Are the cholesterol lowering benefits of policosanol legit? Or is this just more marketing hype from the supplement manufacturers?Read on to discover the truth about this supplement growing in popularity…
Looking for a Natural Alternative to Cholesterol Drugs?
It's common these days for doctors to recommend their patients take anti-cholesterol drugs (or statin drugs) to control their cholesterol condition.
Unfortunately, the side effects of these drugs can be serious including muscle tissue breakdown, memory loss, and even liver and kidney damage.
That's where natural supplements like policosanol come into play.
What is Policosanol?
Policosanol is derived from the waxy material of sugarcane. Other alternative sources include beeswax and wheat germ oil.
Octacosanol is the main active ingredient of policosanol. Other components are triacontanol and hexacosanol.
Some of the more commonly reported benefits of using policosanol are…
- Helps lower "bad" LDL cholesterol
- Helps increase "good" HDL cholesterol
- Inhibits platelet aggregation
- Relieves intermittent claudication
- Inhibits oxidization of LDL cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases blood flow to the heart for those with CHD
Helps Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels
The main benefit of policosanol use that's getting the most attention these days is its cholesterol-lowering effect. Numerous double-blind studies have shown policosanol to help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol levels as well as raise "good" HDL.
Check out the article policosanol cholesterol to see more about the effectiveness of using policosanol for cholesterol management. (And why there's a little bit of controversy and debate about policosanol for cholesterol management…)
Inhibits Platelet Aggregation
While it's potential to lower cholesterol gets all the hype and helps sell product, it's ability to inhibit platelet aggregation may be the most exciting and heart-healthy benefit of using policosanol.
Specifically, it's been shown to inhibit thromboxane. Thromboxane helps facilitate platelet aggregation and is actually named for the role it plays in the formation of clots, known as thromboses.
Drugs such as Plavix, Clopidogrel, and aspirin (yes, aspirin is a drug) are used as platelet aggregation inhibitors to help prevent blood clots from forming.
Not only has policosanol been shown to be an effective platelet aggregation inhibitor, but in animal studies, it has greatly reduced the size of an experimentally-induced venous thromboses.
Translation: This is encouraging news that policosanol may help support clot prevention!
Because of it's natural blood-thinning abilities, policosanol might not be the best choice if you…
- Have a bleeding disorder
- Are taking a medication designed to inhibit platelet aggregation
- Are taking an anti-coagulant like Coumadin (warfarin)
Relieves Intermittent Claudication
Unusual or unexplained muscle fatigue or soreness due to poor blood circulation is known as intermittent claudication.
It usually manifests as cramp-like pain in the calves after minimal exercise such as light walking.
The main cause of this condition is a blockage of the superficial femoral artery. The severity of the condition is measured by the distance the patient is able to walk before suffering the discomfort or pain.
At least 2 major studies have shown a noticeable improvement in the distance patients were able to walk before experiencing this pain.
One study showed a 55.3% increase in walking distance (132 to 205 meters) after 6 months of 10mg of policosanol, taken twice daily.
Another study showed a 266% improvement … from 125 to 333 meters … over a 2-year period.
Inhibits LDL Oxidization
If the ability to inhibit platelet aggregation didn't catch your attention, this one surely will.
It's commonly known that LDL is the "bad" cholesterol. Truth is … the notion that all LDL is "bad" is misleading and not a totally accurate statement.
Your body does need LDL cholesterol. And despite what we've told repeatedly … going lower and lower with your LDL levels isn't necessarily best for your arterial and heart health.
You see, the problem isn't having too much LDL … the problem is having too much oxidized LDL.
It's the oxidized LDL that leads to plaque build-up and can trigger unwanted blood clots.
Think of it like this…
If you could eliminate the oxidation process, your cholesterol levels could be off-the-charts and it wouldn't affect your heart health.
So the fact that policosanol has been shown to help protect against the oxidation of LDL particles is extremely heart-friendly news.
Conclusion: Regardless of whether or not policosanol works to lower your cholesterol numbers, there is strong evidence to suggest that it helps support the overall health of your blood vessels.
Healthy, clean-flowing blood vessels … isn't that the end goal of cholesterol reduction in the first place? (Hint: Yes!)
> Policosanol – The Natural Cholesterol Reducer By Ronald Steriti, ND, PhD
> Thromboxane – Wikipedia
> Effects of policosanol treatment on the susceptibility of low density lipoprotein (LDL) isolated from healthy volunteers to oxidative modification in vitro
> Carbajal, D., et al., Effect of policosanol on experimental thrombosis models. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 1994. 50(5): p. 249-51.
> Castano, G., et al., A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effects of policosanol in patients with intermittent claudication. Angiology, 1999. 50(2): p. 123-30.
> Castano, G., et al., A long-term study of policosanol in the treatment of intermittent claudication. Angiology, 2001. 52(2): p. 115-25.