A Randomized Clinical Efficacy Trial of Red Yeast Rice (Monascus pilosus) Against Hyperlipidemia

Am J Chin Med. 2019;47(2):323-335. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X19500150. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


Red yeast rice (RYR) has been used as an alternative treatment for hyperlipidemia. According to the previous studies, other compounds, besides monacolin K in RYR, may also reduce the serum lipid level. This study aims at examining the efficacy of monacolin K-rich and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)-rich RYR (Monascus pilosus) with regards to treating hyperlipidemia in a randomized control, double-blind clinical trial. In the research, we assigned 50 eligible subjects to monacolin K-rich RYR, GABA-rich RYR and placebo groups ( n=16 , 17, 17, respectively). The concentrations of TC, LDL-C, HDL, TG and blood biochemical data were evaluated at different phases: before applying (visit 1), after 1-month (visit 2), 2-month (visit 3), 3-month (visit 4) of providing the intervention and 1-month after ending the test food (visit 5) among three groups. During the 3-month intervention, the serum TC and LDL-C levels decreased significantly in the monacolin K group compared to the baseline and the other two groups. The Serum TG level declined steadily but was not statistically significant. Meanwhile, no marked differences in the serum HDL level were revealed among the three groups. Most safety assessment data had minor variation except two subjects (in monacolin K and GABA group separately) reported elevated liver enzymes. Monacolin K-rich RYR can reduce cholesterol as expected, while the GABA-rich RYR performed non-significant reduction on serum triglyceride. The research results demonstrate that using different concentrations and ratios between monacolin K and GABA could be beneficial for antihyperlipidemia.

Keywords: Dyslipidemia; GABA; Monacolin K; Red Yeast Rice.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Lovastatin / administration & dosage*
  • Lovastatin / chemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monascus / chemistry*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / administration & dosage*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / chemistry


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Lovastatin