Red yeast rice is most commonly taken by mouth to lower cholesterol.
The active ingredient in red yeast rice is the same as one of the active ingredients in prescription drugs called statins. Statins are used for high cholesterol. That's why red yeast rice has all the same possible side effects, drug interactions, and precautions as statins. You should talk with your healthcare provider if you plan to take red yeast rice.
You may have come across a red yeast rice product called Cholestin, manufactured by Pharmanex. It was one of the most widely studied red yeast rice products. Originally, Cholestin contained the same active ingredient found in some statin drugs. This caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to call Cholestin an unapproved drug. Cholestin was reformulated so that its active ingredient is now something else.
In foods, red yeast rice is used as a food coloring for Peking duck.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Likely Effective for
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Research shows that taking red yeast rice products for up to 6 months can lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol, and triglycerides. But these red yeast rice products contain the same chemical as the "statin" drug lovastatin. Statins are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lower cholesterol. The FDA considers red yeast rice products that contain statins to be illegal unapproved drugs. But outside the U.S., red yeast rice products that contain statins are still available. Some red yeast rice products available in the U.S. contain little or no statins. It is not known if these red yeast rice products do much to reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
Possibly Effective for
- Abnormal levels of blood fats in people with HIV/AIDS. Taking red yeast rice by mouth seems to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with HIV infection.
- Heart attack. Taking 1.2 grams of red yeast rice extract daily for an average of 4.5 years decreases the risk of heart attacks and death in people with a history of heart attack.
Possibly Ineffective for
- High blood pressure. Taking red yeast rice combined with prescription blood pressure-lowering drugs does not seem to reduce blood pressure more than taking prescription blood pressure-lowering drugs alone.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Cancer. Some clinical research shows that taking 1.2 grams of red yeast rice daily for about 4.5 years reduces the risk of dying from cancer by 22% to 56%. But it's not known if red yeast rice reduces the risk of developing cancer.
- Diabetes. Some early research shows that taking 600 mg of red yeast rice daily for 8 weeks can lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar in people with diabetes. Other early research shows that taking 600 mg of red yeast rice twice daily for 12 weeks reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol in people with diabetes and liver disease.
- Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Some research shows that taking 600 mg of red yeast rice twice daily for 12 weeks reduces levels of liver enzymes associated with liver damage and improves levels of blood fats in people with diabetes and a certain type of liver disease not caused by alcohol use.
- Recovery after surgery. People who take red yeast rice prior to undergoing inpatient surgery seem to have a lower chance of death, bleeding, pneumonia, stroke, and other complications of surgery.
- Heart disease.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome).
- Improving blood circulation.
- Spleen and stomach problems.
- Other conditions.
Red yeast rice contains chemicals that are the same as the prescription drugs called "statins." Therefore, red yeast might also cause side effects similar to statin drugs, such as liver damage and severe muscle pain and muscle damage.
There is also concern about product quality. Many red yeast rice products have been found to have different amounts of the statin-type chemicals. Some products may contain none and others may contain high amounts, which are more likely to cause serious side effects.
Serious allergic reactions can occur after breathing in red yeast rice powder.
Red yeast rice that is not fermented correctly may contain citrinin. Citrinin is a poison that may cause kidney damage.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Red yeast rice is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Some chemicals in red yeast rice have caused birth defects in animals. Not enough is known about the safety of using red yeast rice during breast-feeding. Don't use during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
Liver problems: Red yeast rice contains chemicals that are the same as the statin drug lovastatin. Lovastatin can cause liver damage. Some research shows that red yeast rice might also cause liver damage to the same degree as lovastatin. However, other research shows that red yeast rice might not cause liver problems and might improve liver function in people with certain liver problems. Because of the mixed results, red yeast rice products should be used cautiously or avoided in people with liver problems.
Special Precautions and Warnings
We currently have no information for RED YEAST RICE overview.
Alcohol interacts with RED YEAST RICE
Drinking alcohol might harm the liver. Red yeast might also harm the liver. Taking red yeast along with alcohol might increase the risk of liver damage. Do not drink alcohol if you are taking red yeast.
Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) interacts with RED YEAST RICE
Red yeast might affect the muscles. Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might also affect the muscles. Taking red yeast along with cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might cause serious side effects.
Gemfibrozil (Lopid) interacts with RED YEAST RICE
Gemfibrozil (Lopid) can affect the muscles. Red yeast can also affect the muscles. Taking gemfibrozil along with red yeast might increase the risk of muscle problems.
Medications used for lowering cholesterol (Statins) interacts with RED YEAST RICE
Red yeast can help lower cholesterol. Taking red yeast along with other medications used to lower cholesterol might increase the risk of adverse effects. Do not take red yeast if you are already taking medications used for lowering cholesterol.
Some medications used for high cholesterol include cerivastatin (Baycol), atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and others.
Medications that decrease the break down of other medications in the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inhibitors) interacts with RED YEAST RICE
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Some medications might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down red yeast. Taking red yeast along with some medications that decrease the breakdown of other medications in the liver can increase the effects and side effects of red yeast. Before taking red yeast, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications that might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down red yeast include amiodarone (Cordarone), clarithromycin (Biaxin), diltiazem (Cardizem), erythromycin (E-mycin, Erythrocin), indinavir (Crixivan), ritonavir (Norvir), saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase), and many others.
Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs) interacts with RED YEAST RICE
Red yeast contains the statin drug lovastatin. Lovastatin might harm the liver in some people. Taking red yeast along with other medications that might also harm the liver might increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take red yeast if you are taking another medication that can harm the liver.
Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.
Niacin interacts with RED YEAST RICE
Niacin can affect the muscles. Red yeast can also affect the muscles. Taking niacin along with red yeast might increase the risk of muscle problems.
Be cautious with this combination
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia): 1200 mg to 2400 mg of red yeast rice once or twice daily for up to 4.5 years. Only products containing chemicals like the prescription "statin" cholesterol drugs have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Many of these products provide approximately 5-10 mg of the statin drug called lovastatin and may contain other ingredients. These products have included Cholestin (non-US, Pharmanex), Xuezhikang (Beijing WBL Peking University Biotech Co.), HypoCol (AsiaPharm Biotech), Zhibituo, and Red Yeast Rice (Sylvan Bioproducts). Red yeast rice products containing statins are considered illegal in the U.S.
- Abnormal levels of blood fats in people with HIV/AIDS: 1200 mg of a specific red yeast rice formulation (Cholestin, Pharmanex LLC) twice daily for 8 weeks.
- Heart attack: A specific product (Xuezhikang, Beijing Peking University WBL Biotech Co., Ltd.) containing 1200 mg of red yeast rice extract daily for about 4.5 years.
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