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What are some side effects of red yeast rice?

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Potential side effects of red yeast rice include liver damage, muscle pain and muscle damage, according to WebMD. Inhaling red yeast can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.

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Red yeast is produced by fermenting rice with Monascus purpureus yeast, explains WebMD. The yeast is cultured at controlled temperatures and conditions to produce higher concentrations of chemicals that reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Red yeast is commonly used to reduce cholesterol in individuals with high cholesterol, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and treat indigestion or diarrhea. It is also used to improve blood circulation and boost stomach health.

Red yeast is likely safe when consumed for up to four-and-a-half years, notes WebMD. It contains an active ingredient that is also found in prescription drugs known as statins, which is why it may lead to similar side effects, including liver damage and muscle damage. Red yeast rice products are composed of different amounts of chemicals comparable to statins. Those with higher chemical content have more chances of causing side effects.

Red yeast products that have not been fermented properly may contain the poison citrinin, which can damage the kidney, states WebMD. Chemicals similar to the statin drug lovastatin have also been associated with liver damage. Consumers with liver problems should take red yeast products with caution and consult a health care professional prior to use.

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