Are Red Yeast Supplements Safer Than Statins?

Posted 01 August 2017

Red yeast supplements are often used as a “safer” alternative to statin drugs to manage high cholesterol. But many red yeast products contain monacolin K, which is chemically identical to the statin drug lovastatin. In fact, red yeast rice products have been linked to several adverse event reports similar to statin drugs. A new surveillance study reports that red yeast supplements have been associated with serious adverse events including muscle pain (usually in the lower limbs), rhabdomyolysis, and acute hepatitis. Less serious adverse reactions including indigestion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and skin reactions such as hives and reddening have also been reported. In most cases, the red yeast supplement associated with these reactions contained 3 mg of monacolin K. 

Source: Integrative Medicine Newsletter

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Another study slams red yeast rice pills

Posted 05 July 2017

A study of 28 brands of R supplements has found that the amount of the supposed active ingredient (monacolin K) varied widely from product to product and two products contained none.
Reference: Cohen P and others. Variability in strength of red yeast rice supplements purchased from mainstream retailers. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, June 23, 2017

The purified version of monacolin K is lovastatin, the active ingredient in the cholesterol-lowering drug Mevacor. Statin drugs are very useful, but they are not suitable for self-medication because optimal cholesterol-control should be tailored to individual risk factors and be medically monitored. The FDA has ordered at least ten companies to stop marketing red yeast rice products for cholesterol control. However, if no drug claims are made, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 permits their sale as “dietary supplements.” In 2010, a study of 12 red … Read the rest