Policosanol

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Policosanol
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Peripheral Vascular Disease
+1 (Slight Evidence)
Lower cholesterol
-1 (Possibly Ineffective)

PRO

  • Policosanol is a mixture of fatty alcohols derived from the wax of sugar cane, yam, and beeswax. Studies conducted in Cuba reported that policosanol significantly decreased total and LDL cholesterol in a dose-dependent fashion (meaning the higher the dose the greater the effect, and vice versa). These results were found in many patients groups, including those with heart disease, hypertension, multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease, and post-menopausal status.
  • In one 12-week study, a daily policosanol dose of 10 mg lowered cholesterol levels more than did 20 mg lovastatin.
  • Policosanol has been shown to reduce platelet aggregation, or stickiness. Platelets are first responders at a blood vessel injury. When a blood vessel tears, platelets begin arriving immediately to form a clot. Unfortunately, clots can also sometimes form within intact arteries, effectively cutting off the blood supply. This can affect the brain, heart, legs, or other locations. A 15-day study of 10 mg policosanol daily showed a significant reduction in platelet aggregation in comparison with patients who did not take policosanol.
  • Clots in leg arteries can cause significant leg pain. Individuals enrolled in a 6-month study of 20 mg policosanol daily increased their pain-free walking distance from 230 to 365 meters in comparison with individuals who took a placebo.

CON

  • Most of these studies were conducted in Cuba and supported by policosanol manufacturers, which may explain why the findings have not been replicated. Perhaps the Cuban studies were biased by financial support. Perhaps the effect of policosanol is enhanced in the Cuban population or with the Cuban diet.
  • In the U.S., policosanol supplements are usually combined with red yeast rice, whose cholesterol-lowering effect is well documented. No studies have compared the combination products with policosanol alone.
  • Side effects include a variety of problems including stomach upset, diarrhea, weight loss, migraines, somnolence, insomnia, dizziness, and skin rash.
  • Few studies have investigated use of policosanol for peripheral vascular disease, claudication, and cardiovascular disease, all of which are caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

* *ADVISORY* *
Policosanol may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinning anticoagulants and anti-platelet agents, (e.g., coumadin, aspirin, clopidogrel).

DOSAGE: The tested dose was 10 to 20 mg daily.

CONCLUSION: If you elect to try Policosanol, remember to include it in your list of medications when you visit your doctor and other health care providers.


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