Policosanol: Lowering Blood Cholesterol The Natural Way

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH



Policosanol is found in sugar caneAbout 100 million Americans (close to one third of the entire population) have total blood cholesterol exceeding 200mg/dl, the threshold established by the National Cholesterol Education Program as the upper limits of normal. About 40 million of these have levels above 240 mg/dl, prompting conventional medicine to prescribe more than 40 million prescription on cholesterol lowering drugs, the majority of which belongs to the Statin class of drugs. Is there any natural lipid-lowering alternative to drugs? The answer is Yes. Consider policosanol.

Cholesterol and heart function are systems in the body-wide Neuroendocrine Metabolic (NEM) Stress Response. The NEM Stress Response includes six systems: hormones, neuroaffect, cardionomic, inflammatory, metabolic and detoxification. It is important because when there is an imbalance in one, it has effects throughout the body. For example, if adrenals are not functioning correctly and cortisol production is compromised, there is an imbalance in hormones and an increase in an inflammatory response. It is important to understand this, to understand the need for balance in the body in order to achieve optimum health.

What is Policolsanol?

Policosanol is a complex mixture of compounds usually extracted from sugar cane – but sometimes from beeswax – that reduces blood cholesterol levels. The purified extract from these two are slightly different. The active ingredient is called octacosanol, and it is more abundant in the extract form sugar cane.

These substances work by inhibiting the function of an enzyme in the liver called HMG-CoA reductase, which is required for the body to produce cholesterol. Only 15% of the body’s cholesterol comes from the diet. The other 85% is made in the liver in response to the needs of the body. That is why prescription drugs that inhibit HMG-CoA reductase are effective cholesterol lowering agents while dietary approaches often fail.

Research studies since 1993 have consistently shown policosanol effectiveness as a cholesterol-lowering agent. In one of the earlier trials, 10 mg of policosanol administered once a day for 24 weeks caused total cholesterol levels to decrease by 22.1%. Interestingly, even a 1 mg dose resulted in a 16% reduction. By comparison, the total blood cholesterol in the control group increased by 5%.

Extremely high doses of policosanol have been used in laboratory setting to establish its safety. At the huge dose of 50 mg per kg of body weight (1700 times the level suggested for human use) for 6 months, there is not visible difference of organ pathology as examined under the microscope in comparison with placebo treated control animals. This is an important consideration, because one of the most common toxic effects of cholesterol lowering drugs such as Statin drugs is its liver toxicity observed in laboratory rats given a high dose (50 mg/kg). Liver damage is the most typical result of ingesting foreign compound, since liver is the major detoxification center of the body. Policosanol is a natural compound and not a foreign one. It is therefore noteworthy that policosanol has no ties to any liver damage.

The effectiveness of policosanol on a cellular and molecular level is equally impressive. There was no evidence of policosanol-induced damage to DNA when rats were given large doses of it (5-500 mg/kg body weight) for 90 days.

Policosanol inhibits lipid oxidation in addition to inhibiting cholesterol synthesis. In addition to lowering the total cholesterol in the blood, policosanol inhibits lipid oxidation in the bloodstream that is commonly a precursor to strokes and atherosclerotic heart disease.

In a study involving 48 patients with an average age of 67, it was shown that an intake of 50 mg of octacosanol derived from beeswax reduces the lipid oxidation level by a modest but significant 6.7%. In addition, the antioxidant capacity of the blood increased by 20.3% compared to the untreated group. Older patients often take numerous medications, such as calcium-channel blockers, beta-blockers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, diuretics, nitrates, digitalis, and antihistamines. None of the patients taking these drugs had any adverse reaction when taking policosanol at the same time.

Policosanol and Other Helpful Nutrients to Combat High Cholesterol

Garlic is another alternative with PolicosanolIf your cholesterol is high and you do not wish to take prescription drugs to lower it, there are multiple natural alternatives. Consider guccolipid, pantethine, fiber, chromium, niacin, garlic, Vitamin C, and policosanol. These can be taking alone or in combination for maximum effect in a properly blended nutritional cocktail to reduce total cholesterol, increase the good HDL cholesterol, and reduce the bad LDL cholesterol.


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3 Comments

  • cis says:

    But why is cholesterol high? If the body raises cholesterol for its own needs, surely we should help the body with the root cause, not just lower the cholesterol and thus fight our bodies…

  • Pascol says:

    Dr. Lam, I know it is considered safe, but are there any levels that can be dangerous?