How Policosanol Benefits Your Health
There are still some people who have never heard of policosanol! But with the whole world seemingly suffering from a cholesterol problem, it’s a little surprising that the policosanol benefits are not more widely known.
Policosanol refers to natural substances derived from cane sugar, beeswax, and a number of other foods. While it is sold in many health food stores and even some pharmacies for its cholesterol-lowering benefits, the name still draws a blank stare from many people when I mention it.
A Mini-History Of Policosanol
Policosanol came into the spotlight during the 1990s for its ability to reduce high cholesterol. This was at a time when the cholesterol ‘problem’ was seen as one of the greatest medical challenges.
It also gained a large spike in popularity in 2010 and 2011, when it was recommended as the “P” in the “PAGG” fat burning stack recommended by Tim Ferriss in his bestselling book, The 4 Hour Body.
PAGG stands for “policosanol, alpha lipoic acid, green tea and garlic”. As a result of its fame from this book, policosanol gained a huge boost in sales – as did Athletic Greens, we’re happy to say.
Perhaps part of the confusion in people’s minds about policosanol nowadays comes from the fact that something promoted as ‘healthy’ can come from a sugar plant!
Policosanol is essentially a long-chain alcohol molecule, waxy and fat-soluble in nature. It has been the subject of many studies that showed a positive effect on cholesterol and cardiovascular health to rival statin drugs.
While statins continue to dominate pill boxes around the world, the bulk of the research on the policosanol benefits was conducted in small trials by sugarcane companies in Cuba and awaits unbiased validation.
What the studies found was significant and exciting but it has been brushed under the carpet in many quarters, due to lack of verification in the wider medical community.
As well as being found in sugarcane and beeswax, policosanol is also present in foods such as wheat germ, yams, and rice bran.
How Does Policosanol Work In The Body?
The way that policosanol appears to benefit the body is in its effects on certain enzymes involved in cholesterol synthesis.
Enzymes such as AMPK and HMG CoA reductase change the rate at which our bodies create and excrete cholesterol. Policosanol either stimulates or inhibits their function to produce favorable results on cholesterol levels.
It may also speed up the metabolism of LDL cholesterol, meaning that it’s processed, used, bound, and excreted more efficiently.
More Detail About The Main Policosanol Benefits
Not all of the ingredients in Athletic Greens have one clear standout benefit. Many of them have multiple benefits or work ‘behind the scenes’ in bodily processes and are a little difficult to measure and to quantify.
Policosanol is different in that it has two clear winners in terms of health benefits. And you already know that these are cholesterol management and cardiovascular health.
→ Cholesterol management
Policosanol has been shown to lower total cholesterol levels, boost HDL cholesterol levels and prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in several studies carried out during the early years of the millennium.
→ Reducing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease
The same studies found that policosanol may lower triglycerides, prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and slightly lower blood pressure: several of the key risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
Other Potential Policosanol Benefits
Besides these major policosanol benefits for human heart health, it may be of assistance in other related areas too:
→ For intermittent claudication
This is a condition of cramping, vascular dysfunction, and poor circulation. Policosanol may reduce the symptoms of intermittent claudication, according to several studies.
→ Improving mood and reaction time in athletes
There is also some limited evidence for the use of policosanol in boosting mood and reaction time. One 2009 study found that policosanol, in combination with fish oil, was effective at doing this in athletes.
Unfortunately, we need to temper all comments about policosanol with the fact that more research is required to support its health benefits.
How To Enjoy The Benefits Of Policosanol Safely
Doses of policosanol start at 5 mg per day, increasing to 20 mg (usually taken in divided doses) for cholesterol management.
It’s considered an extremely safe supplement, with doses up to 80 mg per day for 12 weeks recorded without side effects.
However, caution is advised for those taking Warfarin or other blood-thinning medication, due to possible effects on platelets.
Why Supplement With Policosanol?
Policosanol’s benefits for high cholesterol and the cardiovascular system are exciting. It offers cholesterol level reductions similar to statin drugs without the side effects.
The possible beneficial effects it has on acute blood pressure issues also show great promise.
However, policosanol benefits always have to come with a caveat: the research backing up the claims has consistently come under fire for being conducted by companies with a vested interest in the supplement.
Indeed, there are even some studies that contradict the Cuban studies, and this needs to be noted.
However, while policosanol awaits further scientific support, the lack of side effects means that it remains a safe and seemingly therapeutic option for those at risk of heart disease.
As with most of the supplements in Athletic Greens, policosanol works best in combination with other health-promoting ingredients.
It works well with the beta glucans and globe artichoke extract to help lower cholesterol levels. It also complements CoQ10 in reducing overall cardiovascular risk by maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
It’s easy to see why we’ve included it in Athletic Greens; most people can benefit from the ability to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. This is especially the case when it is considered a safe and natural supplement like policosanol, even at high doses.
Bear in mind that results on cholesterol levels won’t be observed overnight. The cholesterol-lowering benefits of policosanol take time to show.
Hopefully, there will come a time in the near future when the benefits of policosanol are verified in more extensive studies and more widely accepted. Until then, we have to go with what we see from the available anecdotal evidence.