OsteoScreen, a Texas-based bone screening laboratory, has been awarded a patent for the use of red yeast rice as an ingredient in its OsteoPure bone-building supplement.
Researchers from OsteoScreen discovered that a particular strain of red yeast rice had the ability to generate new bone, an important breakthrough since the body sees a natural reduction in bone density as it ages, leading to problems such as osteoporosis.
Chinese medicine has long recognised the importance of red yeast rice, made by fermenting the strain of yeast called Monascus purpureus. However, in China the product is generally used to aid digestion, move the blood, strengthen the spleen and cure diarrhoea. In the US, it is primarily used as a cholesterol lowering agent or as a food colouring.
The patented technology was used by OsteoScreen to test the various strains of red yeast rice to discover which, if any, were capable of generating bone activity. Scientists discovered that many strains were not bone active at all, and only the strain that is the most bone active is acceptable for OsteoPure supplements.
OsteoPure, one of the few bone-building supplements which is not based on calcium, is marketed by Marathon Nutrifoods, a unit of OsteoScreen. It is currently available in selected areas of Florida, but a nationwide rollout is planned soon.