Red Yeast Rice – Is It Worth The Hype? Learn Its Benefits, Side Effects & More

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Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Apr 22, 2015 | Last Updated: Nov 29, 2018

Red Yeast Rice

What is Red Yeast Rice?

Red Yeast refers to the kind of a rice which has been fermented with bacteria known as Monascus purpureus. It has been used in China for centuries as a food preservative, colorant, spice, and in the preparation of rice wine. It is a dietary staple for different communities living in China, Japan, and other Asian countries. In the U.S., it is estimated that every person consumes an average of 14 to 55 grams of red yeast rice every day. The Chinese have used Red Yeast for hundreds of years for medicinal purposes in dealing with digestion problems, diarrhea, and in boosting blood circulation.

Where does it Comes From?

Red Yeast originated from China over a thousand years ago. There is some evidence indicating that Red Yeast has been cultivated for over 11,000 years. Due to its health benefits, Red Yeast rice continues gaining popularity and is currently been cultivated in many parts of the world

Health Benefits of Red Yeast Rice

Health Benefits of Red Yeast Rice

Over the recent past, Chinese and American scientists have developed red yeast as a remedy for lowering blood lipids, including triglycerides and cholesterol. In a study conducted by the researchers from University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found out that red yeast helped lower cholesterol levels in participants by 22% in a period of 12 weeks. High level of cholesterol in blood has been directly linked to artery-clogging plague that leads to heart attack. Other studies suggest that some ingredients in red yeast rice have antioxidant effects which make food more beneficial to our health. Other health problems addressed by red yeast include diarrhea, hangovers, high blood pressure, inflammation, liver disorders, ovarian cancer, indigestion, spleen problems, and wounds among others.

What are the Potential Side Effects of Red Yeast Rice?

Currently, there are no long-term side effects associated with red yeast rice. Generally side effects or interactions of red yeast seem to be similar to those of low-dose of statin drugs which contain a chemical compound known as monacolin K. Short-term side effects may include colon inflammation, anorexia, back pain, loose stools, flu, hair loss, stomachache, fatigue, and constipation. Red yeast should be used cautiously if you have skin disorders, abnormal liver function, kidney problems, stomach problems, dizziness, headache, musculoskeletal disorder, diabetes, iron deficiency, bleeding disorder, thyroid disorder, or a weakened immune system.

Recommended Dosage and Timing for Red Yeast Rice

Although most herbs and supplements have not been tested, the recommended dosages and timing for red yeast rice are based on publications, scientific research, traditional use or expert opinion. It is important to read the product details as ingredients may vary within the same brand. Manufacturers of red yeast recommend a daily dosage of 1,200 milligrams of red yeast powder which comes as a capsule to be taken along with food twice every day. This recommendation suits people aged 18 years and above. If you are dealing with coronary heart disease, take 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams of red yeast rice by mouth every day for between 2 and 12 weeks. Although red yeast rice is common in form of capsules, it can be obtained in other forms like tablets, teas, tinctures or powder.

Use of Red Yeast Rice in Supplements

Red yeast is usually sold as an herbal supplement but lacks regulated manufacturing standards. While combined with exercise, healthy diet and proper medical care, red yeast helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Since not all the uses of red yeast have been approved by the FDA, it should not replace medication prescribed by a doctor.

Must Watch – Red Yeast Rice Overview

Red Yeast Rice Interactions

If you are on red yeast supplementation, avoid taking alcohol as it can lead to liver damage. Grapefruit and grapefruit juices can also cause adverse effects when combined with red yeast. It is important to consult your doctor before using red yeast if you are taking medications such as antibiotics, cyclosporine, antifungal drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, ARVs, niacin and others. Inform your health care giver of all the prescribed medications, over-the-counter, vitamin and herbal products you are already taking to avoid possible interactions with red yeast rice. Stop using red yeast and seek immediate help from a doctor if you experience signs such as muscle pain, fatigue, colored urine, fever and urinating less than often after taking red yeast rice extract products.

Conclusion

Red yeast Rice has been in use for centuries across Asia as a remedy for various health conditions including weight loss, lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risks of heart attack. While its supplements may offer a lot of health benefits, caution is necessary due to possible interactions and side effects that can occur. It is important to consult your doctor before you consider using any herbal supplement including red yeast rice extracts. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on the package or as directed by your doctor. Stop the use of red yeast rice if you notice any adverse side effects or interactions and contact a qualified professional at once.

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