Shorts: Why I don’t prescribe red yeast rice to treat cholesterol condition?

Red yeast rice extract supplement is sold over the counter in pharmacies and health food stores here in Singapore. Red yeast rice is a fermented product of rice. It contains lovastatin, which is what  cholesterol-lowering statin drug contains. It is said that red yeast rice has cholesterol-lowering effect without the drug statin-like side effects such as muscle weakness (and that include your heart muscle) etc.

According to Professor Kerry Bone from the University of New England, it is still a controversial remedy as some clinical studies have found side effects similar to the drug statin. This is one of the reasons why it is not approved by TGA (Australia) and herbalist are not supposed to prescribe it.

Why is it sold in local stores? This is because health supplements are not fully regulated in Singapore. On the other hand, my practice is regulated by NHAA (National Herbalists Association of Australia) and TGA (Therapeutic goods act) of Australia.  This is to ensure safe prescription for the patients. There are a list of ethics we need to follow. For example, I can’t sell multi-level marketing products as it is deemed conflict of interest.

Therefore, please do not assume everything is safe just because they are sold in a pharmacy or health food stores. Check with your qualified natural health care provider.


About Sebastian Liew

Matthew Wood, the renowned American herbalist described Sebastian as ‘one of the most unique and talented practitioners of natural healing and herbalism.’ The New Paper (Singapore) called Sebastian Liew 'The Medicine Man'. Indeed, Sebastian is a qualified and registered Medical Herbalist (accredited by the National Herbalists Association of Australia), with a Master's degree in Herbal Medicine from the University of New England, Australia. He is the first medical herbalist in Singapore and is known to popularize phytotherapy (Western herbal medicine), European traditional medicine, and St Hildegard medicine (Germany) in Singapore and probably in Asia. Sebastian has 20 years clinical work experiences and treated numerous patients with different medical conditions from all age groups in his Singapore clinic. Sebastian authored the book, Leaf to Life: The Natural Approach to Slow Down Aging and Living a Healing Life, which set the fundamentals for healthy aging and the prevention or treatment for almost all diseases. Please visit website
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