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High Cholesterol Message Board

High Cholesterol Board Index

I have been very intrigued about red yeast rice formulations for a couple of months and have spent a lot of time looking into them as an alternative to prescription drugs. However, the more that I read, the more that I realize that there are some inherant problems with these formulations. Red yeast fermented on white rice is a very old Chinese condiment/folk cure. Some of the byproducts of the fermentation process are a series of chemicals known scientifically as monacolins, which naturally work to inhibit the body's production of cholesterol. The most effective of these monacolins is called monacolin K, which has been isolated and purified to produce lovastatin, or the prescription drug we know as Mevacor.

The problems this presents are that these active agents work in the liver to inhibit an enzyme called Hmg-Co A Reductase. Basically, you are taking a mild form of a statin drug when you take these preparations. Any chemical that does it's work in the liver needs to be monitored carefully whether it is a prescription or OTC drug (pravacol and mevacor will probably reapply for OTC status this summer) or a supplement. The other problem is that a company that was selling one of these formulations ran afoul of the FDA and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and has pulled their product from the market on the basis that they were selling an unlicensed and therefore illegally marketed drug. I have also read a couple of papers that suggested that red yeast rice supplements are walking a thin line over the patent rights to the mevacor drug. These are issues that only time and the regulatory agencies, along with the courts, will be able to sort out in the long run. The patent on mevacor technically ends this year, but there are things afoot that may delay that expiration. My best advice is to be very careful if you choose to use this type of supplement and understand that it may or may not be available over the long run.

Many drugs in the vast pharmacopia available to patients and doctors are found in nature. Asperin, penicillin, curare, and the above mentioned lovastatin are among just a very few that come to mind, and as such are "natural." On the same token, many of the supplements that we take to enhance our lives and sundry functions of our bodies are not. We should all be informed and intelligent about what we take and how we approach any chemical which will enhance our lives or treat chronic conditions because there is a fine line between safe and not safe that we have to walk.

Does this mean that I endorse prescription drugs over other treatments? Absolutely not. Another poster gave very good advice a few weeks back that we should all use caution with whatever approach we choose for dealing with high cholesterol. That is the approach that I advise here, also. What I do think about red yeast rice formulations is that the recommended dosage is equal to a 10-12mg. dosage of mevacor. However, from what I have managed to read and learn, mevacor is probably the least of the statins when it comes to the reports of serious side effects.

FYI, I read this some time back as to how the dosages of the statin drugs line out:

Lipitor 10mg=Baycol .3mg=Zocor 20mg=Pravacol 40mg.=Mevacor 60mg.=Lescol 80mg. I may not have this entirely correct, but it gives you an idea how easily we could possibly be overdosed with these drugs.

Hope the information helps others here, especially the newbies. I hope that the choices we all eventually make are the right ones for all of us.


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