Red Yeast Rice Extract is a supplement used in natural medicine to help reduce cholesterol levels. However, it is one of the few over-the-counter supplements that should be used under the direction of a natural medicine healthcare provider! It can affect the liver, so liver enzymes should be routinely monitored via blood chemistry panels. Additionally, it can have the serious side effects of myopathy and/or myalgia (muscle weakness and/or muscle pain) and peridontal disease. These side effects are the same as with statin drugs, but to a lesser extent (statin drugs originally came from research on Red Yeast Rice). To counteract the possible side effects of Red Yeast Rice Extract, one MUST take CoQ10 with it, as with statin drugs.
Therefore, in my office I only sell a product of Red Yeast Rice combined with CoQ10 (in one bottle). Additionally, I typically will try safer natural remedies first to lower cholesterol and resort to using Red Yeast Rice Extract only when other efforts have failed.
Reference for the skeptics:
Dr. Weil’s comments on Red Yeast Rice for Cholesterol Control
For more info on CoQ10, please also see my general CoQ10 post for the CoQ10 Monograph (research summary).