Red Yeast Rice
The Cholestin brand of red yeast rice has been generally well tolerated with possible temporary mild side effects such as heartburn, gas, and dizziness.30 This product should not be used by people with liver disorders31 and its safety during pregnancy has not been established.
There is one case report of muscle weakness and joint pain occurring in a man who was taking red yeast rice.32 Because the man was also taking several prescription drugs, it was not clear whether the symptoms were caused by red yeast rice. In another case report, a woman developed severe muscle pain with laboratory evidence of muscle damage while taking red yeast rice. In that case, red yeast rice appeared to be the cause of the muscle damage.33 These reports should be taken seriously, because muscle problems are common side effects of prescription HMG CoA-reductase inhibitors (statins). However, the frequency of side effects with red yeast rice is substantially lower than with statin drugs.34
There is one case report of hepatitis developing in a woman taking red yeast rice. She was also taking two medications that have been reported to cause hepatitis, so a cause-effect relationship with red yeast rice was not proven. However, since statin drugs have been reported to cause hepatitis, it is possible that this complication can also result from taking red yeast rice.35
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.