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Policosanol (Polycosanol)

Overview

Policosanol (polycosanol) is a natural substance derived from sugar cane wax, yam wax and beeswax. Chemically, it is a long chain aliphatic alcohol. Policosanol is the generic name given to a collection of several of these substances that are collectively known as fatty alcohols. It appears to be a promising natural alternative treatment to statin drugs used to lower cholesterol, among other things.

 

Most of the research into the effectiveness of policosanol has been undertaken in Cuba. It’s been called some of the most promising research into a low-cost alternative to expensive cholesterol lowering drugs. The results show that not only is policosanol effective in lowering LDL, it also seems to have a positive effect on other coronary risk factors. In fact, in 2002, the American Heart Journal declared that policosanol is "a very promising phytochemical alternative to classic lipid-lowering agents”.

 

 

What Policosanol (Polycosanol)  Does:

Scientists are uncertain of the exact action of policosanol, though there have been some animal studies that suggest it acts by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. It is possible that policosanol acts in tandem (synergistically) with octacosanol, another long chain fatty alcohol.

 

Policosanol appears to be absorbed into the blood stream via the small intestine, and excreted in the bile. Its major effect seems to be on lowering cholesterol, but there is research looking into the role of polycosanol in preventing and reversing atherosclerosis.

 

Health Benefits of Policosanol (Polycosanol):

Lowers cholesterol

In a number of studies, with both animal and human subjects, policosanol has been shown to lower levels of serum cholesterol in the blood. It also inhibits platelet aggregation in patients with high cholesterol at least as effectively as the commonly prescribed dosage of aspirin. In one study, patients taking polycosanol in a double-blind placebo trial showed significant lowering of LDL cholesterol and increase in HDL cholesterol.

 

Policosanol appears to have a synergistic effect on aspirin, increasing its effectiveness in lowering the aggregation of platelets in human subjects in several different studies.

 

Possible Side Effects of Policosanol (Polycosanol)

Mild stomach upset, headaches, insomnia and skin rashes have been very rarely reported. Because policosanol (polycosanol) may have an antithrombotic effect, it is suggested that hemophiliacs and patients taking warfarin should consult a doctor before taking polycosanol. Policosanol should be stopped before surgery.

 

Summary

Policosanol shows a great deal of promise as a low cost alternative to more expensive cholesterol reducing drugs. There are many studies underway to determine the exact mechanism by which it works in the body. Its low incidence of side effects and low cost make it a welcome substitute for statin drugs. Patients with blood clotting disorders or who take warfarin should consult a doctor and take with caution.

 

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