Red Yeast Rice & Cholesterol 

 August 19, 2019

By  Steve Hoffman

A regular patient at Princeton Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine was recently advised by their doctor that they should start taking a statin because their cholesterol was elevated. The patient is a 50-year-old female in otherwise good health. Statins do have side effects, some of the serious, especially for females. I recommended that she try a natural product, Red Yeast Rice (RYR), that has been shown to reduce cholesterol with far fewer side effects.


“Jane” did a little research on her own and had a few concerns. Jane found an article that she said that the side effects of RYR were the same as for statin medications. I reviewed the article and the author said that he assumed that the side effects would be the same, he was not basing this off clinical data. I did some more digging and found the side effects profile for both statins and RYR and have listed them below. As you can see the side effect profiles are different although RYR has not been studied nearly as much as stain medications. Nevertheless, as I said to Jane, even if the side effect profile was identical, I would choose the natural product over the synthetic product every time. Having discussed this, Jane decided to try the RYR.

Side Effects:

Red yeast rice can cause mild side effects, including:

Abdominal discomfort





(Above information from the Mayo Clinic website)

Common side effects of cholesterol drugs include:




Stomach cramps

Muscle soreness, pain, or weakness






Problems sleeping

Rash or flushed skin

More Severe Problems

Statins are a common cholesterol medicine, but for some people they can cause severe side effects like muscle damage, dark-colored urine, liver damage, increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes, and memory loss or confusion. It’s unclear why these issues happen.

(Above information from WebMD)


I have attached a copy of Jane’s bloodwork and the results are amazing. The before and after bloodwork was performed approximately 5 months apart and she did not start taking the RYR until 5/18.


Total Cholesterol:        236

HDL Cholesterol:          44

LDL Cholesterol:         148


Total Cholesterol:        178

HDL Cholesterol:          50

LDL Cholesterol:         100

Total and LDL “bad” cholesterol both dropped significantly, and HDL “good” cholesterol improved. Jane is thrilled with the results, has experienced no side effects and her husband, who is on statin medications, is asking if the RYR could be right for him. While Jane is in very good health, she did start exercising more regularly and reduced her intake of sugars and carbohydrates on my advice. These lifestyle modifications can help reduce cholesterol on their own and certainly help either statins or RYR work better but I have never seen this type of difference, in this short of a time period, from lifestyle modifications alone.


While these results are remarkable, RYR is not for everyone. As with statin medications if you experience muscle pain, tenderness or weakness you should call you doctor immediately. Pregnant women or those with active or chronic liver disease should not use statins or RYR. The other precaution, whether you are taking a statin or RYR, is that you should also supplement with CoQ10. Statins and RYR will lower levels of CoQ10, a nutrient that is cardio-protective and is implicated in lowering cardiac risks.

Bottom Line

If you are taking a statin or have been advised that your cholesterol should be lowered, RYR could be a good option for you. Consult with your physician and health care practitioner before you start any supplement regimen. It is also important to make sure that the RYR supplement that you are taking is of consistent quality and has third party testing to insure strength and purity. Supplements that are bought online can often be fake or of questionable quality. At Princeton Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, the RYR supplement that we carry is purchased directly from a third-party certified manufacturer. The supplement is also available with CoQ10 already in it so that you do not have to take a separate supplement.

Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!

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