Policosanol Benefits for High Cholesterol and Poor Circulation
There is some debate within the medical community regarding policosanol benefits for numerous physiological complaints like high cholesterol levels and circulation problems. Put quite simply, policosanol – a chemical that comes from the waxes of some plants like yams and sugar cane and also beeswax, is thought to be able to stave off the progression of atherosclerosis, increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), and reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). However, WebMD points out that although policosanol benefits are thought to include cholesterol reduction, circulation and claudication benefits and a reduction in narrowing of the blood vessels, there is simply no evidence to support any of these theories of that any health claims surrounding policosanol are supported.
On the flip side of this, the U.S. National Library of Medicine references a study in people that do not have diabetes that found that in doses between 5 and 20 milligrams each day (and another control group taking 40 milligrams each day), LDL cholesterol numbers were markedly reduced in participants from between 27.4% to 28.1% over a six week period. And, policosanol benefits were also observed in terms of total cholesterol reduction with study results pointing to a 15% to 17% drop over the same amount of time. Not only were these cholesterol reduction benefits noted, but the ratios of good to bad and total cholesterol were also improved as well.
It may seem surprising that a plant by product can have such dramatic effects on cholesterol levels. However, natural cholesterol lowering supplements have been used for hundreds of years. Red yeast rice, for example, is a natural product that many medications are formulated following, and many herbs and spices are useful in how to lower cholesterol naturally, and natural items like garlic, turmeric and artichoke extract comprise many natural cholesterol lowering supplements.
Part of the reason that policosanol benefits are questioned by some in the medical community has to do with the location of the majority of the tests. WebMD points out that the majority of studies that found useful policosanol benefits were based in Cuba, which is where the sugar cane from which policosanol is made from. While this does not necessarily refute the effectiveness in terms of cholesterol reduction, it does bring into question the efficacy of policosanol for LDL cholesterol reduction.
For those that are skeptical, it may be worthwhile to consider plant sterol and stanol containing cholesterol lowering supplements that also contain policosanol as well. Certain compounds like beta-sitosterol have been proven to naturally reduce cholesterol levels. There are some products that contain both beta-sitosterol and policosanol, that may prove to be more effective than either solely on its own.
But, aside from being one of the more talked about options for supplements to lower cholesterol naturally, there are other policosanol benefits that deserve equal attention, such as improvements to circulation efforts and a reduction in symptoms resulting from claudication, which have also been attributed to policosanol. Unfortunately although its use is widespread, WebMD reiterates that there are no conclusive studies linking policosanol to improved circulation. However, it is arguable that if policosanol does in fact promote healthy circulation, it could be one additional reason why the naturally derived by product is thought to be heart healthy.
The good news is that while policosanol benefits may have yet to be conclusively proven, there are actually few side effects or ill adverse reactions associated with its use, and it is considered to be quite safe. WebMD does list some side effects for the supplement, listing generic effects like migraines, rashes, skin irritation, stomach upset and nausea, changes in appetite, weight loss, bleeding gums and other mild safety concerns as related to policosanol. For these reasons, and because of the potential for yet unknown side effects, it is imperative that a health care provider be consulted before policosanol is used to ensure that it is safe and will not interact with medications and health conditions. It is also important to understand that while policosanol benefits may include reductions in cholesterol and circulatory woes, healthful dietary changes as well as regular exercise can be even more powerful, and when combined with supplements can make a tremendous amount of difference in terms of both lipid levels and overall health.