What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Policosanol Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

Therapeutic Uses

The Cuban research group that holds the patent on sugarcane-derived policosanol has published approximately 80 double-blind studies on their product. If these reports are to be believed, a total of several thousand people with elevated cholesterol levels have been enrolled in clinical trials ranging in length from 6 weeks to 12 months, and in virtually every one of these trials policosanol proved both more effective than placebo and equally effective as statin drugs. 1 However, in science, it is always necessary to have independent confirmation of results before a treatment can be considered proven to work. The first truly independent trials of policosanol as a treatment for high cholesterol began to appear in 2006. Of the 89 studies published since then, enrolling over 500 people, not one found policosanol more effective than placebo. 2 These results have raised serious doubts about the effectiveness of sugarcane policosanol. In addition, questions are now being raised about other scientific claims made by the patent-holding Cuban research group.

Wheat-germ policosanol, sold in the US as substitute for sugarcane policosanol, failed to prove more effective than placebo in the one published clinical trial of this product. 3 There is no published evidence to indicate that beeswax-derived policosanol affects cholesterol profile. A study published in Croatia reportedly found benefit with rice-source policosanol, but it suffered from significant problems in design and reporting. 4

The bottom line: At present, considerable doubt exists regarding whether any form of policosanol offers cholesterol-related benefits.

One study, again conducted by the patent-holding Cuban research group, reported that policosanol is helpful for intermittent claudication . () Other potential uses of policosanol have been proposed by non-Cuban researchers. A small double-blind trial found marginal evidence that policosanol might enhance sports performance . 5 Marginal benefits were also seen in a very small, double-blind trial of individuals with Parkinson's disease ; however, this study also reported that policosanol can increase the side effects of the levodopa, the standard drug used for Parkinson’s disease. 6 Finally, in a small double-blind trial, policosanol failed to produce any benefits in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis . 7


  1. Crespo N, Alvarez R, Mas R, et al. Effect of policosanol on patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and hypercholesterolemia: a pilot study. Curr Ther Res. 1997;58:44-51.
  2. Berthold HK, Unverdorben S, Degenhardt R, et al. Effect of policosanol on lipid levels among patients with hypercholesterolemia or combined hyperlipidemia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2006;295:2262-2269.
  3. Lin Y, Rudrum M, van der Wielen RP, Trautwein EA, McNeill G, Sierksma A, Meijer GW. Wheat germ policosanol failed to lower plasma cholesterol in subjects with normal to mildly elevated cholesterol concentrations. Metabolism. 53(10):1309-14.
  4. Reiner Z, Tedeschi-Reiner E, Romić Z. Effects of rice policosanol on serum lipoproteins, homocysteine, fibrinogen and C-reactive protein in hypercholesterolaemic patients. Clin Drug Investig. 25(11):701-7.
  5. Saint-John M, McNaughton L. Octacosanol ingestion and its effects on metabolic responses to submaximal cycle ergometry, reaction time and chest and grip strength. Int Clin Nutr Rev. 1986;6:81-87.
  6. Snider SR. Octacosanol in parkinsonism. Ann Neurol. 16(6):723.
  7. Norris FH, Denys EH, Fallat RJ. Trial of octacosanol in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neurology. 36(9):1263-4.


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