Red yeast rice alert 2. July 2008 William Davis (9) While there have been some positive reports in the media lately about the cholesterol-reducing effects of red yeast rice, Consumer Lab has issued a very concerning report. Because Consumer Lab is a subscription website (incidentally, the $20 per year membership fee is money well spent for insightful tests on many supplements, though new reports only come out a handful of times per year), I won't discuss the results of their red yeast rice in its entirety. However, Consumer Lab testing uncovered several disturbing findings:--The lovastatin content varied by a factor of 100, from 0.1 mg per tablet/capsule in one brand up to 10.6 mg in another brand. By FDA regulations, lovastatin is a drug and NO red yeast rice preparation is supposed to contain ANY lovastatin. Nonetheless, despite the marketing of supplement manufacturers, it is probably the lovastatin that is largely responsible for the LDL-reducing effect. The monacolins or mevinolins in red yeast rice add little, if any, further LDL-reducing effect. --Several preparations contain a potential kidney toxin called citrinin. The Walgreen's product, specifically, contained substantial quantities of this toxin.Interestingly, the FDA has taken repeated action against red yeast rice manufacturers and distributors because they continue to contain lovastatin. In the FDA's most recent action in August, 2007, for instance, Swanson's product and Sunburst Biorganics' Cholestrix, were both sent letters to stop selling their product because it contained lovastatin. The Consumer Lab findings would explain the enormous variation in LDL-reducing effect of various red yeast rice products. In my experience, some work and reduce LDL 40 mg/dl or so, some fail to reduce LDL at all, others generate a modest effect, e.g., 5-10 mg/dl LDL reduction.In effect, red yeast rice IS a statin drug, albeit a highly variable and weak one. Although readers of The Heart Scan Blog know that I am a big fan of nutritional supplements and self-empowerment in health, I am a bigger fan of truth. I despise B--- S---- of the sort that emits from some nutritional supplement manufacturers and drug companies. I am puzzled by much of the public's readiness to embrace a statin drug if it comes from a supplement company while avoiding it if it comes from a drug manufacturer. Personally, I do not like the drug industry, their questionable (at best) ethics, their aggressive marketing tactics, their sleazy sales people. But, in this instance, if a statin effect is desired, I'd reach for generic lovastatin before I purchased red yeast rice. The Consumer Lab report tells us that red yeast rice IS essentially a statin drug, an inconsistent one that often contains a potential toxin.