Red Yeast Rice Herbal Remedies for High Cholesterol
Red yeast (Monascus purpureus) is an organism cultivated by the Chinese especially for coloring and flavoring rice, rice wine, and other dishes, but also for use as a traditional Chinese herb called Zhi Tai. The preparation was first mentioned in the famous Ben Cao published in the 15th century for use with indigestion and diarrhea, for improving blood circulation, and for promoting stomach and “spleen” (digestion) health.
Red yeast rice extract contains the same kind of compounds found in statins, like Lovastatin, that block cholesterol biosynthesis in the liver. Unlike pharmaceuticals, standardized red yeast rice extracts are more like foods, contain several active compounds rather than one single purified compound, and are generally milder.
How to take Red Yeast Rice to Help Normalize High Cholesterol
- Fresh vs. packaged
While live red yeast is used in Asia to color and flavor rice, it is more difficult to obtain in many other areas of the world. For therapeutic use, 600 mg of the standardized extract (to about 1.7% HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) per capsule or tablet is widely available. Concentrated extracts where no standard is given are also available, as are extended-release products. For more consistent results, the standardized extract is likely to be superior.
- Typical Dosage of Red Yeast Rice for High Cholesterol
The typical dose of a standardized Red Yeast Rice product is 600 to 1200 mg, once or twice daily with meals. Always start with the lowest dose for up to 5 days to check for individual sensitivity. Next, go to 600 mg twice daily and check cholesterol levels after 6 weeks to 2 months before deciding to go up to the highest dose. Take into account your size and weight when determining dosage.
- How often to take it
Take Red Yeast Rice products once or twice daily with meals.
- How much Red Yeast Rice to buy at each time (weekly, monthly need)
Start with one bottle with 60 Red Yeast Rice caps to check for individual sensitivity before buying a 60-day supply for convenience.
- Where to buy supplements
On-line, pharmacies, natural food stores often carry Red Yeast Rice products.
- How to make home preparations
For consistent results, buy bottles of capsules or tablets of Red Yeast Rice, preferably standardized. Home preparations are not recommended.
Things to Know when taking Red Yeast Rice for Cholesterol Imbalances
- Side effects
The safety of Red Yeast Rice is supported by its long history of use in food preparations, and in Chinese medicine.
Red yeast rice can have mild side effects like digestive upset, muscle pain, and mild headache.
Products containing red yeast rice should not be taken by people with existing liver disease, during pregnancy or by children without the advice of a trained health care professional.
- Potential Interactions
Although no case reports or clinical studies are available on interactions between red yeast rice and pharmaceutical drugs, theoretically, interactions such as drug potentiation could occur with other statins such as Lovastatin. Consult your physician and other experienced health care providers if in doubt about potential interactions with other cardiovascular medications.
- Good herbal combinations
Red yeast rice is often blended with other ingredients to help support cardiovascular health like CoQ10, or hawthorn leaf and flower (standardized).