Skip to comments.Natural substance lowers cholesterol better than statins
Posted on 02/14/2006 1:50:42 AM PST by djf
Policosanol and Cholesterol Revisited
Policosanol, a mixture of waxy alcohols derived from sugar cane, rice bran oil, or wheat germ oil, has remarkable benefits for atherosclerosis that go beyond lowering cholesterol. Doctors recommend statin drugs to lower cholesterol, often even for people with normal serum levels, noting that these drugs have other benefits in stabilizing plaque and protecting endothelial cells.
A friend told me that she lowered her cholesterol from 224 to 178 by taking policosanol, but her doctor was concerned that she might not be getting all the benefits of statins (but of course she was also avoiding the side effects). I suggested vitamin C to protect the endothelium, and then reviewed the recent research on policosanol.
I found that policosanol is better than statins on many counts. In a comparative study with pravastatin, policosanol offered greater protection of the endothelium, better inhibition of platelet aggregation, and improved HDL levels. Compared to lovastatin it is better at reducing arterial thickening in animal studies.
While the most effective statin, Lipitor, is slightly better at lowering total cholesterol than policosanol, it does not raise HDL, so the risk reduction is identical. Policosanol equals Lipitor at lowering triglyceride levels, and it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Oxidized LDL is a risk factor for atherosclerosis.
Policosanol has further clinical benefits. In a study of intermittent claudication (pain in the legs on exercise), policosanol treatment increased walking distance by 60 percent within 6 months, and at the end of two years by 200 to 300 percent. A recent 5-month study showed that policosanol was better than lovastatin for improving claudication, and it also lowered serum fibrinogen, a risk for heart disease.
Statins can cause a severe muscle breakdown called rhabdomyolysis, with leakage of cell contents into the circulation. They reduce the production of coenzyme Q10, increasing the risk and severity of congestive heart failure, and they may not reduce overall mortality. The evidence suggests that patients should be given low-cost policosanol (10 to 20 mg) instead of expensive statin drugs. It is time for the medical profession to learn and apply this information.
It has undergone extensive testing in Cuba and there are 105 references on Pubmed for it, most extremely positive.
Castano G, Mas R, Gamez R, Fernandez L, Illnait J.
Medical Surgical Research Center, Havana City, Cuba.
Policosanol is a cholesterol-lowering drug with concomitant antiplatelet effects. The present study was undertaken to compare the effects of policosanol and ticlopidine in patients with moderately severe intermittent claudication (IC). The study had a 4-week baseline step, followed by a 20-week double-blinded, randomized treatment period. Twenty-eight eligible patients were randomized to policosanol 10 mg or ticlopidine 250 mg tablets twice daily (bid). Walking distances in a treadmill (constant speed 3.2 km/hr, slope 10 degrees, temperature 25 degrees C) were assessed before and after 20 weeks of treatment. Both groups were similar at baseline. Compared with baseline, policosanol significantly increased (p < 0.01) mean values of initial (ICD) and absolute (ACD) claudication distances from 162.1 to 273.2 m and from 255.8 to 401.0 m, respectively. Ticlopidine also raised significantly (p < 0.01) ICD (166.2 to 266.3 m) and ACD (252.9 to 386.4 m). Comparisons between groups did not show significant differences. Policosanol, but not ticlopidine, significantly (p < 0.05), but modestly, increased the ankle/arm pressure ratio. After 10 weeks, policosanol significantly (p < 0.001) lowered low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), total cholesterol (TC) (p < 0.01), and TC/HDL-C and raised (p < 0.05) high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C). At study completion, policosanol lowered (p < 0.001) LDL-C (30.2%), TC (16.9%), and TC/HDL-C (33.9%), increased (p < 0.01) HDL-C (+31.7%), and left triglycerides unchanged. Ticlopidine did not affect the lipid profile variable. Policosanol induced modest, but significant, reductions (p < 0.01) of fibrinogen levels compared with baseline and ticlopidine. Treatments were well tolerated and did not impair safety indicators. Three ticlopidine patients (21.4%) withdrew from the trial, only 1 owing to a serious adverse experience (AE) (unstable angina). Three other ticlopidine patients experienced mild AE (headache, diarrhea, and acidity). It is concluded that policosanol (10 mg bid) can be as effective as ticlopidine (250 mg bid) for improving walking distances of claudicant patients, and it could be advantageous for the global risk of these individuals owing to its cholesterol-lowering effects. This study is, however, just a pilot comparison, so that further studies in larger sample sizes are needed for definitive conclusions of the comparative effects of both drugs on patients with IC.
Well, that clinical trial sold the idea to me! (BTW, my TV tells me that eating oatmeal for breakfast will do the same thing.)
Oatmeal is very, very good for you! I don't eat enough myself.
I just don't get all the health stuff. For years they were saying that HRT (Hormone Replacement) for post-menopausal women caused a much greater risk of heart problems.
Now, today, they say oooooooooooppppppppppppppsssss... we were wrong, in fact HRT may PROTECT women.
I have very high cholesterol myself, and I have heard some very nasty things about the statin drugs.
I AIN'T gonna change my diet. 85% of the cholesterol inside ya comes from your liver, not your diet. Policosanols seem to regulate the production of LDL's.
No company can patent, copyright, or trademark it. So don't expect to see all kinds of commercials on TV telling you about it. But the medical reports I've read are just shy of miraculous.
"Human studies have been increasing. In one recent study, patients with LDL-cholesterol greater than 160 mg/dl were randomized in double-blind fashion to receive policosanol (10 milligrams daily), lovastatin (20 milligrams daily) or simvastatin (10 milligrams daily). After eight weeks of therapy, LDL-cholesterol was reduced 24% in the policosanol groups, 22% in the lovastatin group and 15% with simvastatin. HDL-cholesterol increased significantly in the policosanol group but not in the other two groups. Policosanol was judged to be "a safe and effective cholesterol reducing agent."-- PDR Health
In another recent double-blind study of policosanol's possible effects in hypercholesterolemia, patients received 5 milligrams of policosanol or placebo daily for 12 weeks followed by 10 milligrams of policosanol or placebo for a subsequent 12 weeks. Policosanol (5 and 10 milligrams daily) appeared to significantly reduce LDL-cholesterol (18.2% and 25.6% respectively) and reduce cholesterol (13% and 17.4%). It appeared to raise HDL-cholesterol (15.5% and 28.4%). Triglycerides were unchanged in the first 12-week period but were significantly reduced (5.2%) by the end of the second 12-week period. Side effects were few and minor. There were 11 serious (7 of these were vascular) adverse events among those taking policosanol.
Policosanol appears to significantly reduce platelet aggregation in both healthy and hypercholesterolemic individuals, apparently proving as effective (at 20 milligrams daily doses) as aspirin (100 milligrams per day). The substance also appears to demonstrate beneficial effect in patients with intermittent claudication. Long-term therapy (20 months) using 5 milligrams of policosanol twice a day resulted in significant improvement in treadmill exercise performance and exercise ECG responses in a group of coronary heart disease patients. The addition of 125 milligrams of aspirin daily further enhanced these results. It is hoped that others will confirm these very promising, largely Cuban studies."
This was the one that really got me. After long-term treatment, the patients were able to go on the treadmill THREE TIMES further than they were when the study started.
A long-term study of policosanol in the treatment of intermittent claudication.
Castano G, Mas Ferreiro R, Fernandez L, Gamez R, Illnait J, Fernandez C.
Medical Surgical Research Center, Havana City Cuba.
Policosanol is a cholesterol-lowering drug with concomitant antiplatelet effects. This study was undertaken to investigate the long-term effects of policosanol administered to patients with moderately severe intermittent claudication. The study consisted of a 6-week single-blind, placebo-controlled run in phase, followed by a 2-year double-blind, randomized treatment step. Fifty-six patients who met study entry criteria were randomized to receive placebo or policosanol 10 mg twice daily. Walking distances on a treadmill (constant speed 3.2 km/h, slope 10 degrees, temperature 25 degrees C) were assessed before and after 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of treatment. Both groups were similar at randomization. After 6 months of therapy, policosanol significantly increased (p < 0.01) the initial claudication distance from 125.9 +/- 8.7 m to 201.1 +/- 24.8 m and the absolute claudication distance from 219.5 +/- 14.1 m to 380.7 +/- 50.2 m. Both variables remained unchanged in the placebo group (p < 0.01). These effects did not wear off but improved after long-term therapy, so that final values were 333.5 +/- 28.6 m (initial claudication distance) and 648.9 +/- 54.1 m (absolute claudication distance); both significantly greater (p < 0.0001) than those obtained in the placebo group, which showed values of 137.9 +/- 21.8 m (initial claudication distance) and 237.7 +/- 28.1 m (absolute claudication distance), respectively. At study completion, 21 policosanol and 5 placebo patients attained increases in claudication distance values > 50% (p < 0.001). Policosanol, but not placebo, significantly increased the ankle/arm pressure index. In addition, from month 6 up to study completion, the frequency of patients reporting improvement of lower limb symptoms was greater in the policosanol group than in the placebo group. The treatment was tolerated well. There were 16 withdrawals (12 placebo, 4 policosanol) from the study. Eight patients in the placebo group experienced a total of 10 serious adverse events, 8 of which were vascular events, compared with none in the policosanol group (p < 0.01). In addition, 3 patients in the policosanol group and 3 patients in the placebo group reported mild adverse events during the study. The present results demonstrate the long-term usefulness of policosanol therapy to treat patients with intermittent claudication.
I'm on statins as well.
But if you think I'm going trust ANYTHING coming out of Cuba, you're nuts.
I'll trust what my NIH brother tells me to do.
Right now, it's time for another breakfast chili dog.
Yep. That and your looking at ~$10/mo for Policosanol vs. $75/mo for Zocor ...
Is it obtained at health food stores?? or do you need a "scrip"?
Well, I try to keep an open mind about things.
Now they have discovered basically that just about everyone in North America doesn't get enough Vitamin D. The RDA for Vitamin D is 400IUs per day.
But half an hour in full sunlight will give you over 10,000 units. Why would the body make 10,000 units if it only needs 400?
Vitamin D is a growth regulator and they are now estimating you could safely take 1000-2000 units per day.
And other estimates are that as many as 50,000 people per year have died from cancers that could have been prevented by enough Vitamin D - in large part because they bitched and moaned and hounded us to stay out of the sun.
Fifty percent of doctors graduated at the bottom half of their class.
It's a dietary supplement. No prescription required.
I Googled Policosanol, quite a few places on the web to buy it.
I pretty much decided the RDA was screwed-up ever since I read "Life Extension".
Even before that, I looked into the govt's microwave exposure stuff and found their minimums inadequate.
If I weren't doing massive vitamins, I'd probably be dead by now, what with all the bad things I've done to my tent
The tent part is from a Jimmy Buffett song "you treat your body like a temple, I treat mine like a tent" LOL!.
I refuse to trust anything out of Cuba.
Thanks for the info however, I'll look into it.
Oh, and I treat doctors like car mechanics, and I'm a good mechanic. If I'm up to speed on my stuff I can usually blow them away. Most people are in awe of docs, not me.
Well, because of something in my genetic structure, I never had a period, so I guess I'm not post-menopausal.
I think it's that pesky Y chromosome.
Will have to keep Policosanol in mind if either of us test with high cholesterol. Neither of us do, considering our age we just might never test high but that may be due to diet.
I agree. While it does sound promising, the drug comes from sugar cane, Cuba's national product. I don't think Cuba is above faking studies for the sake of selling more sugar cane. I'll wait for studies conducted outside of the "Worker's Paradise".
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