varied by more than 100-fold among 10 red yeast rice products - some containing a large amount but others had hardly any.
ConsumerLab.com also found that four of the 10 products were contaminated with citrinin, a substance that may cause kidney damage.
If this information is confusing, speak with your healthcare provider before using a red yeast rice product. Dietary supplements, such as red yeast rice, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and problems with quality and safety can be a problem.
The following articles from About.com provide important information about the use of red yeast rice: