Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lower Choleserol using Red Yeast Rice

A friend of mine purchased O'Choli in Taiwan a few years ago. His cholesterol had gone to the 240 range after a consistent diet of street vendor food in Singapore. Within a few months of taking O'Choli, his cholesterol level dropped to the 120 range.

The active ingredient in O'Choli is Monacolin K which is a key element of red yeast rice.

Red yeast rice is rice that has been fermented by red yeast, Monascus purpureus. It has been used by the Chinese for centuries as a food perservative and colorant. For example, the red color of Peking duck comes from red yeast rice. In China, Japan, and the Asian communities of the United States, red yeast rice is a dietary staple.

Red yeast rice has been used in China for over 1,000 years for improving blood circulation and for alleviating indigestion and diarrhea.

In 1977, Professor Endo in Japan discovered a natural cholesterol-lowering substance that is produced by a strain of Monascus yeast. This substance inhibits HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that is important for the production of cholesterol in the body. Professor Endo named this substance moncacolin K. Since then, scientists have discovered a total of 8 monacolin-like substances that have cholesterol-lowering properties.

There are three major preparations of red yeast rice: Zhitai, Cholestin or Hypocol, and Xuezhikang.

Zhitai is produced by the fermentation of different strains of Monascus purpureaus on whole grain rice. Zhitai contains mainly rice and yeast.

Cholestin is produced by the fermentaion of selected strains of Monascus purpureaus that produces a concentration of monacolin K (monacolin K is lovastatin, which is believed to be the major cholesterol-lowering ingredient). Lovastatin is the active ingredient in Mavocor which is used for lowering cholesterol. Cholestin has been banned in the United States, as a result of a lawsuit alleging patent infringement. However Hypocol can be purchased in Singapore and Malaysia.

Xuezhikang is produced by mixing the rice and red yeast with alcohol and then processing it to remove most of the rice gluten. Xuezhikang contains 40% more cholesterol-lowering ingredients than Cholestin.

However since Cholestin is not purified and concentrated, it contains 8 yeast-produced monacolins, unsaturated fatty acids, and certain anti-oxidants. Researchers believe that these other monacolins, unsaturated fatty acids, and anti-oxidants may work together favorably with lovastatin to enhance its cholesterol-lowering effects, as well as its ability in lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol. (HDL is considered the "good" form of cholesterol since high levels of HDL cholesterol protect against heart attacks.)

Chinese scientists conducted most of the animal and human studies on this issue, using either Zhitai or Xuezhikang. The results of 17 studies involving approximately 900 Chinese subjects with modestly elevated cholesterol levels have been published. In 8 of these studies, there was a control group that received a placebo (a pill with no active ingredients) for comparison purposes. In 9 of the studies, there was no placebo control group.

These studies consistently showed that Zhitai and Xuezhikang lower total cholesterol (by an average of 10-30%), lower LDL cholesterol (by an average of 10-20%), lower triglycerides (by an average of 15-25%), and increase HDL (by an average of 7-15%).

Scientists at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition studied Cholestin in a 12-week, double blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 83 American adults with borderline-high to moderately elevated cholesterol. They found that Cholestin reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels but had no effect on HDL cholesterol. This study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1999; 69:231-7).

Lowering LDL and increasing HDL cholesterol prevents atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque) of the heart's arteries. Since atherosclerosis causes heart attacks, lowering the LDL and increasing HDL cholesterol should lower the risk of heart attacks. In fact, several large, long-term, placebo-controlled clinical trials have shown clearly that lowering LDL cholesterol with diet and statin drugs (pravastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin) reduces the risk of heart attacks. No large, long-term studies of red yeast rice products for the prevention of heart attacks have yet been conducted. However, animal studies are underway at UCLA comparing red yeast rice to a statin drug (such as Mevacorâ„¢) for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis.

Scientists conducting the studies generally believe that red yeast rice is safe in the long-term since it has been a food staple for thousands of years in Asian countries without reports of toxicity. They attribute the safety of red yeast rice products to the process of preparation that does not involve the isolation and concentration of a single ingredient. Although it is true that isolation and concentration enhance the potency of a single ingredient, these factors also increase the risk of side effects.

I will start taking Hypocol after getting my cholesterol tested shortly. Results will be posted here!

Please leave comments here in regards to your experiences with Red Yeast Rice products.

2 Comments:

Blogger India Herbs Team said...

I just received my blood test results from 14 August:

Total Cholesterol: 217
HDL-Cholesterol: 49
LDL-Cholesterol: 153
Triglycerides: 76

After the lab test on 14 August, I began taking HypoCol - 2 capsules twice daily.

My doctor also recommended taking Cod Liver capsules to increase HDL levels.

I'll take another blood test on 15 September and post the results here.

5:29 PM  
Blogger India Herbs Team said...

I just received my blood test results from 14 August:

Total Cholesterol: 217
HDL-Cholesterol: 49
LDL-Cholesterol: 153
Triglycerides: 76

After the lab test on 14 August, I began taking HypoCol - 2 capsules twice daily.

My doctor also recommended taking Cod Liver capsules to increase HDL levels.

I'll take another blood test on 15 September and post the results here.

5:30 PM  

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