Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:
Policosanol is a compound found in sugar cane and wheat. It has been used to lower cholesterol and help blood flow. Policosanol is often taken with berberine and red yeast rice to add to its effects. It can be taken as a pill or powder.
10 to 20 milligrams once daily
What Research Shows
May Be Effective
- Dyslipidemia —likely to reduce total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol when used with standard treatment A1-A9
- High-on treatment platelet reactivity (HPR) —may reduce platelet reactivity after stent implantation as well as well as standard medicine B1-B2
- Intermittent claudication —may ease symptoms C1-C3
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
It is likely safe to take policosanol in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to take for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:
- People taking blood thinners should talk to their doctors before taking policosanol. It may interact with the medicine.
A1. Affuso F, Ruvolo A, et al. Effects of a nutraceutical combination (berberine, red yeast rice and policosanols) on lipid levels and endothelial function randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010 Nov;20(9):656-661.
A2. Marazzi G, Cacciotti L, et al. Long-term effects of nutraceuticals (berberine, red yeast rice, policosanol) in elderly hypercholesterolemic patients. Adv Ther. 2011 Dec;28(12):1105-1113.
A3. Liu S, Tan MY, et al. [Effect of policosanol on serum lipids and heme oxygenase-1 in patients with hyperlipidemia]. Zhonghua Xin Xue Guan Bing Za Zhi. 2012;40(10):840-843.
A4. Ogier N, Amiot MJ, et al. LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of a dietary supplement with plant extracts in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Mar;52(2):547-557.
A5. Tang M, Wu SZ, et al. [Effects of policosanol combined with simvastatin on serum lipids and sex hormones in male patients with hyperlipidemia]. Zhonghua Xin Xue Guan Bing Za Zhi. 2013;41(6):488-492.
A6. Martino F, Puddu PE, et al. Low dose chromium-polynicotinate or policosanol is effective in hypercholesterolemic children only in combination with glucomannan. Atherosclerosis. 2013 May;228(1):198-202.
A7. Barrat E, Zaïr Y, et al. A combined natural supplement lowers LDL cholesterol in subjects with moderate untreated hypercholesterolemia: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013 Nov;64(7):882-889.
A8. Barrat E, Zaïr Y, et al. Effect on LDL-cholesterol of a large dose of a dietary supplement with plant extracts in subjects with untreated moderate hypercholesterolaemia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Dec;52(8):1843-1852.
A9. Gong J, Qin X, et al. Efficacy and safety of sugarcane policosanol on dyslipidemia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Mol Nut Food Res. 2018;62(1).
B. High-On Treatment Platelet Reactivity
B1. Chen JT, Wesley R, et al. Meta-analysis of natural therapies for hyperlipidemia: plant sterols and stanols versus policosanol. Pharmacotherapy. 2005 Feb;25(2):171-183.
B2. Xu K, Liu X, et al. Safety and efficacy of policosanol in patients with high on-treatment platelet reactivity after drug-eluting stent implantation: two-year follow-up results. Cardiovasc Ther. 2016 Oct;34(5):337-342.
C. Intermittent Claudication
C1. Castaño G, Más R, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effects of policosanol in patients with intermittent claudication. Angiology. 1999 Feb;50(2):123-130.
C2. Castaño G, Más Ferreiro R, et al. A long-term study of policosanol in the treatment of intermittent claudication. Angiology. 2001 Feb;52(2):115-125.
C3. Illnait J, Castaño G, et al. Effects of policosanol (10 mg/d) versus aspirin (100 mg/d) in patients with intermittent claudication: a 10-week, randomized, comparative study. Angiology. 2008 Jun-Jul;59(3):269-277.
Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 4/24/2020