Statin or Red Yeast Rice?

An extremely common scenario plays out like this: “My doctor wants me to go on a statin, but I want something more natural like Red Yeast Rice.

We hear you. There’s a lot of downsides to different medications. Aren’t there better options? There are, here’s what I see: 

  • Not having to take medications
  • Avoid both altogether by changing our diets
  • Take something with fewer downsides if you DO have to take something

I like any of those options, and we can support you either way. But let’s carefully look at both sides of the coin.

Two things we like to point out:

First, Red Yeast Rice is a supplement – made for us by the wonderful natural products industry. It is commonly adulterated. In many cases, you aren’t even getting the labeled amount. 

Second, Red Yeast Rice is a statin. It is measured by the active component, lovastatin, which when isolated and concentrated goes under the brand name Mevacor. It literally is a statin, in all shapes and forms, working in the body the same way as statins (because it is one!). If you take Red Yeast Rice, you are taking a statin. 

There are lots of different statins with different qualities (drug interactions, side effects, how long it stays in your body). Red Yeast Rice is a statin that has a higher risk of adverse events and drug interactions than less potent statins (like pravastatin, for example). But the true problem with it is that there is no data to support the advantages of Red Yeast Rice like there is for pharmaceutical statins. For example, there are studies supporting that statins can decrease your chance of dying if you have certain heart conditions. There is no data for Red Yeast Rice.

The choice between a statin and red yeast rice is actually not a choice at all.

It’s a choice between standardized, studied statins and a potentially adulterated or contaminated, unstudied statin.

Now, we love supplements, and our Red Yeast Rice is pure and potent. It could be a great option for anyone who wants to try a short trial before getting on prescription options.

The key is to understand the whole picture to make the best decisions for you. Check with us to see if Red Yeast Rice is right for you. We can also advise you on important nutrients you may need to increase if you start Red Yeast Rice (or statins, for that matter).

Just trying to keep it real…

Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth

Dr. Neal Smoller, Holistic Pharmacist

About Neal Smoller

Dr. Neal Smoller, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist: and owner of Village Apothecary, an independent pharmacy in the most famous small town in America—Woodstock, NY. He’s also the host of the popular wellness podcast, The Big Mouth Pharmacist.”

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