The Red Yeast Rice Controversy
I love using natural medicine! It is my passion.
I don’t like it when products that are labeled as natural medicines contain pharmaceutical drugs.
I do not use Red Yeast Rice in my practice because of my concern that it really contains lovastatin, a prescription cholesterol lowering drug.
Red Yeast Rice is a very popular natural supplement – for some companies it is their number one best seller. However, a recent letter to consumers from the FDA about Swanson, a distributor of supplements, shows that the prescription drug lovastatin was found in its Red Yeast Rice supplement product.
Some folks argue that this prescription drug exists naturally in Red Yeast Rice. I believe that it does, but to much lower levels than what would be effective. Researchers in Japan found a way to modify Red Yeast Rice so that it contains larger amounts of lovastatin. Wild Red Yeast Rice does not effectively lower cholesterol.
As I was researching this subject several months ago, I found that I could order from a supplement wholesaler Red Yeast Rice that contains standardized amounts of Lovastatin. That is right. I make my own Red Yeast Rice product and put it in a bottle with my label on it and I can decide how much Lovastatin you get per capsule.
I do not think that prescription drugs are inherently bad. But I strongly feel that when a person is taking a prescription drug with possible side effects they should know it, their physicians should know it, and they should be monitored accordingly. The side effects of lovastatin are numerous, but most are not serious.
So, in my natural medicine dispensary – in the junk bin – I have several bottles of over the counter Red Yeast Rice that will lower my patients’ cholesterol. I will not sell it to a patient unless my he or she is fully informed that they are taking a statin and is willing to be monitored accordingly.
So far, all have chosen another route or to get their statin from a medical doctor because it is covered by insurance while the dietary supplement with lovastatin is not.
Most alternative medicine providers and supplement purveyors will disagree with me. I think that my view will prove correct. In the meantime, I would rather err on the side of caution and informing my patients of the current concerns.