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Red Yeast Rice

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Red Yeast Rice

In China, rice has long been fermented with yeast (Monascus purpureus) to produce food and medicine. Called red yeast rice, the substance formed is used in cooking as well as in traditional folk remedies. Western medicine has begun to investigate the health benefits of red yeast rice. Some scientists believe that red yeast rice may reduce how much cholesterol the liver produces. This can be beneficial for individuals who have high cholesterol and are at an increased risk of heart disease. More research is needed to prove that red yeast rice is useful for high cholesterol. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database lists it as "possibly effective" for this purpose.

The Safe Use of Red Yeast Rice

At Walgreens, you'll find many red yeast rice dietary supplement products that can help you add this herb to your diet. Some products combine red yeast rice with additional nutrients. Consult product labels to see precisely what the formulas contain. Scientists have not been able to verify the safety of red yeast rice when used daily for more than 12 weeks. Mild side effects are possible when using red yeast rice. These may include headaches, bloating, stomach problems and dizziness. Because red yeast rice acts similarly to statin drugs (medications used for high cholesterol), there is a chance that they could cause some of the potentially serious health complications associated with the medications. Among these risks are liver damage, muscle pain and weakness and a life-threatening condition called rhabdomyolysis, in which the muscles break down and release toxins into the bloodstream. Due to the possibility of liver problems, do not take red yeast rice if you are on drugs or herbs that can cause liver side effects, if you drink more than two alcoholic beverages per day or if you have liver disease. Do not take red yeast rice if you are pregnant or nursing. Drugs and supplements that can harm the muscles, such as cyclosporine, niacin and gemfibrozil, should not be taken with red yeast rice. Taking cholesterol-lowering treatments or medications with red yeast rice could raise the risk of side effects. No matter what your overall health is like, be sure to talk to your medical doctor before using red yeast rice as a supplement.

This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of purity, strength, or safety of the products. As a result, effects may vary. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking a supplement as supplements may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking a supplement. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.

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