Policosanol belongs to a family of wax-like phytochemicals prevalent throughout nature. This substance is used in the dietary supplement industry sourced from several foods that include: sugar cane, rice bran, beeswax, broccoli, spinach, alfalfa and oats.
Sugar cane derived policosanol is a new face on the cholesterol scene in the United States but is a popular hypocholesterolemic in other countries. The main policosanol form in sugar cane is octacosanol, a long-chain fatty alcohol found in the waxy film that covers the leaves and fruit of the plants that contain it.
Policosanol is a hypocholesterolemic compound that protects LDL cholesterol against oxidation, inhibits thromboxane, discourages blood clot formation when inhibits platelet aggregation, and increases exercise tolerance. Policosanol, at clinically evaluated dosages, has shown cholesterol-lowering properties comparable to low to medium dosage levels of the statins. According to several studies, policosanol has also shown antiplatelet effects, it prevents lipoprotein peroxidation, and beneficially affects atherosclerosis development. It has good tolerability and a low rate of clinical and laboratory adverse effects.
Policosanol is an effective alternative to lowering cholesterol for many people. In a study, 20 mg a day (over a 6- to 12-week period) resulted in the following lipid improvements: LDL cholesterol reduced about 28%, total cholesterol about 20%, and HDL increased by 7-10%. Triglycerides were unaffected. During the course of the trial, participants continued on a low cholesterol diet. In other studies policosanol was shown to lower triglycerides as well as lowering total and LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol.
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