Policosanol is a mixture of alcohols that occur naturally in the sugar cane plant. It has shown promise in studies to be effective in lowering cholesterol. Policosanol works by inhibiting the formation of the cholesterol within the body. Cholesterol is primarily made through the liver. In some people, genetic factors keep the liver from stopping the production of cholesterol, regardless of diet or exercise efforts. The antioxidant properties of Policosanol help breakdown the cholesterol that is made, as well as controlling the actual production of it in the liver, as well as in the heart, and fatty tissue. As a supplement, Policosanol works as well as, and perhaps somewhat better than prescribed drugs (statin) in lowering cholesterol levels.
An American Heart Journal review published in 2002, and listing findings from 60 clinical trials and over 3000 patients, showed Policosanol to have very promising results as an “alternative to lipid-lowering agents such as statin.” In another study done, when Policosanol was taken in doses of 10mg per day over a 6 to 12 week period, participants showed a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels up to 12%, placing it on a similar level with prescription statin drugs without many of the serious side effects associated with those drugs. One other trial (437 participants, double-blind, randomized) showed a lowering of LDL serum cholesterol between 18.5 and 25.6 percent when Policosanol was taken daily for 24 weeks. It also reported a total reduction in overall cholesterol levels between 13 and 17.4 percent, and an HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) increase between 15.5 and 28.4 percent. Other benefits reported have been enhanced benefits through exercise, no adverse side effects in sexual activity, and lowering the formations of lesions in the arteries of those with heart disease.
Because Policosanol is a blood-thinning agent, those already on the prescription warfarin and hemophiliacs should be cautious in its use. Also, Policosanol supplements should be stopped at least a week prior to surgery. No other adverse effects have been reported, in fact, Policosanol has proven in human clinical studies to be extremely safe and effective. Suggested dosage is 1-2 capsules taken daily, and because cholesterol production increases at night, it is suggested to take the supplement either with or after the evening meal.