The bark derived from this tree grown in India has been shown in clinical studies to lower cholesterol by 30% and triglycerides by 34%.
In a study of 5,000 people who have suffered a heart attack, those who took an extract of red yeast rice for five years reduced their risk of a repeat heart attack by up to 45 percent!
Red Yeast Rice is a nutritional supplement that is manufactured by fermenting rice with yeast. It is listed in the Chinese Pharmacopeia as a medicinal food because of its ability to support healthy cholesterol levels and blood circulation.
Red yeast rice benefits have been known in China as far back as the Tang Dynasty in 800 A.D. It was used to treat all sorts of ailments, including problems with blood flow, spleen, stomach ailments and pain relief.
It has been a staple in Asian diets for centuries and contains several compounds known to inhibit cholesterol. The most popular one is known "monacolin K" and this compound reduces cholesterol by blocking the action of HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in your liver.
Red yeast rice is a weaker statin than its pharmaceutical cousins, which is a significant benefit.
A study led cardiologists, Dr. David Becker, MD and Ram Gordon, MD came up with some good news about red yeast rice.
They conducted a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study that was published in the June 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine and included 62 patients with high cholesterol.
Half the group took 600 mg red yeast rice cholesterol supplement twice daily for six months. The other half received placebo. After six months, LDL cholesterol (the so called bad cholesterol) levels decreased an average of 35 mg.
The placebo group did not see these benefits.
In a the study presented to the American Heart Association, 187 people had mild-to-moderately high levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The study showed that taking red yeast rice reduced total cholesterol by more than 16%, LDL cholesterol by 21%, and triglycerides by 24%. HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol which benefits the heart) also went up by 14%.
In another 8-week study of 446 people with high cholesterol, those who took red yeast rice had a drop in cholesterol levels compared to those who took placebo. Total cholesterol fell by 22.7%, LDL by 31%, and triglycerides by 34% in the red yeast rice group. HDL cholesterol went up by a whopping 20% in the red yeast rice group as well.
Side effects common to statins such as muscle pain, cramps or liver enzyme elevations did not occur in the red yeast rice cholesterol supplement group.
Red Yeast Rice cholesterol supplement also lowered their chances of having a heart procedure such as bypass surgery or angioplasty, and even appeared to reduce their risk of cancer by as much as two-thirds.
Scientists conducting the studies generally believe that red yeast rice is safe in the long-term since it has been a food staple for thousands of years in Asian countries without reports of toxicity.
On his blog Dr. Oz answers a question about the safety and side effects of red yeast rice cholesterol supplements. His answer was,
"Although red yeast rice is widely available without a prescription and appears to have fewer side effects compared to statin drugs, it is important to remember that it is, in effect, a natural pharmaceutical that should be used under a physician's direction."