Policosanol & Cholesterol
Wondering if policosanol is a safe, effective supplement to manage cholesterol levels?We can’t deny the fact that medicinal drugs work quite well to lower cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, these drugs come with a long list of scary side effects as well.
That's why millions are looking for safe, natural alternatives to these drugs – alternatives that provide quantifiable results that can been seen at their next blood screening.
Is policosanol one such alternative? (Click what is policosanol to learn more about this natural supplement.)
Never Trust A Supplement To Do "All The Work"
Before we dig deeper into policosanol, let's talk a little about supplements in general.
A good healthy supplement should do just that … it should be used to supplement other healthy diet and lifestyle choices.
It shouldn't be used as a crutch to continue unhealthy habits that are harming your body.
Exercise: Can you set aside 20 minutes a day?
That’s all the time you need to make a difference! You can walk, run, do aerobics, dance, anything! Preferably, enough physical activity to work up a sweat and get your heart rate up. No need for a fancy gym membership to get results, feel better, and improve your heart health.
Diet: Unfortunately, most of the cholesterol-lowering diet tips floating around out there … on both the web and in doctor's offices … is misleading or downright wrong.
Thankfully, more and more doctors are now on board with the fact that most low-fat diets are doing more harm than good.
And millions of Americans continue to shy away from foods that are actually healthy (like the incredible edible egg), and are being gently guided towards the foods that are cholesterol-forming, artergy-clogging nightmares … the foods your heart desperately want you to avoid.
Okay, so you're going to tackle some heart-friendly diet and lifestyle tips in your daily life, right?
And now, you want to kick-it-up-a-notch with a natural supplement to help support your cholesterol levels.
Let's take a look at policosanol and see if it's right for you…
Does Policosanol Really Lower Cholesterol?
Policosanol started getting a lot of attention when several studies showed that using policosanol was effective at lowering LDL cholesterol as well as being able to boost the "good" HDL levels.
The same studies showed policosanol to be very well-tolerated and safe, even with long-term use.
Then a little controversy started to brew.
Because most of these studies were being performed by Dalmer Laboratories in Cuba. Dalmer is a Cuban firm established, at least in part, for the purpose of helping promote … wait for it … policosanol.
So it's easy to see why so many outsiders started to question the validity of these studies due to a conflict in interest.
Newer Studies Suggested Policosanol May Not Be Effective?
The buzz around policosanol started to die down in 2006 when studies were released showing that there was not a clear connection between policosanol and cholesterol reduction.
But what slipped through the cracks was that these studies have their own question marks and controversy surrounding them.
Let's take a closer look at three of these studies…
First up is a 2005 study conducted in Charlotte, North Carolina. The study consisted of 39 people over an 8-week period. The conclusion of this study was that policosanol does not alter serum lipid profile. (More on this in a second…)
Next up is a 2006 study from Germany that got a lot of media play.
This study was conducted with 143 adults who all had LDL cholesterol levels of 150 mg/dL or more. After 12 weeks, they reported no statistically significant effect on either LDL, HDL, or triglycerides.
And then there was a 2008 Canadian study that also failed to support previous research findings in Cuba. This study was completed with 21 subjects over a 28-day period.
Notice anything in common with these last 3 studies?
All 3 of these studies … which the drug companies will tell you shows policosanol is overrated … were done with an extremely small sample size and for a short period of time.
Does anyone really expect an all-natural supplement to show statistically significant results in only 28 days? (I hope not.)
And then there's this head scratcher from the Canadian study…
The daily 10mg dose of policosanol that was administered to the subjects was given to them mixed into … of all things, margarine.
Yes, for years the butter vs. margarine debate was thought to be a slam-dunk in favor of margarine.
But we now know that's a bunch of hogwash!
We know that margarine eaters are actually twice as likely to have a heart attack as their butter-loving counterparts.
Butter never has been the artery-clogging enemy it was made out to be.
Meanwhile, margarine is wreaking havoc on the health of your arteries and not doing your heart any favors at all.
And yet, this Canadian study mixed up policosanol into margarine … margarine … did so for only 28 days and reported it didn't match the previous findings of cholesterol reduction.
Neither Side Appears "Clean" in This Debate
The Cuban studies appear to be the most comprehensive. There are dozens of trials that include thousands of participants, some studies being administered for a year or more.
Meanwhile, other studies that don't seem to support the cholesterol-lowering effects of policosanol have been done with a small sample size for a much shorter period of time. (Are they trying to stack the odds against positive findings?)
The fact that so much of the pro-policosanol research is coming from dozens of studies all performed in Cuba is … well … suspicious.
But you should know there have been other studies done outside of Cuba – most notably, in Argentina and Russia – that also support the idea that policosanol is effective at managing cholesterol levels.
One other thing strikes me as a little odd in this debate…
The opponents of policosanol like to point to the 2006 German study as some sort of proof that it's not effective.
I find it more than a little curious that they ignore this 2002 German study which showed that it lowered LDL 21-29% while raising HDL 8-15%.
This study concluded that policosanol was a very promising alternative to classic lipid-lowering statin drugs.
And then of course, there is the growing anecdotal evidence from policosanol users all over the world who swear by the effectiveness of this natural product.
Multiple studies now support the notion that policosanol may rival the ability of cholesterol lowering drugs such as lovastatin and simvastatin to lower and manage cholesterol levels.
More recently, newer studies suggest that policosanol may support general and overall heart health in that it helps supports smooth, healthy blood flow.
This is most likely due to the recognized effect of policosanol to help inhibit platelet aggregation.
By helping reduce the ability or likelihood of platelets clumping together, you decrease your risk for a dangerous clot formation.
This is the exact same benefit that some people are seeking by taking aspirin on a daily basis.
But there’s no evidence to suggest that policosanol is harmful using long-term, whereas extended use of aspirin has been directly linked to numerous risks including anemia, gastrointestinal bleeding, or even cerebral microbleeding.
Final Thoughts on Policosanol for Cholesterol
If you're looking for one supplement to do all the heavy lifting and magically erase your cholesterol problem in a few short weeks … policosanol isn't for you.
But that shouldn't surprise you.
Typically, only drugs will provide immediate results and those always come at a price – i.e., side effects and risks.
As with most natural supplements … there isn't conclusive, definitive proof that everyone can agree on as to the effectiveness of policosanol.
Different studies have been done with different agendas and varying results are to be expected.
One thing that seems clear is that policosanol has properties that positively affect healthy blood flow and has data to support it's efficacy with managing cholesterol levels.
Combine that with a safety record far superior to statin drugs, and it sure seems like a wiser, safer choice than the prescription pad.
It's ability to reduce the risk of clot formation is clearly a desired result for most people looking to avoid an unnecessary heart attack or stroke.
But it should be noted that this natural blood thinning property means you should be cautious and seek medical advice if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications, such as Coumadin.
Combine high-quality policosanol (make sure it has the active component octacosanol) along with other natural, safe cholesterol-lowering supplements … sprinkle in heart-healthy diet and lifestyle changes … and see if you too can get the results you want and avoid using a dangerous statin drug.
> Effects of policosanol on older patients with hypertension and type II hypercholesterolaemia.
> Use of antithrombotic drugs and the presence of cerebral microbleeds: the Rotterdam Scan Study.
> Policosanol, Global Information Hub On Integrated Medicine
> American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
> Changes in cholesterol kinetics following sugar cane policosanol supplementation: a randomized control trial
> Policosanol – The Natural Cholesterol Reducer, By Ronald Steriti, ND, PhD
> Policosanol: clinical pharmacology and therapeutic significance of a new lipid-lowering agent.