Xuezhikang, the extract of red yeast rice, has been widely used as a Chinese traditional medicine for the therapy of patients with cardiovascular diseases. It contains natural Lovastatin and its homologues, as well as unsaturated fatty acids, flavonoids, plant sterols and other biologically active substances
The product is a world-recognized blood lipid regulator, which is made by extracting from “specially-made red yeast rice”. It combines modern high-tech biotechnology with traditional Chinese medicine, which can safely and effectively regulate blood lipids in a comprehensive way with proven curative effects and reliable safety.
Pharmacological Effects: the product can reduce blood cholesterol, triglycerides, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, improve high density lipoprotein cholesterol, inhibit atherosclerotic plaque formation, and protect vascular endothelial cells; and inhibit lipid deposition in the liver. The large-scale evidence-based research has proven that long-term use of XUEZHIKANG can greatly reduce the risk of CHD occurrence and decrease the mortality. XUEZHIKANG is the only Chinese medicine with blood lipids regulating function which is listed into the National Basic Medicine List.
Beijing Peking University WBL Biotech (WPU) has developed and launched Xuezhikang, a capsule formulation of Monascus purpureus-fermented rice, for the oral treatment of hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease
CLINICAL TRIAL, NCT01327014 PHASE 2
The data had shown that Xuezhikang significantly reduced the level of low density lipoprotein cholesterin (LDL-C) in patients in a similar manner to statins and increased the level of the beneficial high density lipoprotein cholesterin (HDL-C). It had a good safety profile with no significant liver enzyme abnormal events observed. Besides regulation of dyslipidemia, the drug also signifcantly reduced cardiovascular events and general mortality rate of patients
NCT01686451 PHASE 4
Both XueZhiKang and Statins are cholesterol-lowering medications that are often prescribed for individuals with high cholesterol and who are at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Several studies, including one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, have suggested that the use of statins is more frequently associated with fatigue. And XueZhiKang may be not. The purpose of this study is to compare the effect of these two medications on fatigue in persons who are at moderate to low CVD risk based on the risk estimation system in ESC(European Society of Cardiology)/ESA(European Atherosclerosis Society) guidelines (2011) for the management of dyslipidemias.
Those of you with high cholesterol will be happy to learn that there are some legitimate options to your statin pills. Many people cannot tolerate the extremely popular statin pills, especially from side effects of muscle aches. But there’s now some very strong evidence that herbal medicines, including red yeast rice, can be at least as effective as a statin, and without the side effects. Too good to be true? Maybe not…
Red yeast rice is a bright reddish purple fermented rice, which acquires its colour from being cultivated with the mold Monascus purpureus. Red yeast rice is known as Zhi Tai when in powdered form but is called Xue Zhi Kang in alcohol extract form. This has been used in China for many centuries for many reasons, but researchers have been very interested in its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease (similar benefits from statins). It seems that the main active ingredient is indeed the natural form of a common statin, lovastatin — but researchers feel that other ingredients inside may add more protective effects. There is an official patented Chinese TCM formulation, called Xue Zhi Kang (xue2 zhi1 kang2 jiao nang 血脂康 胶囊), which has the equivalent of 10mg of lovastatin. The ScienceDaily website has a nice 2008 review of a well-designed study, printed in American Journal of Cardiology, which followed 5,000 persons after their first heart attack, and divided them into two groups taking either xuezhikang or placebo. After 5 years:
Frequencies of the primary end point were 10.4% in the placebo group and 5.7% in the XZK-treated group, with absolute and relative decreases of 4.7% and 45%, respectively. Treatment with XZK also significantly decreased CV and total mortality by 30% and 33%, the need for coronary revascularization by 1/3, and lowered total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, but raised high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. In conclusion, long-term therapy with XZK significantly decreased the recurrence of coronary events and the occurrence of new CV events and deaths, improved lipoprotein regulation, and was safe and well tolerated.
This is impressive data, and the study design is very well done, which means the evidence is quite strong. One co-author, Dr Capuzzi, has a nice summary:
“It’s very exciting because this is a natural product and had very few adverse side effects including no abnormal blood changes,” said Capuzzi. “People in the Far East have been taking Chinese red yeast rice as food for thousands of years, but no one has ever studied it clinically in a double-blind manner with a purified product against a placebo group until now and we are pleased with the results. However, people in the United States should know that the commercially available over-the-counter supplement found in your average health food store is not what was studied here. Those over-the-counter supplements are not regulated, so exact amounts of active ingredient are unknown and their efficacy has not been studied yet.”
In another randomized trial study, printed last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients who had previously failed treatment of statins due to side effects were given 1800mg of red yeast rice twice a day versus placebo. The red yeast rice group had a significant improvement in cholesterol numbers — with no major reports of severe muscle aches they previously had on the statins.
There are other studies that also show similar benefits. In fact, the evidence is so strong that it is classified as Grade A evidence: “Strong scientific evidence for use”. This is the highest grade that any therapy can get. There are a number of good reviews of red yeast rice in Western literature, including from Medscape; the Mayo Clinic; WebMD; MedlinePlus; and NCCAM. There’s also more informal information from the TCM blog Qi Spot. You can find more scholarly information in the 2008 review from Chinese Medical Journal.
(U.S. patent #6,046,022), ethanol extract of red yeast rice, with a total monacolins content of approx. 0.8%.
1 Heber D et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of a proprietary Chinese red-yeast-rice dietary supplement. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999;69(2): 231-236
2) SoRelle R. Appeals court says Food and Drug Administration can regulate cholestin. Circulation 200;102 (7): E9012?E9013.
3) Li, C et al. Monascus purpureus-fermented rice (red yeast rice): a natural food product that lowers blood cholesterol in animal models of hypercholesterolemia. Nutrition Research 1998;18 (1): 71-81
4) Becker DJ et al. Red yeast rice for dyslipidemia in statin-intolerant patients: a randomized trial.Ann Intern Med. 2009 Jun 16;150(12):830-9, W147-9
5) Lu Z et al.Effect of Xuezhikang, an extract from red yeast Chinese rice, on coronary events in a Chinese population with previous myocardial infarction. Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jun 15;101(12):1689-93.
Hypochol is the same product. Xuezhikang is the brand name marketed in China. Hypochol, is manufactured by a Singapore comapany who have a joint venture agreement with Peking University who perfected the processing and quality control of the Red Yeast Rice Extract Product. You can order directly from: http://www.hypocol.com/wbm.html
or thru their New Zealand distributor (very good service) at: http://www.hypocol.co.nz/
Red yeast rice (simplified Chinese: 红曲米; traditional Chinese: 紅麴米); pinyin: hóng qū mǐ; literally “red yeast rice”), red rice koji (べにこうじ, lit. ‘red koji‘) or akakoji (あかこぎ, also meaning ‘red koji‘), red fermented rice, red kojic rice, red koji rice, anka, or ang-kak, is a bright reddish purple fermented rice, which acquires its colour from being cultivated with the mold Monascus purpureus.
Red yeast rice is what is referred to, in Japanese, as a koji, meaning ‘grain or bean overgrown with a mold culture’, a food preparation tradition going back to ca. 300 BC. In both the scientific and popular literature in English that draws principally on Japanese, it is most often known as “red rice koji“. English works favoring Chinese sources may prefer the translation “red yeast rice”.
In addition to its culinary use, red yeast rice is also used in Chinese herbology and traditional Chinese medicine. Its use has been documented as far back as the Tang Dynasty in China in 800 AD. It is taken internally to invigorate the body, aid in digestion, and revitalize the blood. A more complete description is in the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia, Ben Cao Gang Mu-Dan Shi Bu Yi, from the Ming Dynasty (1378–1644).
What other names is Red Yeast known by?
Arroz de Levadura Roja, Cholestin, Hong Qu, Koji Rouge, Levure de Riz Rouge, Monascus, Monascus purpureus, Monascus Purpureus Went, Red Rice, Red Rice Yeast, Red Yeast Rice, Red Yeast Rice Extract, Riz Rouge, Xue Zhi Kang, XueZhiKang, XZK, Zhibituo, Zhi Tai.
Red yeast is the product of rice fermented with Monascus purpureus yeast. Red yeast supplements are different from red yeast rice sold in Chinese grocery stores. People use red yeast as medicine.
Possibly Effective for…
- High cholesterol.
- High cholesterol and triglyceride levels caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease (AIDS).
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…
- Indigestion, diarrhea, improving blood circulation, spleen and stomach problems, and other conditions.
In the late 1970s, researchers in the United States and Japan were isolating lovastatin from Aspergillus and monacolins fromMonascus, respectively, the latter being the same fungus used to make red yeast rice but cultured under carefully controlled conditions. Chemical analysis soon showed that lovastatin and monacolin K are identical. The article “The origin of statins” summarizes how the two isolations, documentations and patent applications were just months apart. Lovastatin became the patented, prescription drug Mevacor for Merck & Co. Red yeast rice went on to become a contentious non-prescription dietary supplement in the United States and other countries.
Lovastatin and other prescription “statin” drugs inhibit cholesterol synthesis by blocking action of the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. As a consequence, circulating total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol are lowered. In a meta-analysis of 91 randomized clinical trial of ≥12 weeks duration, totaling 68,485 participants, LDL-cholesterol was lowered by 24-49% depending on the statin. Different strains ofMonascus fungus will produce different amounts of monacolins. The ‘Went’ strain of Monascus purpureus (purpureus = dark red in Latin), when properly fermented and processed, will yield a dried red yeast rice powder that is approximately 0.4% monacolins, of which roughly half will be monacolin K (identical to lovastatin). Monacolin content of a red yeast rice product is described in a 2008 clinical trial report.
- Website about medicinal use of Monascus purpureus
- Medicinal use of Red yeast rice
- Fermentiertes Rotes Reismehl (in German)