Skip The Statins

As popular as statins drugs are, the doctors who prescribe them are finding one unexpected problem: Up to 40 percent of their patients either stop taking them or they refuse to take them in the first place!

I’m not surprised. Statins carry a host of side effects, including gastrointestinal problems, headache, dizziness, fatigue, rash and sleep disturbances. More serious side effects include muscle weakness, myopathy, nerve damage, liver damage and rhabdomyolysis – the breakdown of muscle tissue that can lead to potentially fatal kidney failure.

Unfortunately, most doctors don’t know that there are natural alternative to statin drugs that are far safer and just as effective. So they take a different approach to this phenomenon. When scientists at the University of California, San Diego, investigated how doctors respond to patient reports of statin-related side effects, they found that most didn’t bother reporting these adverse events to the FDA. Instead, they denied that the drugs could cause undesirable symptoms, seemed not to care, told their patients they were imagining the pain, mistakenly attributed symptoms to aging or simply refused to believe their patients’ complaints!

But, as I said, there are alternatives. One of the best is red yeast rice. Red yeast rice is produced when a certain type of yeast, Monascus purpureus, is fermented over red rice. It has been used in Asian countries for more than a thousand years as both food and medicine. Recently, however, natural health practitioners in the U.S. and Europe have discovered its powerful cholesterol-lowering properties.

One recent clinical trial by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine gave 43 adults with high cholesterol either 2,400 mg. of red yeast rice or 20 mg. of Pravacol. After 12 weeks, they found that that red yeast rice was not only slightly more effective, it was also better tolerated than the statin drug.

Other studies have found that red yeast rice can lower both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. However, my conventional counterparts might be unfamiliar with this research. Here’s a quick run-down:

An eight-week study at the University of California, Los Angeles, compared red yeast rice with a placebo in 83 people with high cholesterol. The results, which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that the supplement significantly reduced total and LDL cholesterol.

In another study, which appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of physicians verified the significant cholesterol-lowering effect of red yeast rice in people who couldn’t tolerate statin drugs. The study included 62 people who stopped taking statins because of side effects. All of them followed a lifestyle change program that included learning about nutrition, exercise and relaxation techniques. Half also took 1,800 mg. of red yeast rice twice a day, while the others took a dummy pill. The group taking red yeast rice experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 43 points in a mere 12 weeks compared to just 11 points in the placebo group.

Other research in China, which has been published in the American Journal of Cardiology and other scientific journals, has found that red yeast rice significantly reduces rates of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease.

The reason red yeast rice works so well is because it contains a small amount of a natural statin called lovastatin. Lovastatin is the same compound found in the prescription drug, Mevacor. But unlike Mevacor, red yeast rice also contains other compounds like plant sterols that might have a positive impact on blocking cholesterol absorption. Researchers have also determined that another ingredient in red yeast rice called monacolin K inhibits the production of cholesterol by interfering with HMG-CoA reductase, a key enzyme in the liver responsible for manufacturing cholesterol.

But, even though red yeast rice is a natural product, because it acts like a statin, it can still impact the liver to some degree. That’s why it’s important to have your liver function checked periodically.

And like statins, red yeast rice may also inhibit the natural synthesis of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is needed for optimum heart health. Take 100 to 200 mg of CoQ10 daily when taking red yeast rice—or use a formula that combines red yeast rice and CoQ10.



Becker DJ. Red Yeast Rice for Dyslipidemia in Statin-Intolerant Patients: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2009; 150: 830-839.

Halbert SC. Tolerability of red yeast rice (2,400 mg twice daily) versus pravastatin (20 mg twice daily) in patients with previous statin intolerance. American Journal of Cardiology. 2010;105:198-204.

Yang HT. Acute administration of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) depletes tissue coenzyme Q(10) levels in ICR mice. British Journal of Nutrition. 2005;93:131-135.

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About the author


Dr. David Blyweiss is well-known across the world for his major advancements in alternative medicine.

He's traveled much of the world working closely with specialists to identify new plant life and natural products for possible human benefit.

In addition he has been successfully helping alternative medicine companies develop cutting-edge nutritional supplements for over 11 years. He's currently in private practice in Florida, serves on the advisory board for Advanced Natural Medicine, and is the senior supplement advisor at The Uniscience Group.


Anonymous's picture


This is great information, but it's also important to emphasize that cholesterol in and of itself is not an accurate predictor of heart attacks. The vast majority of folks who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol. We also have to remember that cholesterol is not evil, as even LDL is a carrieri for absolutely essential fat soluble vitamins. The condition of our arteries, due to inflammation and calcium deposition, is what we should be concerned with. In the last 10 years, the "acceptable" levels of cholesterol have plummeted with the marketing of new drugs. 10 years ago, levels of 260 were not of great concern. Now anyone with that level is put on statins. Ironically, as we age our cholesterol levels should go up to support hormone levels, brain function, as well as joint and muscle repair.

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