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Red yeast rice (a.k.a. Hong qu) is produced during fermentation of white rice with red yeast Monascus purpureus and has been used both medicinally and as a food additive in China for centuries.
The active ingredients in red yeast rice are thought to be compounds similar to statin compounds or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.
Research studies show that red yeast rice helps lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglyceride levels in certain individuals. Some of these subjects also enjoyed an increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.
Use as directed. Because of the naturally-occurring HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, it is recommended that Red Yeast Rice only be used with your doctor's knowledge and consent, especially if you have a health condition.
May cause myopathy (muscle pain) in some individuals – report any sudden muscle tenderness or weakness immediately. Red yeast rice may also lower levels of CoQ10, increasing the need for supplemental CoQ10. Other possible side-effects include heartburn, flatulence and stomach discomfort. Pregnant women and nursing mothers, or those likely to get pregnant should avoid using this supplement. Individuals with a history of liver disease or those who use alcohol frequently should seek medical advice before using this supplement. Those using red yeast rice in treatment of hyperlipidemia must be medically supervised.