Red yeast rice sends cholesterol plunging

Q. Ten years ago, I had a heart attack. I was sent home from the hospital with eight different prescription medications.

Within two months, I felt like a 90-year-old arthritic, although I was only 55 at the time. I told my doctor about the effects of the medications. He took me off one med each week to see if there was a change.

He determined that simvastatin was causing the problem, but he said I could not stop taking a statin for cholesterol control. I chose to switch to over-the-counter red yeast rice instead.

Within two days, the side effects ceased. Within six months, my cholesterol had dropped 50 points. I also changed my diet to include lots of fruits and vegetables, stopped eating processed foods and reduced my salt intake. I started walking five days a week for at least 30 minutes per day.

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I am no longer on any prescription drugs, and my health is very much improved. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

A. Red yeast rice has been used in Chinese cuisine for over 1,000 years. It also has been used in Chinese medicine for indigestion and circulation.

Modern research has demonstrated that RYR contains statin-type compounds and lowers cholesterol (Atherosclerosis, June 2015). Although it acts much like simvastatin on blood lipids, RYR is less likely to cause muscle aches and fatigue (BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, online, May 18, 2017). Some people are so sensitive to statins, however, that they react even to RYR. We offer more information about this and other nondrug approaches to cholesterol control in our book “Quick & Handy Home Remedies.” It is available at

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