Policosanol (also known as Octacosanol, 1-Octacosanol, N-Octacosanol, Octacosyl Alcohol) is the generic term used for a natural extract of waxes which is medicinal in nature. It is used as a dietary, nutritional supplement (due to its high potency of sugar) for the purpose of lowering down LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein cholesterol) and raising HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein cholestrol), and also for the prevention of atherosclerosis with rare or shot term side effects. Thus, Policosanol forms a great alternative to statin drugs that are known to produce side effects such as liver dysfunction and the atrophy of muscles.
Policosanol functions by modulating HMG-CoA reductase and bile acid absorption inhibition in the organ called as the liver in the human body. A typical dosage of Policosanol prescribed ranges from 5 mg to 10 mg of the extract, consumed twice a day. It may be used alone or in combination with other libido inhibiting extracts in the form of cocktails or otherwise. The extract is particularly produced and marketed by Cuba. Although the extract is available in other countries also, it is found to be low on quality parameters due to the source of wax shifted from Cuban sugar cane to yams, wheat germ, bees wax and other compounds.
Policosanol is a composition of fatty alcohols (octacosanol and triacontanol, contributing to almost 60 percent of the composition and being the most prevalent; behenyl alcohol, lignoceryl alcohol, ceryl alcohol, 1-heptacosanol, 1-nonacosanol, 1-dotriacontanol, and geddyl alcohol are also found in smaller amounts) derived from the waxes of Cuban sugar cane, yams, wheat germ and bees’ wax.
Uses of Policosanol
Policosanol, in its purest form (when extracted from original Cuban sugar canes) is used to treat a number of medical conditions such as intermittent claudication (characterized by cramping of muscles on exercise; the cramps often cease upon rest) or hypercholesterolemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), hyper lipidemia and atherosclerosis. It also helps build up strength, stamina, reflex actions whilst helping prevent formation of lesions in arterial walls, heart diseases, infections, inflammatory skin diseases and the Parkinson’s disease by acting as an effective anti-coagulant.
Side Effects of Policosanol
Although side effects may vary from one person to another, some common side effects include indigestion, skin rashes, headache, insomnia and weight loss.
Policosanol is also known to increase the effects and the side effects of medications that interfere with blood clotting or anti-platelet drugs (such as aspirin, warfarin, heparin, clopidogrel, ticlopidine, and pentoxifylline) or supplements (such as garlic, ginkgo and vitamin E) or Levodopa (a medication used for treating Parkinson’s disease).
Policosanol should not be given to children, pregnant or nursing women. Also, one must consult a physician before starting any such supplementation.
Researchers and published literatures have often depicted conflicting conclusions regarding the efficacy of Policosanol in lowering LDL levels and increasing HDL levels in the body. Despite several funded researches being carried out by the Cuban government to prove the efficacy of Policosanol, the extract and its functioning is still an issue of debate.
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