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This substance, native to China, is a fermentation by-product of cooked non-glutinous rice on which red yeast has been grown.1 The dried, powdered red yeast rice is used medicinally.
Since 800 A.D., red yeast rice has been employed by the Chinese as both a food and a medicinal agent. Its therapeutic benefits as both a promoter of blood circulation and a digestive stimulant were first noted in the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia, Ben Cao Gang Mu-Dan Shi Bu Yi, during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).2 Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine use red yeast rice to treat abdominal pain due to stagnant blood and dysentery, as well as external and internal trauma.3 In addition to its therapeutic applications, red yeast rice has been used for centuries as a flavor enhancer, a food preservative, and a base for a Taiwanese alcoholic rice-wine beverage.4, 5
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.