Red Yeast Rice (RYR) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1,000 years to improve circulation and digestion. But, in the western world, RYR has a well-earned reputation for its ability to lower cholesterol levels. Most type 2 diabetics have problems with their cholesterol levels.
RYR is also known as Went rice, fermented red rice, koji red rice, akakoji, koji red rice, or anka. ‘Koji’ in Japanese means ‘grain or bean covered in a mold crop’, which is a fitting description.
Red yeast rice is created by fermenting a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus with rice. Once the rice is combined with the fermenting yeast, it turns a bright reddish purple color.
In Asia, people consume between 15 and 55 grams of natural RYR every day. In Chinese communities around the world, RYR powder is used to color foods such as tofu, meat, fish, cheese, vinegar, and cakes. It is also added to alcoholic beverages such as Japanese Saki and Korean rice wines to impart a reddish tinge.
Red Yeast Rice Extract (RYRE) is used to make red yeast rice supplements.
The statin problem
Statins They are a class of drugs that are often prescribed by doctors to help lower blood cholesterol levels to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Studies show that, in certain people, statins reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease by 25% to 35%.
There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol), which builds up plaque in the arteries, significantly increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, which prevents the build-up of plaque. plaque by transporting bad cholesterol. (LDL) from the blood to the liver, where it is removed from the body.
Some people find it difficult to take statins, including this author, due to side effects. Instead, I take 1000mg of cod liver oil and 10mg of Ezetimibe Teva every day. Ezetimibe Teva is another medicine to lower high cholesterol levels.
Side effects of statins include muscle pain and weakness, neuropathy, heart failure, dizziness, cognitive decline, cancer, pancreatic rot, and depression. In my experience, statins slowed down my thinking, which I found intolerable. The side effects of RYR are less unpleasant and much more acceptable.
RYR contains natural chemicals called monazins. Monokines block the production of cholesterol. One of these monacolins, Monacolin K, sometimes found in RYR supplements, is an active statin-like compound with the same chemical composition as prescription statins such as lovastatin and mevinolin. DDespite this, the side effects of RYR are different and more tolerable than the side effects of statins.
How Red Yeast Rice Lowers Cholesterol
The monacolin in red yeast rice is less than the equivalent compounds found in medical statins, so it is highly unlikely that monacolin is the only reason that RYR can lower cholesterol.
RYR contains other plant compounds such as phytosterols and isoflavones, as well as unsaturated fatty acids. Therefore, it is likely that these substances play a role in the ability of red yeast rice to lower cholesterol.
The truth is that red yeast (monacus purpureus) used to produce RYR stops the action of an enzyme that helps in the formation of cholesterol in the human body, thus reducing cholesterol in general.
The benefits of red yeast rice go far beyond reducing high cholesterol levels:
- Reduce high cholesterol
- Reduce muscle fatigue
- Improving insulin sensitivity
- Reduce obesity
- Reduce oxidative stress
Cholesterol reduction and red yeast rice
Red yeast rice supplements are taken more frequently to reduce hyperlipidemia, that is, high cholesterol.
There are many studies showing the effects of RYR extracts on cholesterol. The average benefits found when comparing the results of dozens of studies are (inconsistencies aside) as follows:
- 1.2 grams a day reduces LDL cholesterol levels by 26% in 8 weeks
- 2.4 g per day reduces LDL levels by 22% and total cholesterol by 16% in 12 weeks
A study published in the
American Journal of Cardiology in 2010 examined how RYR supplements affected 25 patients who could not tolerate statins. The results … on average, total cholesterol was lowered by 13% and LDL by 19%. And the RYR was well tolerated.
Another 2007 study in the European journal of cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation described the effects of RYR in 79 patients aged 23 to 65 years with high cholesterol. Some subjects took 600 mg of RYR twice daily for 8 weeks, others were given a placebo. Subjects who received the RYR showed significantly lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, at the end of two months, compared to those who received the placebo.
Muscle fatigue and red yeast rice
Many statin users complain of muscle fatigue, muscle pain, and a real sense of muscle weakness, as this author can attest. Estimates suggest that between 10% and 15% of statin users experience muscle fatigue.
A study published in May 2018 by the US National Institutes of Health examined the effects of taking simvastatin or RYR in 60 patients with high cholesterol levels and low to moderate risk of cardiovascular disease. The muscle fatigue score, physical activity, serum lipid profile, and safety profile were then evaluated.
After 4 weeks of taking the statin (33 patients) or the RYR (27 patients), the fatigue score increased significantly in patients treated with simvastatin, while no significant changes were observed in patients who received red yeast rice. Furthermore, the level of physical activity was significantly reduced in patients in the simvastatin group compared to those in the red yeast rice group. Similar lipid-lowering effects were observed in both groups. The safety profile was not affected after the treatments.
The study concluded that RYR worked as well as the statin but with less fatigue.
Improving Insulin Sensitivity with Red Yeast Rice
RYR can help maintain normal blood glucose levels.
A study published in 2012 in the World journal of cardiology demonstrated that RYR extract can contribute to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels when administered in a dietary supplement that also contains berberine and policosanol to people with metabolic syndrome compared to those who received only a placebo.
Metabolic syndrome is a health disorder that involves having a combination of any of the following three … abdominal obesity, hypertension, high blood glucose, high triglyceride levels, or low HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
After 18 weeks, the subjects who took the supplement had a significant decrease in insulin resistance, as well as LDL cholesterol and overall, compared to subjects who had been taking a placebo.
Using red yeast rice to reduce obesity
Obesity and high cholesterol are two common health problems that are often found together. Animal research has found that RYR is effective when used to treat both of these conditions.
In a study published in the Medicinal Food Magazine In 2015, researchers separated the animals into 5 groups … normal diet, high-fat diet without RYR, and three high-fat groups that received different amounts of RYR. The researchers found that the added RYR prevented weight gain and also improved the subjects’ atherogenic index.
Tea atherogenic index of plasma provides information on the proportions of cholesterol in the body. It is used as a marker to predict the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
The researchers concluded that RYR has therapeutic potential in the treatment of obesity and hyperlipidemia, that is, too many fats (lipids) in the blood, such as cholesterol.
Reduce oxidative stress with red yeast rice
Oxidative stress it is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules that can easily react with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation. They can be beneficial or harmful. Oxidative stress plays an important role in the formation of diseases.
In July 2017, the US Library of Medicine (NIH) published the results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 50 patients with metabolic syndrome and the effects of a supplement containing both RYR as olive extract. The trial found that RYR and olive extract supplementation greatly decreased two important biomarkers of oxidative damage or stress.
Lowering these two markers has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease in people who have metabolic syndrome … which includes most of us diabetics.
Like use red yeast rice
Finding RYR supplements online or at your health food store is easy. But deciding what is the best daily dose is not so easy.
Most studies use a standard extract of 2,400 mg per day, divided into two or four daily doses of 1,200 mg twice a day or 600 mg four times a day. But I’ve never seen clinically verified reasons why this “standard” is justified. But, as an alternative suggestion is not available, these may be the recommended dosages.
Any RYR supplement should be taken with food. It is also best taken with at least 90-120mg of CoQ10 to avoid a CoQ10 deficiency.
Different RYR supplement manufacturers use different yeast strains and different fermentation processes. This means that the amount of monacolin will vary between brands, ranging from 0 to 0.6% of the final supplement. The trick … read the labels carefully.
Possible Side Effects of Red Yeast Rice
Side effects of taking red yeast rice are usually mild (if any) and may include … headache, upset stomach, heartburn (acid reflux), gas, or dizziness.
Sore muscles and weakness are also possible, especially if the RYR supplement contains high levels of monacolin. If you experience such problems, stop taking the supplement and contact your doctor.
The received medical opinion is that you should not take RYR if you are already taking … statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications … antifungal medications … medications that suppress your immune system … the antibiotics erythromycin and clarithromycin … protease inhibitors used to treat HIV.
You should also avoid red yeast rice if you have … kidney disease … liver disease … thyroid problems … musculoskeletal disorders … a high risk of cancer … a serious infection … had a organ transplant … more than two alcoholic drinks a day … an allergy or sensitivity to rice, red yeast or any yeast.
Anyone under the age of 20 should not take RYR supplements. Nor should women, regardless of their age, breastfeeding, pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
It may be wise to consult your doctor before starting to take RYR supplements. If he is already prescribing statins, you should ask him about the switch to RYR supplements.