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Red Yeast Rice

Red Yeast Rice May Help Lower Cholesterol

Fermenting red rice with a yeast called Monascus purpureus, it promotes blood circulation and stimulates digestion. It inhibits cholesterol production, by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver.

What is Red Yeast Rice? How does it reduce cholesterol?

What is Red Yeast Rice? Red yeast rice is in use for centuries in China, both as food and as a medicinal product. It is producing from red-rice by fermenting it with a yeast called Monascus purpureus. In Traditional Chinese medicine, red yeast rice is in use to reduce cholesterol, improve blood circulation, and aid digestive problems.

How does it reduce your cholesterol level? Fermentation products of red rice yeast contain 0.4% 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors. HMG-CoA reductase is the rate-limiting enzyme in the endogenous cholesterol biosynthesis. Components such as citrinin, monacolines and monankarin, and monascopyridines have been isolated from red yeast rice, which is considering as responsible for cholesterol reducing effects.

It also contains isoflavonoids, monounsaturated fats, and sterols; these components may contribute to the cholesterol-reducing activity.

How does Red Yeast Rice reduce heart diseases & strokes risk?

Monacolin K present in red yeast rice is similar to the drug lovastatin that helps to improve lipid profile. Managing the levels of lipids, it helps to reduce the risk to atherosclerosis and coronary heart diseases.

Red yeast rice also contains isoflavonoids and sterols, which may be responsible for its activity to reduce the risk for coronary heart diseases.

6 Medicinal Uses of Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice contains Monacolin K; this has the same structure as the drugs lovastatin and mevinolin. Studies suggest it may lower LDL cholesterol by about 10-33%

  1. Cholesterol control - Red yeast rice can effectively reduce triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol, similar to lovastatin drug, but without or with low side effects.
  2. Protects Cardiovascular system - Preliminary evidence shows that taking red yeast rice may result in cardiovascular benefits and improve blood flow.
  3. Blood sugar control - Red yeast rice shows some potential benefits in diabetics and blood-glucose levels.
  4. Good for digestive health - Red yeast rice is traditionally in use for various digestive problems that include indigestion, diarrhea, etc.
  5. Improves blood circulation - Red yeast rice is in use to improve blood circulation.
  6. For spleen & stomach problems - Red yeast rice is even helpful to clear spleen and stomach problems.

Recommended Red Yeast Rice daily dosage

No dosage standards have recommended for red yeast rice. Still, the suggested adult dosages range from 1.2 to 2.4 grams/day to 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. In Asian countries, the average daily intake of red yeast rice is 14-55 grams.

Red Yeast Rice available in different forms

A 2011 analysis showed some red yeast rice products on the market contain low levels of monacolin K. These products may have little or no effect on blood cholesterol levels.

Red yeast rice is available in a capsule formulation. Other forms are tablets, teas, tinctures, extracts, and topical forms. There are three major preparations of red yeast rice; they are Zhitai, Cholestin or Hypocol, and Xuezhikang.

Zhitai is producing by the fermentation by different strains of Monascus purpureus on whole-grain rice. It contains mainly rice and yeast but is mostly rice by weight.

Cholestin or HypoCol is producing by the fermentation by selected strains of Monascus purpureus, using a proprietary process that produces a maximum concentration of monacolin K (is lovastatin), which is the major cholesterol-reducing component in red yeast rice.

Xuezhikang is producing by mixing the rice and red yeast with alcohol and then processing it to extract most of the rice gluten. It contains 40 percentages more cholesterol-reducing ingredients than Cholestin or Hypocol.

How do you take Red Yeast Rice?

Nowadays, red yeast rice is available as a supplement, so it is easy and convenient to take it for reducing your cholesterol levels. However, it is very difficult to choose the best supplier. Because red yeast rice is an herbal supplement and there are no manufacturing regulation standards in place. Therefore, you have to do research to find a proper supplier for effective cholesterol reducing without any risk of contamination.

Bioactive constituents of Red Yeast Rice

Monacolin K, the major monacolin found in red yeast rice, it is structurally identical to that of lovastatin (cholesterol reducing drug). However, monacolin K possesses other pleiotropic effects, which include its ability to induce cell apoptosis and decrease cellular triglyceride, cholesterol, and free fatty acid production by down-regulation of fatty acid synthesis.

Red yeast rice also has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may convey additional bioactive effects.

Scientific evidence for Red Yeast Rice as natural cholesterol herb

Earlier research performed by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 1999 had found that red yeast rice supplements could reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. In another study, the combination of fish oil and healthy lifestyle changes, the supplements worked as well as a statin drug (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, July 2008). This study carried out on 74 people who are having high cholesterol assigned either to take statins or red yeast rice and fish oil supplements (as well as proper diet, exercise, and relaxation).

After three months, LDL dropped by about 40 percent in both groups (statins and red yeast rice), according to lead researcher David Becker, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Possible side effects & medicine interaction of Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice products may not be safe; some may have the same side effects as certain cholesterol-lowering drugs, and some may contain a potentially harmful contaminant.

Get immediate medical help if you are having any signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Symptoms of overuse of red yeast rice may include stomach pain or upset. Stop taking it and call your doctor immediately, if you are having any serious side effects such as muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness with fever, unusual tiredness, and dark-colored urine (or urinating less than usual or not at all).

Avoid drinking alcohol when you are using red yeast rice; it may increase your risk of liver damage. Grapefruit may interact with it and can cause potentially dangerous effects.

Red yeast rice may interact with other drugs such as an antibiotic, cholesterol reducing drugs, niacin, danazol, itraconazole, nefazodone, etc.

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