Q. I have been taking red yeast rice (RYR) for a couple of years. My cholesterol dropped dramatically, but I began to develop muscle aches and joint pain in my legs and hips.
Now my pain has become debilitating and constant. Celebrex helped but gave me burning in my stomach, so I stopped it. My pain has become even worse and is affecting my job and my ability to exercise.
Might it be the RYR? I’ve been to many doctors who have no idea where this pain is coming from. I have been active my whole life and at 59 I feel like I’m headed toward a battle with chronic pain in my lower extremities. Doctors don’t seem to want to admit red yeast rice or statins are the culprit.
A. Red yeast rice is a controversial dietary supplement for lowering cholesterol. It contains low doses of several natural statins. Whether someone is taking atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin or RYR, muscle and joint pain are possible side effects.
RYR is as effective as pravastatin in lowering LDL cholesterol. Many people tolerate RYR without symptoms, but like you, some people react with muscle and joint pain (American Journal of Cardiology, Jan. 15, 2010). It would be a good idea to stop taking this supplement given your situation.
For more details about red yeast rice and other natural ways to control cholesterol and triglycerides, we’re sending you a copy of our book from National Geographic, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.