Can You Use Policosanol for Lowering Cholesterol?

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Policosanol consists of numerous long-chained, fatty alcohols extracted from the plant, Saccharum officinarum, (sugar cane). Policosanol is primarily available in the form of a supplement and varies according to the amount and types of alcohols contained in the formulation. Policosanol has been investigated for various medical conditions over the years, including in the treatment of certain clotting disorders, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

There have also been many studies that suggest that policosanol can be used to lower your cholesterol levels.

Policosanol & Its Cholesterol-Lowering Effect

There have been a handful of studies that have examined the effect of taking policosanol supplements on lipid levels in both healthy individuals and individuals with high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease. Earlier, smaller studies showed that, at higher doses, policosanol was able to lower total cholesterol levels by up to 20% and LDL cholesterol levels by up to 30%. HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels did not appear to be significantly affected by policosanol in these studies.

These earlier studies showing effectiveness were conducted in Cuba by one research group who had an interest in promoting the product. More recent studies - including one large, randomized, controlled trial -  have shown that policosanol has no significant impact on lipid levels.

The studies examining policosanol varied widely with regards to their specific formulation of long-chained alcohols. The doses of supplements ranged between 5 and 40 mg daily, which were taken for a period of time between 4 weeks and 14 months. Octacosanol has been shown to be the primary alcohol in some of these studies to produce these cholesterol-lowering effects in smaller, earlier studies.

However, this alcohol was the predominant component in many of the policosanol formulations used in studies.

Although there are a few studies that have examined policosanol’s effect on cholesterol levels, it is not known how it exactly works. Some studies suggest that policosanol interacts at some point of the cholesterol synthesis pathway and can modify the amount of LDL cholesterol made in the liver. It isn’t known which enzymes policosanol can interact with, but one study suggests that policosanol may interact with HMG Co-A reductase – the same enzyme that is blocked by statins. One study has indicated that policosanol increases the uptake and removal of LDL cholesterol from the cell.

The Bottom Line

There are still more studies needed in order to clearly state that policosanol can lower your lipid levels. Although a few smaller studies appeared to show a favorable effect on cholesterol, more recent studies - including a large, well-designed, randomized trial - revealed that policosanol had no effect on cholesterol or triglyceride levels. 

If you are interested in taking policosanol as a supplement to lower your lipids, you should consult your healthcare provider first. The results from these studies have not proven that policosanol can benefit your lipid levels, and your healthcare provider will help you to find more proven treatments.


Dulin, M. F., Hatcher, L. F., Sasser, H. C., and Barringer, T. A. Policosanol is ineffective in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84(6):1543-1548

Natural Standard. (2014). Policosanol [Monograph]. Retrieved from

Berthold HK, Unverdorben S, Dagenhardt R et al. Effect of policosanol on lipid levels among patients with hypercholesterolemia or combined hyperlipidemia. JAMA 2006;295:2262-2269.

Greyling, A., De Witt, C., Oosthuizen, W., and Jerling, J. C. Effects of a policosanol supplement on serum lipid concentrations in hypercholesterolaemic and heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Br J Nutr 2006;95(5):968-975

Chen, J. T., Wesley, R., Shamburek, R. D., Pucino, F., and Csako, G. Meta-analysis of natural therapies for hyperlipidemia: plant sterols and stanols versus policosanol. Pharmacotherapy 2005;25(2):171-183.

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