Top 25 Supplements in 2004
2. Bone Meal
3. Wheat Germ
5. Essential Fatty Acids
8. Green tea
9. Black cohosh root
11. Pau d’arco
12. Coenzyme Q10
14. Royal Jelly
15. Alpha-Lipoic Acid
18. Horny goat weed
25. Evening primrose
Policosanol General Information
Policosanol Research and Study
Policosanol Side Effects
Policosanol as a Supplement (Reviews and Prices)
Policosanol: A product derived from the waxy coating of
sugar cane that lowers both the total cholesterol and the "bad" low density
lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raises the levels of the "good" high density
lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. A review of placebo-controlled studies using
policosanol found that at doses of 10 to 20 mg per day, policosanol lowers total
cholesterol by 17 to 21%, lowers LDL cholesterol by 21 to 29%, and raises HDL
cholesterol by 8 to 15% Triglyceride levels are not influenced by policosanol.
It was concluded that policosanol seems to be a promising phytochemical
alternative to classic lipid-lowering agents such as the statins and deserves
further evaluation. (Am Heart J 2002;143:356-65)
Policosanol is a mixture of higher primary aliphatic alcohols isolated from sugar cane wax, whose main component is octacosanol. The precise mechanism of action of policosanol in regard to cholesterol is not understood. Policosanol is considered a dietary supplement in the US.
Richard N. Fogoros, M.D., when writing about non-prescription cholesterol lowering products, reports the following:
Relatively recent on the non-prescription cholesterol lowering radar is policosanol. Policosanol, which originally became popular in Cuba, consists of a mixture of fatty alcohols derived from waxes of sugar cane (the main source of marketed policosanol,) yams, and beeswax. The main ingredient of policosanol is octanosol, which is also sold as a separate product. Because of the interest in this product in South America, clinical studies have been conducted with policosanol (or octanosol) in recent years, and based on these studies policosanol appears quite promising.
It is thought that the alcohols in policosanol act on
cholesterol metabolism in the liver, but at a different part of the metabolic
pathway than statins. Many animal studies with policosanol demonstrate a
cholesterol lowering effect, and more recently human studies have suggested that
LDL cholesterol can be reduced to a degree similar to that achieved with statins,
and that HDL cholesterol can be increased by as much as 10 - 25% (an effect
difficult to achieve with statins.)
Policosanol reduces the platelet aggregation (i.e., the "stickiness" of platelets, the blood elements that promote blood clotting,) so should be used with caution, if at all, in patients taking blood thinners such as Coumadin.
No other major drug interactions have been described. Other reported side effects include skin rash, headache, insomnia, and gastrointestinal disturbances - but human studies suggest that in general the drug is well tolerated.
From these early studies policosanol looks a) like an effective and very promising non-prescription means to improve cholesterol levels, and b) like a serious drug (in that it alters liver metabolism.) DrRich would be quite excited about this drug if longer term safety studies were available. If the popularity of this drug increases over the next few years - as DrRich suspects it will - any potential side effects may become more evident. So if you are considering using this drug, it might be a good idea to discuss it with your doctor - or at least keep an eye out for more news on policosanol.