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Red Yeast Rice - What are the Risks?


Updated May 16, 2014

Red Yeast Rice
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Red yeast rice is a nutritional supplement purported to lower cholesterol.

The side effects and risks of red yeast rice are not fully understood. Red yeast rice side effects and risks may include:

  • Headache
  • Indigestion
  • Bloating and gas
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Liver inflammation
  • Damage to peripheral nerves

Red yeast rice, like the statin drugs, can cause myopathy. Signs and symptoms include muscle pain, weakness, and elevated levels of creatine kinase.

Rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that can lead to kidney failure, is a serious side effect that can occur rarely. People who notice muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness while using red yeast rice should see a doctor immediately.

In studies, red yeast rice has been found to interfere with the body's ability to produce CoQ10, which is thought to be a side effect of statin drugs.

There is insufficient information about the long-term safety of red yeast rice.

Red Yeast Rice Fact Sheet
Red Yeast Rice - Potential Drug Interactions


Mueller PS. Symptomatic myopathy due to red yeast rice. Annals of Internal Medicine. 145.6 (2006):474-5.

Prasad GV, Wong T, Meliton G, Bhaloo S. Rhabdomyolysis due to red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) in a renal transplant recipient. Transplantation. 74.8 (2002)):1200-1.

Smith DJ, Olive KE. Chinese red rice-induced myopathy. Southern Medical Journal. 96.12 (2003):1265-7.

Vercelli L, Mongini T, Olivero N, Rodolico C, Musumeci O, Palmucci L. Chinese red rice depletes muscle coenzyme Q10 and maintains muscle damage after discontinuation of statin treatment. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 54.4 (2006):718-20.

Yang HT, Lin SH, Huang SY, Chou HJ. Acute administration of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) depletes tissue coenzyme Q(10) levels in ICR mice. British Journal of Nutrition. 93.1 (2005):131-5.

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