What Are the Risks of Red Yeast Rice?


Quick Answer

If the fermentation process for red yeast rice is not done properly, the supplement contains citrinin, a toxin that damages the liver, states MedlinePlus. Certain people experience severe allergic reactions after breathing in red yeast rice. It has also caused birth defects in animals, so pregnant women should avoid it.

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Chemicals in red yeast rice are similar to some found in statins, which help some people manage their cholesterol levels, WebMD explains. It is possible that red yeast rice has some of the same side effects as statins, including liver damage and serious muscular pain and injury, warns MedlinePlus. However, not all supplements are of the same quality. It is feasible that some contain no statin-like chemicals, while others have high levels.

At times, red yeast rice causes mild side effects, including headaches, heartburn and upset stomach, WebMD observes. There are also potential negative interactions with other substances. Red yeast rice is potentially harmful to the liver, so combining it with medications or supplements that also affect the liver increase the danger, advises MedlinePlus. The same problem is possible if red yeast rice is mixed with alcohol.

Taking red yeast rice with food often causes the supplement to be absorbed faster, MedlinePlus observes. However, when consumed with grapefruit, the body uses red yeast rice more slowly. In this case, red yeast build ups, making side effects more serious.

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