Policosanol has been used by millions of people in other countries and it appears to normalize cholesterol as well or better than cholesterol lowering drugs, without side effects. Efficacy and safety have been proven in numerous clinical trials. Heart attack and stroke have been associated with high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol) and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, also known as "good" cholesterol). Reversing these trends can lower the risk for these and other artery-related diseases.
A double blind, placebo-controlled study of 22 patients with hypercholesterolemia (excessive amounts of cholesterol) demonstrated the benefits of Policosanol. After eight weeks, the patients who had been given Policosanol had a marked reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. A similar double blind, placebo-controlled study on 69 patients also showed promising results. Those patients taking 10mg of policosanol daily for two years had an 18% reduction in total cholesterol and a 25% reduction in LDL cholesterol. The doctors involved in the study were also encouraged to report that HDL cholesterol levels had risen by 21%.
A larger patient group of 437 patients in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study received either Policosanol or a placebo once a day for twelve weeks. The patients who had been given Policosanol showed a 25% reduction in LDL cholesterol, a 17% reduction in total cholesterol, and a 28% increase in HDL cholesterol. The placebo group showed no reduction in total cholesterol. Policosanol seems to be effective at lowering cholesterol on both men and women and in all age groups. A study on 179 older aged people resulted in a reduction in total cholesterol of 13% and a drop of 16% in LDL cholesterol. Also on a positive note there was a 14% increase in HDL cholesterol and a 28% reduction in the total cholesterol to HDL ratio.
Policosanol and Healthy Hearts
Policosanol also appears to reduce the proliferation of cells in the arteries. Healthy arteries are lined with a smooth layer of cells that allow the blood to pass through with no resistance. Diseased arteries become thick and overgrown with cells. As the artery narrows, blood flow slows down or is blocked completely.
In clinical studies, Policosanol was tested for its ability to stop the proliferation of these cells. One group of researchers concluded that "policosanol's ability to stop cell overgrowth "is in agreement with the anti-proliferative effects reported for other lipid-lowering drugs, such as most of the statins." In fact, Policosanol compares favorably to statin drugs. LDL and total cholesterol lowering is similar, with policosanol performing better on elevating HDL. A team of researchers in Chile found that 10 mg of Policosanol reduced LDL 24% compared with 22% for lovastatin (Mevacor) at 20 mg, and 15% for simvastatin (Zocor) at 10 mg.
Policosanol also inhibits the formation of clots, and may work synergistically with aspirin in this respect. In a comparison of aspirin and policosanol, aspirin was better at reducing one type of platelet aggregation (clumping together of blood cells). But policosanol was better at inhibiting another type. Together, policosanol and aspirin worked better than either alone.(10,11) A related effect is that significant reductions in the level of thromboxane occur in humans after two weeks of policosanol.(12) Thromboxane is a blood vessel-constricting eicosanoid produced by platelets.
Postmenopausal Women and Heart Disease
The female hormones estrogen and progesterone appear to provide a protective effect against cardiovascular disease. As women go through menopause and hormone levels begin to drop, there is often an elevation of cholesterol and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The efficacy of Policosanol was studied on a group of 224 postmenopausal women with elevated cholesterol. After the 18 week course of the randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study, doctors noted that the group receiving policosanol experienced a 17% reduction in total cholesterol, a 25% reduction in LDL cholesterol, and a significant 29% rise in HDL cholesterol. Four serious cardiac events occurred in the placebo group compared to none in the policosanol group.
Policosanol and Diabetes
Although Policosanol has no direct impact on diabetes, clinical studies on diabetics have shown some important implications. Patients who have Type II or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) are predisposed to elevated cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Fifty-three diabetic patients with high cholesterol were enrolled in a randomized, double blind study of Policosanol. After 12 weeks, total cholesterol was lowered 14%, LDL cholesterol by 20% and HDL cholesterol increased by 7.5% in the group receiving policosanol. Other studies had demonstrated similar positive results with type II diabetic patients. The researchers noted that there is no viable carbohydrate value to policosanol, and thus no elevation in blood sugar. This is an important consideration for patients who have diabetes.