Complement Ther Med. 2012 Dec;20(6):466-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Aug 17.

The effect of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus) in dyslipidemia and other disorders.

Yang CW1, Mousa SA.



Red Yeast Rice (RYR) is a traditional Chinese food that is fermented and obtained after red yeast (Monascus purpureus) is grown on rice. RYR contains Monacolin K (Lovastatin) and other active ingredients that are thought to play a role in the management of cholesterol levels. Recently, many clinical trials have focused on the uses of RYR, including for dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fatigue, and memory.


The primary objective of this review is to evaluate the effectiveness of RYR on the management of dyslipidemia. The secondary objective is to review studies that focus on the other uses of RYR. The following search terms were used: red yeast rice, Xuezhikang, Hypocol, Cholestin, Monascus purpureus combined with dyslipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia, lipid, cardiovascular, coronary, atherosclerosis, diabetes, sugar, bone, osteoporosis, liver, fatigue, memory, Alzheimer’s, dementia.


Studies reviewed show that RYR significantly lowered LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. Effects on triglycerides and HDL cholesterol were also observed in some studies. Compared with statins, RYR was shown to have an equal efficacy to statins when combined with or without other dietary supplements. RYR also appeared to be superior to placebo in preventing nonfatal myocardial infarction, total coronary heart disease events, and total deaths. On the other hand, information on diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fatigue, and memory are currently limited although in vivo and in vitro studies have shown an effect.


Results of RYR clinical trials presented here have limitations and RYR’s clinical use should be further investigated before using RYR as one of the alternative treatments for dyslipidemia management, despite the fact that the strongest evidence for RYR use is in dyslipidemia versus other clinical conditions.