News

Copyright © 2017 Natural Medicines (www.naturalmedicines.com)
July 2017

Are Red Yeast Supplements Safer Than Statins?

Red yeast supplements are often used as a "safer" alternative to statin drugs to manage high cholesterol. But many red yeast products contain monacolin K, which is chemically identical to the statin drug lovastatin. In fact, red yeast rice products have been linked to several adverse event reports similar to statin drugs. A new surveillance study reports that red yeast supplements have been associated with serious adverse events including muscle pain (usually in the lower limbs), rhabdomyolysis, and acute hepatitis. Less serious adverse reactions including indigestion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and skin reactions such as hives and reddening have also been reported. In most cases, the red yeast supplement associated with these reactions contained 3 mg of monacolin K. 

Tell your patients who are considering taking red yeast supplements as an alternative to statin drugs that these supplements work for lowering cholesterol because they often contain statins and also cause many of the same side effects.

To learn more about red yeast and potential adverse reactions associated with these supplements, visit our red yeast monograph.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2017 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.