Red Yeast Rice
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. It may not be safe for everyone. You should not take it if you:
- Have kidney disease
- Have liver disease
- Are pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
In addition, anyone taking one of the following medicines should not use red yeast rice:
- Statins to control cholesterol such as Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Pravachol, and Zocor
- Other cholesterol drugs such as Lopid and Tricor
- Drugs to suppress the immune system, like cyclosporine
- Antifungal drugs such as Diflucan, Nizoral, and Sporanox
- The antibiotics erythromycin and Biaxin
- Serzone, an antidepressant
- Protease inhibitors, used to treat HIV
People who have allergies to fungus or yeast should also be wary of using red yeast rice.
Red yeast rice may also interact with other drugs for blood pressure and thyroid problems and interact with other herbs and supplements you may be taking.
Whatever the state of your health, always talk to your doctor before you start using red yeast rice or any other supplement. Remember that all brands are not equal, and that red yeast rice isn't safe for everyone. Though red yeast rice looks like a promising treatment, more research needs to be done. For now, you should be cautious.