Friday, August 17, 2007

Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice is a fermented rice common in both Japan and China. It is eaten for basic nutritional benefits and also functions as an herbal supplement. In the West, red yeast rice is popular as a natural cholesterol reducing agent, as it contains a naturally-occurring compound called mevinolin, also known as lovastatin[1]. On August 9th, the FDA put out a warning that red yeast rice “may contain an unauthorized drug” and should not be consumed. The unauthorized drug? Lovastatin. Red yeast rice has been know for years to contain lovastatin, but now it is an “unauthorized drug”? What in the world is going on?

[1] Li YG, Zhang F, Wang ZT, Hu ZB. “Identification and profiling of monacolins in red yeast rice using high performance liquid chromatography with photodiode array detector and mass spectrometry.” J Pharm Biomed Anal 2004; 35 (5): 1101-12.

1 comment:

  1. Well, our FDA needs to appear to be doing things for our safety. Much easier to put out the warning for a product like red yeast rice. The big drug companies won't complain about that! Sad, but true.....