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Red Fermented Rice (Hongqu) – On the Topicality of a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Product

Red Fermented Rice (Hongqu) – On the Topicality of a Traditional Chinese Medicinal Product

Red fermented rice (hongqu 紅麯, 紅麴, simplified characters 红曲) is cooked white rice that has been cultivated with the mould Monascus purpureus, thereby acquiring a red colour. It is obtained through an ingenious and complicated fermentation process and in China it has been used for centuries as a flavouring and colouring agent for foods. The first part of this article sheds light on the historical background and the methods of production as described in two Chinese encyclopaedias (from the 13th and 17th centuries respectively), and discusses the effects of red fermented rice as they are presented in dietetic and pharmacological works. The second part of the article presents red fermented rice as a traditional Chinese medicinal that can be classified under ‘substances that relieve food stagnation’ (xiaoshiyao 消食藥), which regulate digestion and the metabolic processes and invigorate blood. On these grounds, red fermented rice can be considered for application in differential diagnostic treatments with the modern biomedical diagnosis of hyperlipidemia. In addition to pharmacological research on both red fermented rice and synthetic statins - which are comparable in their clinical effect on increased cholesterol levels - the side effects and safety of red fermented rice are discussed, as well as its dosage. The article concludes with an illustrative case study.

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SKU: JCM 117-59

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AuthorUte Engelhardt & Rainer Nögel

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