Sunday, August 19, 2007
Red Yeast Rice - Is It Safe?
Red yeast rice is a supplement that is used to reduce cholesterol. It is effective because it contains "Monacolin K" a potent inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase, also known as Lovastatin (Mevacor®, a drug produced by Merck & Co., Inc). It has been used in China since 800 AD.
There has been some dispute as to whether red yeast rice should be classified as a supplement or as a drug. Recently the FDA recommended to "avoid using" the products because they "may contain an unauthorized drug that could be harmful to their health."
However, with careful monitoring the risk of taking this medication should be low. To reduce the risk of liver and muscle injury which are two of the common side effects, patients should inform their physicians that they are using this supplement. A routine blood test can be done to monitor for any evidence of injury. Patients who are already on a cholesterol reducing medication should be aware that taking this supplement may increase their risk of side effects.
References: please see links.
Photo: courtesy of Solaray.