Supplements containing policosanol have been found to work well to balance cholesterol levels.
As a natural cholesterol-lowering supplement without the harmful effects of statins, policosanol is a smarter choice for your heart health.
Biochemically speaking, policosanol is made up of a series of fatty alcohols that work hard to protect your heart. Commercially sold policosanol supplements are usually made from either sugarcane or beeswax. Citrus peels, wheat germ and caviar are other rich sources of policosanol.
Policosanol causes none of the adverse effects statins can cause. It appears to work by slowing the production of cholesterol in the liver while increasing the liver’s ability to reabsorb LDL (bad) cholesterol. The most frequently cited side effect is weight loss, which isn’t exactly an undesirable side effect for most people at risk of developing heart disease.
Unlike statins, policosanol causes no decrease in libido, and there’s a hint of evidence from an animal study that it may actually increase libido slightly. Policosanol also prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the free radical attack that makes LDL so much more dangerous to blood vessel health.
In animal studies, it decreased the uncontrolled inflammation and cell growth known to lead to artery disease. Policosanol also helps to thin the blood, decreasing the chances of a clot forming, which can clog an artery and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Policosanol has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 20%, and it raises HDL (good cholesterol) by an average of 10%. In a study of nearly 28,000 people who used policosanol for two to four years, less than half of 1% of the subjects experienced notable adverse effects from their daily dose.
In one study, published in a recent issue of the journal Gynecology and Endocrinology, researchers enlisted 244 menopausal women for whom six weeks on a conventional cholesterol-lowering diet did no good. The women were given either a placebo pill or 5 mg of policosanol each day for 12 weeks.
The women given policosanol were then given 10 mg for 12 more weeks. By the end of the study, the policosanol users had some amazing changes in their cholesterol levels: Their LDL fell by 25.2%, their total cholesterol fell by 16.7% and their ratio of total cholesterol to HDL fell by 27.2%.
Another study from the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology compared the effects of policosanol with those of pravastatin, a commonly used statin drug, in elderly patients with high cholesterol and high risk of heart attack. These patients took 10 mg of policosanol or pravastatin for eight weeks.
Those who took policosanol lowered their LDL by an average of 19.3%, their total cholesterol by an average of 13.9% and their ration of total cholesterol to HDL by 24.4%. Pravastatin reduced LDL by only 15.6% and the total cholesterol to HDL ratio by 15.9%, but didn’t raise levels of artery-cleaning HDL. In this study, policosanol also stood out for its ability to inhibit the tendency of blood to clot together and clog blood vessels.
Levels of a specific type of proinflammatory biochemical called thromboxane can rise too high as a direct result of a poor, processed-food diet, and can cause artery walls to clamp down tight, decreasing blood and oxygen flow to the heart and elsewhere. Some studies have shown a decrease in levels of this type of thromboxane with policosanol.