A plant poison becomes a money-spinner

By TheHindu on 05 Apr 2017 | read

“The most exquisite pleasure in the practice of medicine comes from nudging a layman in the direction of terror, then bringing him back to safety again.” — Kurt Vonnegut.

China has a valley in the north where the environment is very hostile — old, dark and lonely. Small plants live there very precariously. Red yeast rice is a very small plant there which has so many enemies locally as they find the rice tasty. Nature equips all of us, including red yeast rice plants, with tricks to live in spite of the hostile atmosphere. This rice produces a poison, lovastatin, which kills all foolish predators.

One researcher from the U.S. government found this poison and took it back home for further study. But it proved to be pretty useless from the U.S. Army’s point of view. However, this poison was seen to be blocking an important enzyme known as the HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme is responsible for cholesterol production in the liver. The pharma lobby found out that, lovastatin, in smaller doses, blocks cholesterol production in our liver.

By this time cholesterol, the main lifeline of our existence, was already made into a demon needing to be killed at any cost. Many of you might not know that it was a lie. But we believe in telling lies to people. Truth telling and medicine just do not go together. Those of you who want to know the truth should visit the site: www.thincs.org

The medical world did not have a good looking, tasty poison to bring down the cholesterol our own liver keeps producing for our good. “Right” thinking people in the pharma lobby must have had a brilliant idea. Why not use the Chinese red yeast rice plant poison to block the liver’s cholesterol factory?

The other leading drug that we had at that time was cholestyramine, sand like powder, which had to be taken three times a day in two large tablespoons. A majority of patients used to vomit and stop taking the medicine. The business was not too good in that area. The plant poison came in handy at that time.

Soon we created enough “evidence” to show that lovastatin reduces the cholesterol level in the blood report effectively. The FDA, in its inimitable style, approved this drug for lowering cholesterol. Industry sponsored “thought leaders” soon got into action to have several studies done to show how good this drug was and went round the world delivering talks based on company produced “science” and succeeded in convincing the gullible medical world about the virtues of this red yeast rice poison.

Special conferences were organised lavishly where the invited “scientists” were feasted and entertained to boost sales and it was shown that the drug company profits went up exponentially to make shareholders happy. The company executives laughed their way to their banks!

To give the reader the taste of one such conference on fat hypothesis in disease we will discuss that (in)famous Transatlantic Conference on Cholesterol, presided over by the famous Scottish scientist, Sir Michael Oliver, Professor of Cardiology at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh and for a term President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and an FRS himself. He was a no-nonsense scientist and the conference ended in total disagreement about the role fat plays in vascular disease!

While on his flight back over the Atlantic, Sir Michael was reading The New York Times, in which there was a report on that conference with a title: Consensus Conference on Cholesterol with his name mentioned. He was surprised and equally enraged at the blatant lie. When he landed in Edinburgh, he wrote an article in the Lancet titled Consensus or non-senses Conference on cholesterol? There was a long-drawn debate raging for a long time after. This will give you an idea how clouded the area is.

Now we have enough and more evidence to show how dangerous this red yeast rice poison is for the human body. While it definitely reduces the blood report of the fat profile, there is still no evidence that it reduces the outcome of premature death. In fact, we have evidence to show that in the long-run these drugs increase total mortality. In medical research, patient death is of no consequence. It is only a statistic! How does this happen? The enzyme HMG-CoA reductase blocks many other routes in the liver, the most important being production of Mevalonic acid, a vital part of good health and longevity.

There are rare births with congenital mevalonic acid deficiency. The child looks like an old man at one year and dies by the age of 2-3! If a doctor has seen a child with that disease, she/he will never prescribe this poison to any patient.

One other salient feature needs to be mentioned here. The cell wall in our body is made up of cholesterol. The wall has to be strong to be hydrophobic. Low cholesterol levels make cell walls weak, inviting cell necrosis, something that abets cancer growth!

Although the jury is still out on this poison, there is enough and more evidence to show that the red rice plant had this very powerful weapon to survive in that extremely hostile terrain in the cold valley of North China. I dare not prescribe that unless it is a terminal illness.

“… that statins are a widespread conspiracy aimed at fleecing the public and ruining their health. In fact, the majority of studies show that men, just like women, die more from heart disease if they have low cholesterol levels. And yet doctors are busy prescribing cholesterol-lowering medication to millions of men around the world.” — Campbell-McBride

( The writer is a cardiologist and former Vice-Chancellor, Manipal University. Email:hegdebm @gmail.com)