Red Yeast RiceMonascus purpureus
Red yeast rice is a traditional Chinese substance made by fermenting a type of yeast called
over rice. Various formulations of this product have been used in China since at least 800 AD as a food and also as a medicinal substance within the context of
What Is Red Yeast Rice Used for Today?
Red yeast rice is thought to be effective for lowering cholesterol, presumably because of its statin constituents. There is evidence to support this use.
An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 83 people with high cholesterol evaluated red yeast rice. 1
In a carefully conducted review of 93 randomized trials involving almost 10,000 patients, researchers concluded that red yeast rice can significantly lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, and raise levels of HDL compared with placebo.
A double-blind study performed in China compared an alcohol extract of red yeast rice (Xuezhikang) against placebo in almost 5,000 people with heart disease.
Because red yeast rice is essentially a drug supplied by a natural product, and this drug has many
The dosage of red yeast rice used in most studies is 1.2 to 2.4 g of red yeast rice powder daily. However, due to patent-infringement suits by the manufacturer of a statin drug that is naturally present in red yeast rice, the most studied red yeast rice product has been taken off the market, and it is not clear whether the remaining products have greater or lesser potency. Note : The herb St. John’s wort
In clinical trials, use of red yeast rice has not been associated with any significant side effects. However, red yeast rice contains naturally occurring statin drugs, and use of statin drugs can cause side effects ranging from minor to life-threatening. Some of the most common include muscle pain, joint pain, liver inflammation, and peripheral nerve damage; severe breakdown of muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis) leading to kidney failure has also occurred. It is almost certain that red yeast rice can cause the same problems if it is used by enough people, and there are at least two case reports in the literature of muscle injury caused by red yeast rice; in one case, rhabdomyolosis developed. 2,3
Based on the known effects of statins, pregnant or nursing women, women likely to become pregnant, young children, and people with liver or kidney disease should not use red yeast rice. Furthermore, red yeast rice should not be combined with
Statin drugs are known to interfere with the body’s ability to produce the natural substance
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking fibrate drugs
If you use red yeast rice to keep your cholesterol levels down, taking the herb
10. Du BM, Lu ZL, Chen Z, et al. The beneficial effects of lipid-lowering therapy with Xuezhikang on cardiac events and total mortality in coronary heart disease patients with or without hypertension: a random, double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial. Zhonghua Xin Xue Guan Bing Za Zhi . 2006;34:890-894.
12. Andren L, Andreasson A, Eggertsen R. Interaction between a commercially available St. John's wort product (Movina) and atorvastatin in patients with hypercholesterolemia. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2007 Aug 15. [Epub ahead of print]
14. Zhao SP, Lu ZL, Du BM, et al. Xuezhikang, an extract of cholestin, reduces cardiovascular events in type 2 diabetes patients with coronary heart disease: subgroup analysis of patients with type 2 diabetes from China coronary secondary prevention study (CCSPS). J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2007;49:81-84.
15. Ye P, Lu ZL, Du BM, et al. Effect of xuezhikang on cardiovascular events and mortality in elderly patients with a history of myocardial infarction: a subgroup analysis of elderly subjects from the China Coronary Secondary Prevention Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007;55:1015-1022.
16. Lu Z, Kou W, Du B, et al. Effect of xuezhikang, an extract from red yeast chinese rice, on coronary events in a chinese population with previous myocardial infarction. Am J Cardiol. 2008;101:1689-1693.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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