Noting that many patients don't take their cholesterol-lowering statins because of side effects like muscle pain, a researcher from the Department of Medicine at Columbia University gave 18 people with high cholesterol an all-natural, cholesterol-lowering powdered shake (with almond, soy or low-fat milk) that contained 1,200 mg of red yeast rice and 1,250 mg of phytosterols. (They drank the shake twice a day.) After six weeks of drinking the shake twice a day, total cholesterol dropped by an average of 19% and LDL cholesterol by 33%.
"This magnitude of reduction in LDL cholesterol is significantly greater than the 28% reduction observed in the 1999 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) meta-analysis on the average effectiveness of statin medications in lowering cholesterol levels," reported the doctors in the Journal of Dietary Supplements. "None of the participants in our study reported any muscle pains," they added.
In another recent study, researchers at Florida Atlantic University studied 59 people, giving half of them a drink containing red yeast rice. After four weeks, those taking the drink had a 13% drop in total cholesterol and an 18% drop in LDL. "A nutraceutical drink with red yeast rice can be a safe and effective natural alternative to pharmacologic therapies for people intolerant to or refusing statins," concluded the researchers in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.
 "Powdered red yeast rice and plant stanols and sterols to lower cholesterol." Feuerstein JS, Bjerke WS, J Diet Suppl. 2012 Jun;9(2):110-5. Epub 2012 Apr 25.
 "A multicenter study of nutraceutical drinks for cholesterol (evaluating effectiveness and tolerability)." Karl M, et al. J Clin Lipidol. 2012 Mar-Apr;6(2):150-8. Epub 2011 Sep 21.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.