Health Guide

Red yeast rice

What is it?

Red yeast rice is an herbal medicine used to treat high cholesterol (too much fat in your blood).

Other names for red yeast rice include: Monascus purpureus and Cholestin.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breast feeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure, liver or kidney problems, or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about how much red yeast rice you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking red yeast rice. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more red yeast rice or take it more often than what is written on the directions.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take red yeast rice without first talking to your doctor if you are taking:

  • Cyclosporine (examples: Sandimmune(R), Neoral(R), Sang Cya(R) (2)


  • Before taking red yeast rice, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Red yeast rice contains lovastatin (Mevacor(R))

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects.

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Dizziness, gassiness, or heartburn (1)


1. Wang J, Lu Z, Chi J et al: Multicenter clinical trial of serum lipid-lowering effects of a Monascus purpureus (red yeast) rice preparation from traditional Chinese medicine. Curr Ther Res 1997; 58(12): 964-978.

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

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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