When it comes to lowering cholesterol naturally, nothing beats a healthy diet and exercise. However, some supplements may also be helpful, including policosanol.
What are the uses of pricosanol? While there is some debate about how effective it is, it may be able to support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels while also reducing the risk of certain types of heart disease.
What is Plinol?
Platerol is a compound extracted from the waxes of sugar cane and wheat plants. While these aren't exactly cholesterol-lowering foods, they contain chemicals that are isolated and affect blood flow and clotting.
Technically, policosanol is primarily an isolated alcohol. Sometimes also called octacosanol, 1-octacosanol, N-octacosanol, and octacosanol.
It contains about 60% octacosanol, a fatty alcohol found in the cuticular wax of some plants. It also contains small amounts of other alcohols, including triacontanol, hexasanol, and triacontanol.
Is Platerol really effective? When it comes to its effectiveness, especially in lowering high cholesterol, research results are generally mixed. Some studies and reviews find that it supports cardiovascular function, while others find that this is not the case.
Here are some common uses for this supplement and what we know from existing research about how it works.
1. May help lower cholesterol (although still controversial)
The most common use of policosanol is to reduce dyslipidemia (high cholesterol). A 2001 study in Cuba found that it helped normalize total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.
Another study conducted in Cuba in 2002 found that doses of 20 mg/day and 40 mg/day had similar effects on lipid profiles. These benefits may be especially apparent when the supplement is combined with healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving diet and physical activity levels.
Likewise, a 2017 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research concluded: “The pooled results support the lipid-lowering effects and safety of policosanol… Additional clinical trials are needed to Further confirmation of the efficacy of policosanol. Dyslipidemia."
It is thought that policosanol works by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver and may also increase the amount of LDL broken down. Additionally, it can help support the function of "good" HDL cholesterol.
Some emerging research suggests that continued supplementation with a combination of policosanol and aspirin may reduce the risk of heart disease in people with a history of clogged arteries.
On the other hand, not all experts agree that this supplement is good for heart health. A 2006 study published in the prestigious journal JAMA found that it had no heart health benefits.
As stated in the study, "Treatment with policitol resulted in no relevant changes in body weight, vital signs (blood pressure, pulse rate), or routine chemistry and hematology laboratory parameters (data not shown)."
2. Can improve blood pressure and circulation/blood flow
Supplementing eicosanol may help lower blood pressure in people who are starting to show signs of high blood pressure.
Because policosanol improves blood flow, it may reduce symptoms of intermittent claudication (leg pain caused by poor circulation during exercise). This allows people with leg pain to exercise longer or walk longer distances before needing to stop due to discomfort.
Another potential cardiovascular benefit is reduced blood clotting and the "stickiness" of platelets in the blood. It may help prevent platelet hyperresponsiveness after someone receives a stent, although more research is needed to confirm this.
3. May support healthy blood sugar levels
In addition to lowering total and LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels, a study in rats found that supplementation with pacliol also helped lower blood sugar levels. This prevents metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
What foods contain eicosanol? In addition to beeswax, polyol is also found in the waxes of certain plants, particularly sugar cane and wheat germ.
The main source is sugar cane, followed by wheat. This is why Cuba (where sugar cane is widely grown) is a major producer of this supplement.
Since you can't get enough nutrients from sugar and wheat, people take it as a supplement, both in pill and powder form.
You may be wondering: How much eicosanol should I take to lower my cholesterol?
Typical dosage is 10 to 20 mg once daily. Sometimes the dosage may be higher or lower, ranging from 5 to 80 mg per day, depending on the condition being treated.
As mentioned above, a Cuban study found that a dose of 40 mg per day did not provide additional benefits over 20 mg per day.
For extra support, eicosanol is sometimes combined with other supplements, including berberine and red yeast rice. You may find this combination in some supplements that claim to support general cardiovascular function.
Risks and Side Effects
Overall, policosanol appears to be safe when taken at recommended doses over a relatively short period of time (such as one to three years). It's unclear what effects long-term use may have on the heart and arteries.
Because it affects cholesterol and circulation, it may interact with some medications. People who take blood thinners, insulin, cholesterol, or blood pressure regulators should talk to their doctor before starting to take eicosanol (or other supplements).
Some examples of drugs it may interact with include:
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others)
- Ibuprofen (Ibuprofen, Ibuprofen, Motrin)
Although it is generally safe to take, some side effects may occur. These may include:
- difficulty sleeping
- upset stomach
- redness of skin
- lose weight
Anyone undergoing surgery should not use policosanol at least two weeks before scheduled surgery. This is because it affects blood clotting and blood sugar levels.
It may increase the risk of bleeding and fainting, so avoid use if you have any known blood sugar management problems.
Platerol is a compound extracted from sugar cane and wheat and is most commonly taken in supplement form to reduce high cholesterol levels.
Other potential benefits include regulating blood pressure, blood clotting and blood sugar levels.
This supplement remains controversial due to conflicting research results on how effective it is.
For those who do find it benefits them, a typical dosage is 10 to 20 mg per day, taken orally in powder or capsule form.