Policosanol

KWD: 20/505 = 3.96%

Policosanol

Policosanol is a unique and natural product that is derived from sugar cane wax and beeswax. It is proven effective at reducing cholesterol levels and some individuals have reasonable natural alternative to the normally prescribed ‘statin-type’ cholesterol-lowering drugs which are quite expensive to use.

Research using the sugarcane-derived form of policosanol has been mainly conducted in Cuba, both in animals and human beings. Policosanol reduces cholesterol levels and has positive effects on other cardiac risk factors because it can effectively reduce platelet ‘clumping’ and inhibit the development of atherosclerosis. 2002 analysis published by the American Heart Journal studied more than 60 clinical trials in more than 3000 patients of sugar cane-derived policosanol. The result of this study led authors to conclude that policosanol is “a very promising phytochemical alternative to classic lipid-lowering agents such as statins.” Since more than 30 million Americans are now taking the expensive drug, this could be welcome news to them. Some studies even revealed that policosanol could be even more than effective than statins or fibrates when it comes to lowering total and LDL cholestserol and raising the ‘good’ cholesterol or HDL levels. Studies showed that patients with standard daily 10 mg dose of policosanol can experience a reduced 17% less total cholesterol, 25.6% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 28.4% rise in HDL cholesterol. These rates are similar to the results from those using statin medications.

Cholesterol-lowering effects of policosanol manifested in specific groups such as post-menopausal women, elderly, people who have diabetes and heart disease. This herbal medicine also proves effective in treating claudication which is a condition in which poor circulation in the legs can cause severe leg pain especially when exercising. Policosanol reduces the possibility of blood to clot by reducing the ‘stickiness’ of blood platelets, the little particles involved in clotting, it can prevent cardiovascular disease similar to that of aspirin.

Study participants reported very few side effects. Policosanol does not require constant monitoring using the blood tests the way statin medications do. It seemed that there are no major side effects in using policosanol but some people reported weight loss, rashes, migraines, insomnia or drowsiness, irritability, dizziness, upset stomach, nose and gum bleeding. Policosanol is usually taken once or twice a day. Some manufacturers of nutritional supplements combine policosanol with other heart-healthy substances such as coenzyme Q10 and antioxidants.

Possible drug interaction using policosanol could occur. This is because policosanol has blood-thinning properties just like aspirin, so be careful not to take it with other blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Better consult your doctor or a health care provider before taking policosanol. Aside from that, the herbal medicine does not have other known interactions with nutrients or foods. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you must not take policosanol. On some rare cases, policosanol can potentially cause side effects to people who are allergic to bee stings or have food sensitivity to sugar cane. All in all, policosanol is generally a safe herbal medicine to use.