Red yeast rice for LDL cholesterol

A blow to statins from an unexpected source
We all know statins are…well…terrible. They can bring on muscle pain, liver damage, and weakness, yet they remain the darlings of the mainstream. So I have to say I was shocked when I saw one of the newest studies in a major mainstream journal.

Could it be? Has a major mainstream medical journal really published a study that could help dethrone the mighty statin?

I was absolutely shocked when a doctor friend sent me the study—but there it was, in all its statin-busting glory.

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I have to say I’m surprised Big Pharma let this one slip by. In a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at the effect of red yeast rice on LDL cholesterol.

Patients who’d had to stop taking statins because of chronic muscle pain were given red yeast rice (1800 mg twice daily) or placebo for 24 weeks. All patients also switched to a “therapeutic lifestyle” for 12 weeks of the study.

The researchers were investigating the effectiveness of red yeast rice, of course, but they were also keeping a close eye on a few other things—pain levels, patients’ livers, and CPK level, which indicates injury or stress to the heart, brain, or muscles.

The conclusion? “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.”

Hmmm. The “who cannot tolerate statin therapy” seems like a pretty strong nod to Big Pharma. But really—isn’t that EVERYONE? With side effects like muscle weakness, pain, mental decline, and liver damage; I’m certainly not feeling very tolerant.

It might not seem like much, and maybe I’m feeling a little too optimistic this morning, but I’m encouraged that the mainstream seems to finally be willing to look at alternatives for their (wrongly) celebrated drugs. Of course, it should be their duty, considering their standard is poison.

There’s still a long way to go—not a day goes without my seeing at least one report on the next miracle application of statins. Statins for infection, for MS, even for COPD…No matter how much evidence piles up for the dangers of statin use, the mainstream wants to throw the drug at whatever they can. And I’m sure we’re not going to see that change for a while.

Of course, using red yeast rice to lower cholesterol is nothing new to Dr. Wright. You can read more by searching “red yeast rice” in the online archive at

“Red yeast rice for dyslipidemia in statin-intolerant patients: a randomized trial,” Ann Intern Med. 2009; 150(12):830-9, W147-9 (ISSN: 1539-3704)