American researchers have found red yeast rice to be effective in treating hyperlipidemia the elevation of potentially damaging lipids in the blood but who cannot tolerate statin treatment.
The herbal supplement was found to be effective in reducing the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level among 62 patients with hyperlipidemia and a history of discontinuation of statin therapy due to myalgias.
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, the researchers concluded.
Given our positive results, our approach may provide a therapeutic lipid-lowering option for the large cohort of patients with a history of SAM (statin-associated myalgias).
In the randomized, controlled trial, patients were assigned either 1800 mg of red rice twice daily or placebo for 24 weeks. All patients were concomitantly enrolled in a 12-week therapeutic lifestyle change programme.
LDL cholesterol levels were measured at baseline, week 12, and week 24 and secondary outcomes included total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglyceride, liver enzyme, and creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) levels; weight; and Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) score.
For the 31 patients 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.
While the researchers acknowledged that the study was small, single-site, short in duration and focused on laboratory measures, they stated the LDL level was significantly in the red rice group.
Levels of HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, liver enzyme, or CPK; weight loss; and BPI did not change significantly.
The researchers called for more study, especially those taking red rice supplements for more than six months, and said many questions remained unanswered.
* Does red yeast rice reduce the incidence of myalgias
when directly compared with statin therapy?
* Is red yeast rice effective in patients with previous SAM who are not enrolled in a lifestyle change program?
* Did the therapeutic lifestyle change program alone play a positive role in decreasing the risk for recurrent myalgias in our cohort (for example, through improved mood or the role of exercise and weight loss)?
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine
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