Initial Posting: 1/9/2018    Last Update: 11/6/2019
Answer: Red yeast rice supplements contain naturally occurring statin compounds (or monacolins), such as lovastatin, that can help lower elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Like prescription statin drugs, red yeast rice supplements can cause side effects such as altered liver enzymes, muscle pain, and digestive upset. However, studies suggest certain side effects may be less likely to occur or be less severe with red yeast rice than with prescription statins, likely due to the natural combination of statins in red yeast rice as opposed to a single statin compound in prescription drugs. (Be aware that combining red yeast rice with prescription statin drugs increases the risk of side effects and should be avoided.)
It's important to keep in mind that ConsumerLab.com has found the amount of lovastatins in red yeast rice varies widely across products. Some also contain citrinin, a potential kidney toxin. This likely affects potency and the potential for side effects.