Does Policosanol Work?

If you are thinking about using policosanol to treat high cholesterol or intermittent claudication, you wonder if policosanol works. Some studies done in Cuba have shown that policosanol is effective at lowering cholesterol by up to 29 percent and can also relieve the symptoms of intermittent claudication. However, studies that were performed outside of Cuba have failed to show that policosanol is effective for these uses.

Does Policosanol Work? -- An Overview

Because policosanol is a dietary supplement, it can be marketed in the United States without any evidence that it is either safe or effective. Policosanol is commonly claimed to help treat the following conditions:
  • High cholesterol
  • Intermittent claudication (leg pain associated with peripheral artery disease).

Does Policosanol Work for High Cholesterol?

At this time, it is not clear if policosanol really works to treat high cholesterol. Most of the studies that suggest the supplement is effective at lowering cholesterol come from one manufacturer in Cuba. Several studies done outside Cuba have failed to show any cholesterol-lowering benefit from policosanol, even when Cuban policosanol was used. It is not clear what is causing these discrepancies.
The studies in favor of policosanol suggest that it may lower total cholesterol up to 29 percent and LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) by up to 42 percent. Also, it may increase HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) by up to 34 percent. However, more research is necessary to clarify this issue.

Does Policosanol Work for Intermittent Claudication?

Some studies have shown that policosanol can improve intermittent claudication symptoms, allowing people to walk further. Just like the studies of policosanol for high cholesterol, the studies of policosanol for intermittent claudication come from Cuba. Until these studies are confirmed with ones performed outside of Cuba, there is not enough evidence supporting that policosanol is effective for this use.
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