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  • Red Yeast Rice: Nature's Medicine

    by Dr. Aimee Warren

    Cholesterol is a substance that is required for the body to make and maintain healthy cells. It is also used to make hormones such as estrogen and testosterone and bile acids which help digest food. Too much cholesterol in the body, however, can be damaging to the body leading to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. High cholesterol can be hereditary but many times it is caused by lifestyle choices such as poor diet and lack of exercise. That being said, we can and should incorporate better habits to decrease high cholesterol and keep the prescription medications from taking over the medicine cabinet.

    Getting your bodies moving every day (yes, every day), decreasing saturated and trans fats in your diet (drop that frozen pizza!), and increasing the amounts of whole grains, whole fruits, veggies and fiber are just a few of the changes that can lower cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. Although lifestyle changes are the foundation in keeping your cholesterol in a healthy range, other alternative therapies can be utilized to lower your cholesterol naturally and may help keep you out of the pharmacy line.

    Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Considered essential fatty acids because they are required for our bodies to function normally and they are only available from dietary sources. Omega 3 fatty acids come in the form of ALA, DHA, and EPA. Most experts agree that DHA and EPA are the forms that are most beneficial to our health. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease by reducing inflammation and also greatly lower triglycerides. Source: 2 Grams per day of fish oil or flax seed oil. Dietary sources include cold water fish/oily fish such as salmon, walnuts, ground flax seeds, broccoli, and spinach.

    Red Yeast Rice: Used for centuries in China as both a food and medicine, red yeast rice is made by fermenting a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus over red rice. It contains chemicals similar to those found in statin medications and works by inhibiting an enzyme in the body that makes cholesterol. In one study performed by the American Heart Association, red yeast rice decreased total cholesterol by 16%, “bad” cholesterol LDL by 21% and lowered triglycerides by 24%. Source: 1200-2400 Milligrams of red yeast rice powder in capsule form daily. Take with food.

    Niacin (Vitamin B3): Niacin has been a well-studied supplement shown to decrease cholesterol. Specifically, it has been shown to lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol). Flushing of the skin is a common and potentially unpleasant side effect of niacin; however taking the slow release form and taking a baby aspirin along with it may help decrease this effect.
    Source: Men 16 milligrams daily; women 14 milligrams daily

    Phytosterols: Also referred to as plant sterol and stanol esters, these are a group of naturally occurring compounds found in plant cell membranes. They are structurally similar to our body’s cholesterol so when they are consumed, they compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system. As a result, cholesterol absorption is blocked and blood cholesterol levels are lowered. Total cholesterol can be lowered by 10%, LDL cholesterol can be lowered by as much as 14%! Source: Recommended amount daily: 1.3 – 2 grams twice per day with meals. Phytosterols are naturally present in small quantities in nuts, vegetable oils, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. You can also get the recommended amount through supplements and fortified foods.

    Always ask your doctor before starting any new medication or supplement. Be well, Aimee Warren D.O..

  • Scientific Opinion on the Substantiation of a Health Claim Related to Sylvan Bio Red Yeast Rice and Maintenance of Normal Blood LDL-Cholesterol Concentrations

    Following an application from Sylvan Bio Europe BV, submitted for authorisation of a health claim pursuant to Article 13(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of the Netherlands, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to monacolin K in SYLVAN BIO red yeast rice and maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations. The food, monacolin K in SYLVAN BIO red yeast rice, that is the subject of the health claim is sufficiently characterised. The claimed effect, maintenance of normal blood LDL cholesterol concentrations, is a beneficial physiological effect. A claim on monacolin K from red yeast rice and maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations has already been assessed with a favourable outcome at daily intakes of 10 mg monacolin K from any red yeast rice preparation (which would include SYLVAN BIO red yeast rice). The evidence provided by the applicant for the present application does not establish that monacolin K in SYLVAN BIO red yeast rice is different from monacolin K in other red yeast rice preparations with respect to its effect on blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations.

    EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to monacolin K in SYLVAN BIO red yeast rice and maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations pursuant to Article 13(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 2013;11(2):3084. [13 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2013.3084. Available

  • Lifestyle Changes and Supplements

    The goal of this study was to compare the lipid-lowering effects of an alternative regimen (lifestyle changes, red yeast rice, and fish oil) with a standard dose of a 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor (statin). The randomized, controlled study concluded that lifestyle changes combined with ingestion of Red Yeast Rice and fish oil is a promising alternative approach to the standard therapy of Simvastatin.

    There was a statistically significant reduction in LDL-C levels in both the AG (-42.4%±15%) (P<.001) and the simvastatin group (-39.6%±20%) (P<.001). No significant differences were noted between groups. The AG also demonstrated significant reductions in triglycerides (-29% vs -9.3%; 95% confidence interval, -61 to -11.7; P=.003) and weight (-5.5% vs -0.4%; 95% confidence interval, -5.5 to -3.4; P<.001) compared with the simvastatin group.

    David J. Becker, Ram Y. Gordon, Patti B. Morris, Jacqueline Yorko, Y. Jerold Gordon, Mingyao Li, Nayyar Iqbal. Simvastatin vs Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes and Supplements: Randomized Primary Prevention Trial.

    Mayo Clinic Proceedings - July 2008 (Vol. 83, Issue 7, Pages 758-764, DOI: 10.4065/83.7.758)

  • Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol Levels, Inflammatory Markers: Italian Study

    A daily dose of red yeast rice safely reduces elevated cholesterol levels, decreases a marker of inflammation, and lowers markers of vascular remodeling, says a study from Italy that further supports the safety and efficacy of the supplement.

    Nutrition Research 2013 Aug;33(8):622-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.05.015. Epub 2013 Jul

    NutraIngredients USA:

  • Can Red Yeast Rice Lower Cholesterol?

    According to, a recent study supports previous research that suggests red yeast rice may lower cholesterol.

    Red yeast rice is the product of yeast (Monascus purpureus) grown on rice. A staple in some Asian countries, it contains substances known as monacolins, which inhibit the accumulation of cholesterol. In fact, monacolin K is also known as mevinolin or lovastatin--generic for Mevacor, a drug produced by Merck and Company, Inc.,

    Studies of red yeast rice's cholesterol-lowering properties date back to the 1970s. Red yeast rice has been shown to lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (also called LDL or "bad cholesterol"), and triglycerides. Products containing red yeast rice extract are available for purchase, but these products may not be standardized and the effects may not be predictable. Quality is important, and it is recommended that a healthcare provider be consulted before using red yeast rice.

    In the study, researchers randomly assigned 52 physicians and their spouses with high cholesterol to either take red yeast rice extract or a placebo for eight weeks.

    Natural Standard:

  • Renewed Support for Red Yeast Rice

    A study in the American Heart Journal reinforces that red yeast rice, a popular supplement, along with lifestyle changes, can help lower weight and LDL cholesterol.

    While statins like Lipitor and Zocor are better at treating high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, many patients can't tolerate or refuse the drugs due to side effects or cost. This has led to an explosion in the use of over-the-counter alternatives like red yeast rice and phytosterols, another plant-based supplement.

    American Heart Journal: 2013 Jul;166(1):187-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2013.03.019. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

    Philadelphia Inquirer:

  • Supplement May Be an Alternative for Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol

    A statin can be a lifesaver if you're at risk of heart disease, but some people who take the cholesterol-lowering drugs -- up to 20%, by some estimates -- have to stop because of muscle pain, the most common side effect. (Nearly 30 million people filled a statin prescription in 2005, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Statins include popular drugs such as Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor).

    Now a new study suggests that an over-the-counter dietary supplement sold at pharmacies and health-food stores may be a workable alternative for people who have statin-related muscle pain. It seems that when combined with diet and lifestyle changes, red yeast rice supplements can lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels by more than 20 percent without a substantial risk of muscle pain (also known as myalgia), according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


  • Tolerability of Red Yeast Rice in Patients With Previous Statin Intolerance

    Currently, no consensus has been reached regarding the management of hyperlipidemia in patients who develop statin-associated myalgia (SAM). Many statin-intolerant patients use alternative lipid-lowering therapies, including red yeast rice. The present trial evaluated the tolerability of red yeast rice versus pravastatin in patients unable to tolerate other statins because of myalgia. The study was conducted in a community-based setting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A total of 43 adults with dyslipidemia and a history of statin discontinuation because of myalgia were randomly assigned to red yeast rice 2,400 mg twice daily or pravastatin 20 mg twice daily for 12 weeks.

    All subjects were concomitantly enrolled in a 12-week therapeutic lifestyle change program. The primary outcomes included the incidence of treatment discontinuation because of myalgia and a daily pain severity score. The secondary outcomes were muscle strength and plasma lipids. The incidence of withdrawal from medication owing to myalgia was 5% (1 of 21) in the red yeast rice group and 9% (2 of 22) in the pravastatin group (p = 0.99). The mean pain severity did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. No difference was found in muscle strength between the 2 groups at week 4 (p = 0.61), week 8 (p = 0.81), or week 12 (p = 0.82). The low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level decreased 30% in the red yeast rice group and 27% in the pravastatin group. In conclusion, red yeast rice was tolerated as well as pravastatin and achieved a comparable reduction of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in a population previously intolerant to statins.

    American Journal of Cardiology: 15 January 2010 (Vol. 105, Issue 2, Pages 198-204, DOI: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.08.672).

  • Red Yeast Rice and Dyslipidemia

    A randomized, controlled trial through a community based cardiology practice found that Red Yeast Rice and therapeutic lifestyle change decrease LDL cholesterol level without increasing CPK or pain levels and may be a treatment option for dyslipidemic patients who cannot tolerate statin therapy. Below are the results and a link to the original article.

    In the red yeast rice group, LDL cholesterol decreased by 1.11 mmol/L (43 mg/dL) from baseline at week 12 and by 0.90 mmol/L (35 mg/dL) at week 24. In the placebo group, LDL cholesterol decreased by 0.28 mmol/L (11 mg/dL) at week 12 and by 0.39 mmol/L (15 mg/dL) at week 24. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level was significantly lower in the red yeast rice group than in the placebo group at both weeks 12 (PÂ &lt; 0.001) and 24 (PÂ = 0.011). Significant treatment effects were also observed for total cholesterol level at weeks 12 (PÂ &lt; 0.001) and 24 (PÂ = 0.016). Levels of HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, liver enzyme, or CPK; weight loss; and pain severity scores did not significantly differ between groups at either week 12 or week 24.

    Annals of Internal Medicine. 2009 Jun;150(12):830-839.

  • Are You Ready For Heart Health Month?

    From half-marathons to innumerable health fairs to buildings awash in red light, February is the time for heightened awareness of  heart health, and rightfully so.

    While the death rate from heart disease fell 39% between 2001 and 2011, heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the U.S. For women in particular, heart disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined, according to data from the 2015 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update.

    The Update lends insight into how much more must be done to address America’s heart problems. One in every three deaths, or nearly 787,000 people, was caused by heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. About 85.6 million Americans live with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke total more than $320.1 billion annually, including health expenditures and lost productivity.
    Heart disease prevention is key, according to the American College of Cardiology. The American Heart Association promotes “life’s Simple 7” health factors and behaviors that can drastically reduce risk of developing heart disease, which include not smoking, staying active, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy body weight, and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Along with proper screening and treatment for heart disease, these steps can help reduce the devastating impact that heart disease has on public health in the United States and around the world.
    Messages need to be strong, repeated, and reinforced to make the changes necessary to keep moving forward. Smoking is an example where enormous progress has been made but more must be done. Worldwide, tobacco smoking (including secondhand smoke) is one of the top three leading risk factors for disease, contributing to an estimated 6.2 million deaths in 2010. And yet estimates are that 16% students grades 9-12 report are smokers, while 20% of adult men and 16% of women continue to smoke.

    Cholesterol is another area where steady improvements have been made but much more is necessary to impact health. According to the 2015 Update, too many people have issues with the serum cholesterol levels. About 43%have total cholesterol higher of 200 mg/dl, while 13% has levels about 240 mg/dl. Nearly one of every three Americans has high levels of LDL cholesterol.

    Regarding hypertension, 80 million U.S. adults, or 33%, suffer from high blood pressure. About 69% of people who have a first heart attack, 77% who have a first stroke, and 74% who have congestive heart failure have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg, according to the American Heart Association.

    At Sylvan Therapeutics, we are dedicated to providing you with quality, 100% made in the USA products to support healthy cholesterol levels. Sylvan has been the sole manufacturer of USDA bulk organic Red Yeast Rice in the U.S. for over a decade. We utilize modern American aseptic manufacturing processes, vigorously test for and prevent unwanted pathogens, heavy metals and other contaminants, and source our ingredients within the U.S. For more information, contact us at 724-543-3900.


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