The Benefits of Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is a byproduct of rice that contains chemical compounds called monacolins. Red yeast rice contains monacolin K, which prohibits the production of HMG-CoA reductase, according to the Mayo Clinic. HMG-CoA reductase is the sticky part of cholesterol. It sticks to the inside of blood vessels, and often results in blockage leading to stroke or heart attack. Red yeast rice has been under human studies since the 1970s in the U.S., with results that show lower triglyceride, or bad cholesterol, levels in the blood. There is no determination of long-term effects, according to Medline Plus of the National Institutes of Health.
When fermented under certain conditions with specific strains of yeast, red yeast rice may contain significant amounts of mevinic acids, including lovastatin. Lovastatin is an HMG-Co reductase inhibitor, more commonly known as a statin. Because statins may deplete CoQ10 levels, you may want to consider taking a CoQ10 supplement. Statins work by blocking HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that controls the rate of cholesterol production in the body. This causes the liver to make less cholesterol. Do not exceed the recommended dose on the supplement label.
Red yeast rice may also contain plant sterols, such as beta-sitosterol, which are compounds that can help lower cholesterol.
Generations of Chinese have taken red yeast rice to soothe upset stomach, diarrhea and indigestion, states the Mayo Clinic. The product is popular in conjunction with acupuncture therapy for the spleen, large intestine or even colon health, states Dr. John Chen, PhD, writing for “Acupuncture Today” in his article, Red Yeast Rice: Rediscovery of an Ancient Herb. However, this is not a recommended supplement for those with acute liver disease.
Improved circulation of blood is one of the potential benefits of taking red yeast rice, though there have been no in-depth studies conducted to prove this claim, according to Medline Plus of the National Institutes of Health.
There are also some that claim red yeast rice may provide benefits to those with diabetes, states Medline Plus of the National Institutes of Health. However, the NIH recommends further studies to determine its effectiveness.
In any case, make sure to keep your condition closely monitored by your doctor.