A controversial dietary supplement sold in the U.S., Cholestin can lower cholesterol levels, according to two studies presented this week at a health conference in Florida.
Cholestin is made from rice fermented in red yeast (it’s what gives Peking Duck and spareribs their red color). Cholestin is consistent with supplements that have been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years, says Dr. James Rippe, one of the co-authors of a study conducted in the U.S.
In the U.S. study, 233 elderly Americans dropped their cholesterol levels by 16 percent after taking the supplement for eight weeks. A second study conducted in China found 70 elderly people experiencing a 19% drop in cholesterol levels.
While figures from both studies seem impressive, Dr. Robert H. Eckel, chairman of the AHA’s Nutrition Committee and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, would choose a prescription over the supplement. He says that cholesterol lowering prescription drugs currently on the market can decrease levels by 25-55% and these drugs are “well-tolerated, safe, and we’ve had experience with them for well over a decade.” The American Heart Association seems to concur, saying that Cholestin’s study results were preliminary and urged caution until long-term studies have been done on its safety and efficacy.
In spite of such advice, Pharmanex, the company that produces Cholestin, stands by their product and continues to visit physicians throughout the U.S., touting the benefits of their all-natural cholesterol treatment.
www.cnn.com, March 25, 1999
NOTE: The CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Health Resource does not currently carry Cholestin. While we are intrigued by its results, we will wait until the product’s safety and efficacy have been further tested.