Policosanol is a chemical obtained from sugar cane and other sources.
Policosanol is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.
Policosanol is used for conditions that affect the health of the heart and blood vessels including high cholesterol, leg pain due to poor circulation (intermittent claudication), and narrowing of the blood vessels that serve the heart.
How does it work?
Policosanol seems to decrease cholesterol production in the liver and to increase the break down of LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad”) cholesterol. It also decreases the stickiness of particles in the blood known as platelets, which might help reduce blood clots.
High cholesterol. Research findings disagree about the effectiveness of policosanol in treating high cholesterol. There have been some studies that find it effective. But interestingly, all of these studies were done in Cuba, where the sugar cane that is used to make policosanol is grown. Research done outside Cuba (in Germany, Canada and South Africa) found that policosanol does not lower cholesterol.
Inherited high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia). Limited research suggests that taking policosanol does not reduce total cholesterol or “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol) in people with an inherited tendency to have high cholesterol.
Leg pain due to poor blood circulation (intermittent claudication). Taking policosanol by mouth seems to significantly improve the distance people with intermittent claudication can walk without pain.
Increasing blood flow to the heart in people with coronary heart disease.
Policosanol is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when used in doses of 10-80 mg per day for up to two years. It can cause skin redness and rash, migraines, insomnia or drowsiness, irritability, dizziness, upset stomach, increased appetite, trouble urinating, weight loss, nose and gum bleeds, and other side effects.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using policosanol during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Surgery: Policosanol can slow blood clotting. There is a concern that it might increase the chance of extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using policosanol at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
The appropriate dose of policosanol depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for policosanol. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.