Policosanol is an exciting recent addition to the list of products used in the ongoing battle against cholesterol. It is a totally natural product, derived primarily from the waxy coating of sugar cane.
Originally popularized in Cuba, policosanol is now approved as a cholesterol lowering treatment in over two dozen countries. Clinical trials have shown this naturally occurring substance to be at least as effective as the best of the current prescription medicines used for this purpose.
The relationship between cholesterol, diet, and health is complex; but it is commonly simplified by looking at the relative amounts of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and HDL (“good”) cholesterol in a person’s system. Decreasing the former and increasing the latter is, obviously, a desirable goal. The results from a number of clinical trials have shown that policosanol is able to reduce a person’s LDL cholesterol by 21 to 29% and increase HDL cholesterol by between 8 and 15%. In addition, policosanol appears to be useful in treating patients suffering from a condition known as intermittent claudication, which is severe leg pain caused by hardened arteries. The clinical evidence suggests that this painful condition is relieved by a “thinning” of the blood in a similar way to aspirin.
Human trials have demonstrated that adverse side-effects, including weight-loss, skin rashes, nervousness, headache, diarrhea, and insomnia, were mild and only of short-term duration.
As the efficacy of policosanol becomes more widely known to physicians and the general public, it is sure to become a major player in the maintenance of good health in Western society.