Red Yeast Rice
How Well Does Red Yeast Rice Lower Cholesterol?
Studies have shown that red yeast rice can significantly lower levels of total cholesterol and specifically LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. One showed that taking 2.4 grams per day of red yeast rice reduced LDL levels by 22% and total cholesterol by 16% in 12 weeks. Another study showed that taking 1.2 grams per day lowered LDL levels by 26% in just eight weeks.
However, the studies of red yeast rice have so far been fairly small and didn't last long enough to reveal the long-term effects.
What Is the Correct Dosage of Red Yeast Rice?
Since research into red yeast rice is still in its early stages, experts still aren't sure of what the ideal dose should be. The amounts taken in some studies have varied from 1.2 to 2.4 grams per day. In China and other countries, estimates of average daily consumption are much higher.
Keep in mind that amount of monacolin -- perhaps the most important ingredient -- in a red yeast rice extract can vary a lot. There are many different strains of the yeast. Different types of fermentation are used. One study of different brands of red yeast rice supplements showed that the amount of monacolin ranged from 0% to 0.58%.
So even though studies have shown that red yeast rice can lower cholesterol, you can't really know if the supplement brand you're using will have that effect.
What Are the Risks of Red Yeast Rice?
Studies have shown that red yeast rice side effects are mild, like headaches, heartburn, and upset stomach. Side effects from prescription lovastatin include elevation of liver enzymes and muscle enzymes, muscle problems, and liver problems.
But more research needs to be done before we can know about the long-term safety of red yeast rice. We do know that some types of red yeast rice may be more dangerous than others because of high levels of other substances such as citrinic acid.
Red yeast rice also shares some of the same risks as statins, the class of drugs containing lovastain. Experts say that the risks of lovastatin would logically apply to red yeast rice -- elevation of liver and muscle enzymes, muscle problems, and liver problems.