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Top 25 Supplements in 2004

1. Policosanol

2. Bone Meal

3. Wheat Germ

4. Lycopene

5. Essential Fatty Acids

6. Liver

7. Lutein

8. Green tea

9. Black cohosh root

10. Silicea

11. Pau d’arco

12. Coenzyme Q10

13. SAM-e

14. Royal Jelly

15. Alpha-Lipoic Acid

16. Potassium

17. Elderberry

18. Horny goat weed

19. Spirulina

20. Chlorophyll

21. 5-HTP

22. Magnesium

23. Calcium

24. Cranberry

25. Evening primrose

United States' Top 25 Nutritional Supplements

1. Policosanol

Policosanol General Information
Policosanol Research and Study
Policosanol Side Effects
Policosanol as a Supplement (Reviews and Prices)

Policosanol leads the list with a sales increase of 26,290.9 percent in 2003, though it only accounted for .019 percent of total sales that year. According to User’s Guide to Policosanol and Other Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol (Basic Health Publications Inc., 2003), policosanol is derived from wax and can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce other heart-related risks. “Policosanol has been shown to effectively reduce harmful LDL cholesterol by 25 to 30 percent and increase good HDL cholesterol by 15 to 25 percent. Even better, it prevents LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, decreases blood clot formation, promotes circulation and reduces inflammation of the artery walls,” according to User’s Guide. However, Anthony Almada, founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition, warns that policosanol supplements found in the United States may be imposters of the real thing. “Policosanol comes from Cuba, and because of the Cuban embargo, true policosanol is not available in the U.S. The supplement that is used here is chemically different than Cuban policosanol and has not been proven to work in any controlled studies,” he says.

American Top 25: Supplements Climbing the Charts by Vicky Uhland, Kristen Lewis, Christine Spehar.  July, 2004. Natural Foods Merchandiser

General Information about Policosanol:

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.

How Policosanol Works

While the benefits and safety of Policosanol have been proven in several well-designed clinical studies, the exact mechanism of action is not completely understood. Policosanol inhibits cholesterol's synthesis at the earliest steps of cholesterol's production process. It is believed to help maintain normal cholesterol production in the liver, and to promote normal LDL-cholesterol uptake by the body's tissues. Studies have shown Policosanol does not inhibit the activity of the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in the liver.

According to the National Library of Medicine, Policosanol and Lovastatin drug are similar in the results from consumption, but it is Policosanol that is far greater in it's overall effectiveness to maintain cholesterol levels while being gentle on the stomach.

In fact, "Both groups were similar at randomization. Policosanol significantly (p < 0.001) lowered low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (20.4%), total cholesterol (14.2%) and the ratio of LDL-cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (23.7%). Lovastatin significantly (p < 0.01) lowered LDL-cholesterol (16.8%), total cholesterol (14.0%) and the ratio (p < 0.05) of LDL-cholesterol to HDL-cholesterol (14.9%). Triglyceride levels did not significantly change after therapy. Policosanol, but not lovastatin, significantly increased (p < 0.01) levels of HDL-cholesterol (7.5%). Comparison between groups showed that changes in HDL-cholesterol induced by policosanol were significantly greater (p < 0.01) than those induced by lovastatin. Both treatments were safe and well tolerated. Lovastatin moderately but significantly (p < 0.05) increased levels of aspartate aminotransferase, creatine phosphokinase and alkaline phosphatase. Adverse reactions were more frequent in the lovastatin group (p < 0.01) than in the policosanol group. In conclusion, policosanol administered at 10 mg/day produces more advantageous changes in HDL-cholesterol and has a better safety and tolerability profile than lovastatin 20 mg/day."

Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 1999;19(4):117-27. PMID: 10939029 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

See "Effects of policosanol 20 versus 40 mg/day in the treatment of patients with type II hypercholesterolemia: a 6-month double-blind study." from Medline

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