(RxWiki News) A "natural" alternative to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, red yeast rice supplements vary widely in how much active ingredient they contain and some are even contaminated.
The finding arrives as part of a study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who said regulators should consider stricter policing of these products.
The researchers tested 12 products that are commercially available and found considerable variation in the amount of active ingredients contained in the 600 mg supplements. Some of these products include: 21st Century 100 percent Vegetarian Red Yeast Rice Extract from 21st Century Healthcare in Tempe, Ariz., and Schiff New Red Yeast Rice from Schiff Nutrition Group in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The researchers did not specify which products had the highest and lowest levels of active ingredient.
Red Yeast Rice has been around for over a thousand years, according to Dr. Mark Bans, a Chiropractic Physician who is also schooled in alternative mind-body-emotions-energy techniques. But, he added, it wasn't until the last 40 years that it's main chemical components were geared toward making specific statin treatments.
Dr. Bans said he believes Consumer Advocacy Groups (instead of the FDA) should determine which natural theapies are considered effective.
"If the FDA is allowed to have control over all food, food products, and food supplements, then we will be left with a smorgasbord of pharmaceuticals and neutraceuticals, all the while forgetting that nature provided us with natural methods and means of healing, which is where the statin drugs and most other drugs came from in the first place," Dr. Bans said.
Side effects of rice yeast rice supplements can include stomach discomfort, heartburn, intestinal gas, and dizziness. Additionally, the supplements may cause similar side effects as prescription statins (the best-selling class of drugs in the world) such as muscle and liver damage.