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High Cholesterol Message Board

High Cholesterol Board Index

Re: Red Yeast Rice
Jun 28, 2005
[QUOTE=pbsjr]I am new to this board and perhaps this topic has already been covered (if so I couldn't find it). My doctor has put me on a bunch of supplements/vitamins for my high cholesterol (235) including Red Yeast Rice Extract. Does Red Yeast Rice have any negative side effects? :confused:[/QUOTE] Excellent article about Red Yeast Rice and the need for CoQ10 from "The Omnivoire":

"Natural" Cholesterol-Lowering Supplement Depletes Coenzyme Q(10) Levels

Anthony Colpo,
March 28, 2005.

Red Yeast Rice extract (RYR) is frequently advertised as a "safe" and "natural" alternative to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Those who have begun taking RYR on the basis of such hype should be aware that they are effectively taking lovastatin--the active ingredient of RYR.

Contrary to the wishful thinking of some, RYR is not a wonderfully benign supplement--there are at least two case studies of RYR-induced rhabdomyolysis that have been reported in the literature(1,2). Rhabdomyolysis is a normally rare condition involving a major breakdown of muscle tissue. In a worst-case scenario, this muscle breakdown can flood the kidneys with catabolized protein, leading to fatal renal failure.

Statins are well known to increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis, a chracateristic with potentially devastating consequences. In August 2001, pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG was forced to withdraw Baycol (cerivastatin) from the market after dozens of deaths had been linked to the drug. Most of the fatalities were due to rhabdo-induced kidney failure (click here to read the frightening experiences of a New Zealand patient who suffered near fatal kidney failure soon after being prescribed Zocor).
The CoQ10 connection

Some researchers believe that a contributing factor to statin-induced muscle damage is their well-established ability to deplete the body of co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an important antioxidant and energy cofactor found in every cell in the body. CoQ10 is found in especially high levels in vital organs such as the heart, brain, liver and kidneys.

To test the effects of RYR on CoQ10 levels, researchers recently gave mice either a low (1 g/kg body weight, the typical recommended human dose) or a high dose (5 g/kg body weight) of RYR. After treatment, animals of the control group were immediately sacrificed, while mice of the experimental groups (eight for each subgroup) were killed at different time intervals over the subsequent 24 hours.

Liver and heart CoQ10 levels declined dramatically in both groups administered red yeast rice, especially in the high-dose group, within thirty minutes. After 24 hours, the levels of liver and cardiac CoQ10 were still reduced. The higher dose of red yeast rice presented a greater suppressive effect than did the lower dose(3).

RYR, therefore, possesses the ability to produce rapid and significant reductions in CoQ10. Given the critical role of CoQ10 in energy production and defense against free radicals, anything that depletes bodily levels of this important substance--especially in critical organs like the heart and liver--should be avoided like a bad smell.


1. Smith DJ, Olive KE. Chinese Red Rice-induced Myopathy. Southern Medical Journal, December 2003; 96 (12): 1265.

2. Prasad GV, et al. Rhabdomyolysis due to red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) in a renal transplant recipient. Transplantation, Oct 27, 2002; 74 (8): 1200-1201.

3. Yang HT, et al. Acute administration of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) depletes tissue coenzyme Q(10) levels in ICR mice. British Journal of Nutrition, Jan, 2005; 93 (1): 131-135.

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