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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Policosanol

What is policosanol?

Policosanol is a popular dietary supplement that consists of a mixture of alcohols and beeswax. Many of the alcohols are derived from sugar cane, and include policosanol, hexacosanol, triocontanol, and several others.

As a dietary supplement, policosanol has been used to lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. Studies have shown that policosanol supplementation can reduce both total cholesterol and LDL levels, while raising HDL cholesterol levels, with positive results lasting up to two years. These results have been seen in various patient populations, ranging from postmenopausal women to patients with Type II diabetes.

Clinical studies have shown that policosanol may benefit patients suffering from other conditions, as well. It appears to inhibit the formation of blood clots, and shows a synergistic effect when used with aspirin for this purpose. Polocisanol may also reduce inflammation and protect the body from certain types of viruses.

How much policosanol should I take?

The recommended dose of policosanol is 10 milligrams once per day, usually taken during the evening, with meals. Animal studies using much higher doses for prolonged amounts of time have demonstrated no adverse side-effects or signs of toxicity.

What forms of policosanol are available?

Policosanol is available in supplement form as a tablet, capsule or pill. Policosanol is often sold as part of a larger dietary supplement that includes coenzyme Q10 and various antioxidants.

What can happen if I take too much policosanol? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Some minor side-effects have been associated with long-term policosanol use, including dizziness, upset stomach, and headaches. Because policosanol acts as a blood thinner, it should not be taken by patients using blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or coumadin, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen, without first consulting with a licensed health care provider. In addition, because policosanol is made in part from beeswax, some patients who are allergic to bee stings or bee products may have an allergic reaction to policosanol.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with policosanol. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking policosanol or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Canetti M, Moreira M, Mas R, et al. A two-year study on the efficacy and tolerability of policosanol in patients with type II hyperlipoproteinaemia. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 1995;15(4):159-65.
  • Castano G, Mas R, Fernandez JC, et al. Effects of policosanol in older patients with type II hypercholesterolemia and high coronary risk. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2001;56(3):M186-92.
  • Castano G, Mas R, Fernandez L, et al. Effects of policosanol on postmenopausal women with type II hypercholesterolemia. Gynecol Endocrinol 2000;14(3):187-95.
  • Crespo N, Illnait J, Mas R, et al. Comparative study of the efficacy and tolerability of policosanol and lovastatin in patients with hypercholesterolemia and noninsulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 1999;19(4):117-27.
  • Mas R, Rivas P, Izquierdo JE, et al. Pharmacoepidemiologic study of policosanol. Curr Ther Res 1999;60:458-67.

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