CNN recently interviewed Dr. Catherine Ulbricht, co-founder of Natural Standard and Senior Attending Pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital, about the safety and effectiveness of red yeast rice supplements, which are popularly used to lower cholesterol.
The news article highlights a recent study that found that red yeast rice supplements may contain varying amounts of monacolins, the active ingredients responsible for their cholesterol-lowering effects. One of these ingredients, monacolin K, has the same chemical structure as the prescription drugs lovastatin and mevinolin.
The researchers purchased 12 commercial red yeast rice supplements and analyzed them for their monacolin content. Although the products were said to contain 600 milligrams of red yeast rice, they contained anywhere from 0.31 to 11.15 milligrams of monacolins per capsule.
Many supplements, including red yeast rice, are not standardized to contain specific ingredients or dosages, Dr. Ulbricht told CNN.
Four of the supplements also contained detectable amounts of citrinin, a toxin that has been shown to cause kidney damage in animals.
Red yeast rice has also been studied as a potential therapy for coronary artery disease and diabetes, although evidence of effectiveness is currently inconclusive in these areas.
For more information about red yeast rice, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements database. To schedule an expert interview or book signing with Dr. Ulbricht, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.