Policosanols as nutraceuticals: Fact or fiction

Researchers at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, pound what might be the final nail in the policosanol coffin.

First, the details.

  • Policosanols are derived from the wax constituent of plants.
  • In the early 1990s, researchers at Dalmer Laboratories in La Habana Cuba produced the first policosanol supplement from sugarcane wax.

And, the results.

  • Cuban studies claim that 1 to 20 mg/day of the original policosanol supplement are effective at producing significant reductions in total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • For the most part, studies reporting efficacy of policosanol were carried out by 1 research group in Cuba.
  • Research outside of Cuba has failed to validate the cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant efficacy of policosanol.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “The absence of independent and external studies confirming the therapeutic benefits of policosanol in disease prevention and treatment raises questions regarding their true efficacy.”

Despite the conflicting evidence, the original policosanol supplement has been approved as a cholesterol-lowering drug in over 25 countries throughout the Caribbean and South America.

You can follow the history of policosanol research here.

10/31/10 22:37 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.