Skip to main content

Natural and Alternative Treatment Study Report: Policosanol for High Cholesterol? Maybe Not.

talking to doctor image Policosanol is a mixture of related waxy substances manufactured from sugarcane, wheat germ, or beeswax. Sugarcane policosanol is the best-known form. Numerous studies enrolling a total of thousands of people reportedly found that sugarcane policosanol can substantially improve cholesterol profile. Not only was it reportedly more effective than placebo, it also proved just as effective as standard drugs in the statin family.

On the basis of this research, policosanol was approved in many countries as a treatment for high cholesterol. However, a close examination of the evidence shows that all positive studies of policosanol were performed and reported by a single Cuban research group; furthermore, that group possessed a close financial relationship with the product. Until recently, no independent research groups had tested sugarcane policosanol, in part due to legal obstacles. In 2006, however, three entirely independent studies of sugarcane policosanol were finally reported: each one failed to find any benefit.

The Bottom Line: There’s a very good chance policosanol doesn’t do anything. Let the buyer beware.

  • 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;295:2262-9.

  • Dulin MF, Hatcher LF, Sasser HC, et al. Policosanol is ineffective in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr . 2006;84:1543-8.

  • Kassis AN, Jones PJ. Lack of cholesterol-lowering efficacy of Cuban sugarcane policosanols in hypercholesterolemic persons. Am J Clin Nutr . 2006;84:1003-8.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.