Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology Pinyin Name: Hong Qu
Alternate Chinese Names: Hong Mi, Chi Qu
Original Source: Yin Shan Zheng Yao (Correct Guide to
English Name: red yeast rice
Botanical Name: Monascus purpureus Went.
Pharmaceutical Name: Monascus
Properties: sweet, acrid, warm
Channels Entered: Spleen, Liver, Large Intestine
powder and pill forms. It is ground into powder for top- DIGESTIVE HERBS
Promotes Digestion
Indigestion: Hong Qu (Monascus) strengthens the Spleen
and Stomach and promotes digestion to treat indigestion • Use Hong Qu with caution in cases of Spleen and in which there is undigested food in the stool.
Stomach deficiency, or individuals who do not have any • Indigestion: use Hong Qu with Shan Zha (Fructus Crataegi) and Mai Ya (Fructus Hordei Germinatus).
Hong Qu is contraindicated in individuals with active • Food stagnation due to Spleen deficiency: add Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae) and Dang Shen(Radix Codonopsis).
Monascidin, monascolin I (lovastatin, mevinolin), 2. Invigorates Blood Circulation, Eliminates monascolin II (β-hydroxy acid), monascin, starch, fatty Blood stasis: Hong Qu activates blood circulation to treat
blood stasis in postpartum women, individuals with
traumatic injuries, external injuries, and abdominal pain
caused by blood stasis.
• Blood stasis in the upper body: use this herb with Jiang Xiang (Lignum Dalbergiae Odoriferae), Tong Cao(Medulla Tetrapanacis), and Mo Yao (Myrrha).
• Pain due to trauma and injuries: combine it with Yan Hu Suo (Rhizoma Corydalis), Dang Gui (Radicis Angelicae Sinensis), Hong Hua (Flos Carthami), Niu Xi (RadixCyathulae seu Achyranthis), Mo Yao (Myrrha) and RuAntihyperlipidemic: Following ingestion, monascolin I
• Abdominal pain or postpartum blood stasis: incorporate (lovastatin) is converted in the body to β-hydroxy acid, Hong Qu with Ze Lan (Herba Lycopi), Niu Xi (Radix which is an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. This com- Cyathulae seu Achyranthis), Sheng Di Huang (Radix pound then inhibits cholesterol biosynthesis, leading to Rehmanniae), Xu Duan (Radix Dipsaci), Pu Huang reduced levels of plasma total cholesterol, low-density (Pollen Typhae), and Chi Shao (Radix Paeoniae Rubrae).
lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), very-low-densitylipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C), and triglycerides. In addition, it may produce a slight increase in high-densi- 6 to 12 grams in decoction. Hong Qu is also used in Copyright 2004 Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology by John Chen & Tina Chen. Art of Medicine Press.
Chapter 9 – Digestive Herbs
Hyperlipidemia: In one multi-center, randomized, sin-
Hong Qu is rice that has been fermented with yeast gle-blind trial, 502 patients with hyperlipidemia were Monascus purpureus. The fermentation process changes treated with 600 mg of Hong Qu twice daily (1200 mg the color of rice from white to red, thereby giving it the total per day). After four weeks of treatment, the study name “red yeast rice.” For centuries, Hong Qu has been reported 17% reduction in total cholesterol levels, 24.6% used in China as both food and herbal medicine. It has reduction in LDL-cholesterol, 19.8% decrease in triglyc- also been used as a coloring agent to prepare fish, fish erides, and a 12.8% increase in HDL-cholesterol. After 8 sauce, fish paste, rice wine, and red soybean curd. In the weeks of treatment, the study reported 22.7% reduction late 1990s, it was introduced and used in the US as a in total cholesterol levels, 30.9% reduction in LDL-cho- dietary supplement to promote healthy cholesterol levels.
lesterol, 34.1% decrease in triglycerides, and a 19.9% Most medical journals attribute the hypolipidemic effect of Hong Qu to one single component, lovastatin. Thisexplanation, however, is not sufficient nor entirely accurate.
The therapeutic dose of Hong Qu delivers approximately Listed below are interactions that have been document- 7.2 mg of lovastatin, while the synthetic drug lovastatin ed between pharmaceuticals and lovastatin, a constituent (Mevacor) contains from 10 to 40 mg of lovastatin. Yet, despite the lower dose of the supposed active component, • Liver metabolism: Lovastatin is metabolized primarily
the hypolipidemic effects of Hong Qu are much greater than by CYP3A4, and may interact with CYP3A4 inhibitors.
the synthetic drug lovastatin. Thus, it is clear that lovastatin • Azole antifungals: Concurrent use of itraconazole and
is not the only active component, and more research needs ketoconazole increased lovastatin levels twenty fold in to be done on Hong Qu as an herbal medicine, not just on health volunteers, as well as increased the risk of myopathy.
Bile acid sequestrants: Co-administration of cholestyra-
mine decreases the bioavailability of lovastatin. To avoid References
this interaction, lovastatin should be taken 1 hour before 1. Plant Physiol, 1977; 60(4):578) (J Food Sci, 1981; 46(2):589 2. The Merck Index 12th edition, Chapman & Hall/CRCnetBASE/Merck, or 4 hours after bile acid sequestrants.
Fibric acid derivatives: Avoid concurrent use of gemfi-
3. PDR for Nutritional Supplements 1st Edition, Medical Economics, 2001 brozil and lovastatin, as severe myopathy and rhabdomy- 5. Facts and Comparison, Jan. 2000. Drug Facts and Comparison. A • Isradipine: Isradipine increases hepatic blood flow, and
may increase the clearance of lovastatin and its metabolites.
Warfarin: Bleeding and increased prothrombin time
have been reported with concomitant use of lovastatinand warfarin.
Copyright 2004. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology by John K Chen and Tina T Chen.
Art of Medicine Press, Inc.


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