Red Rice Yeast extract is an excellent natural supplement derived from yeast (monascus purpureus) grown on white rice.  Although the substance has a long history in Asian medicine, it has only recently come to the states.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is used to treat “phlegm” in the vessels.  Its modern clinical use is to reduce LDL and Triglycerides in the blood, and improve total Cholesterol.


Red Rice Yeast contains beta-sterols, monounsaturated fats, and monacolin K; the very same ingredient that is found in the most popular drug for high cholesterol, lovastatin.   This explains both its efficacy as well as why pharmaceutical companies have tried to get it off the market.  Very predictable in effect, this supplement will lower your cholesterol.


So if it is similar to lovastatin, why use it and not the pharmaceutical?  The reason is that the potential side effects of statins tend to be worse then Red Rice Yeast.  Statins do a great job of improving the lipid profile, however they come with some side effects.  Studies have shown fewer side effects such as muscle pain and liver toxicity when using the supplement.  The downside is that supplements are much less regulated and it is possible that one may get varying amounts of the active ingredients in a natural product. Thus, it is very important to source your supplements and go with a known producer who tests their products.


If you are considering using Red Rice Yeast in lieu of a statin or wishing to switch from the pharmaceutical to the supplement, you will want to know it is working.  Make sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner to keep on eye your lipid levels before and during treatment.