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Red Yeast Rice

Also indexed as:Monascus purpureus, Xuezhikang
Red Yeast Rice: Main Image
Botanical names:
Monascus purpureus

Parts Used & Where Grown

This substance, native to China, is a fermentation by-product of cooked non-glutinous rice on which red yeast has been grown.1 The dried, powdered red yeast rice is used medicinally.

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
High Cholesterol
1.2 to 2.4 grams (5 to 10 mg of monacolins) daily in divided amounts3 stars[3 stars]
One of the ingredients in red yeast rice appears to block the production of cholesterol in the liver.
Heart Attack

(Xuezhikang; for post-event treatment only, not acute attacks )
300 mg twice a day (with doctor supervision)2 stars[2 stars]
In one trial that included patients with a previous history of a heart attack, supplementing with a particular brand of Chinese red yeast rice that contained 6 mg per day of lovastatin (a statin drug) reduced risk of death from heart disease.
High Triglycerides
13.5 mg total monacolins daily2 stars[2 stars]
Although primarily used to lower high serum cholesterol, red yeast rice extract, high in monacolins, has been found to significantly lower serum triglyceride levels.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Since 800 A.D., red yeast rice has been employed by the Chinese as both a food and a medicinal agent. Its therapeutic benefits as both a promoter of blood circulation and a digestive stimulant were first noted in the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia, Ben Cao Gang Mu-Dan Shi Bu Yi, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).2 Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine use red yeast rice to treat abdominal pain due to stagnant blood and dysentery, as well as external and internal trauma.3 In addition to its therapeutic applications, red yeast rice has been used for centuries as a flavor enhancer, a food preservative, and a base for a Taiwanese alcoholic rice-wine beverage.4, 5

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.