Policosanol: A product derived from the waxy coating of sugar cane that lowers both the total cholesterol and the "bad" low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raises the levels of the "good" high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. A review of placebo-controlled studies using policosanol found that at doses of 10 to 20 mg per day, policosanol lowers total cholesterol by 17 to 21%, lowers LDL cholesterol by 21 to 29%, and raises HDL cholesterol by 8 to 15% Triglyceride levels are not influenced by policosanol. It was concluded that policosanol seems to be a promising phytochemical alternative to classic lipid-lowering agents such as the statins and deserves further evaluation. (Am Heart J 2002;143:356-65)
Policosanol is a mixture of higher primary aliphatic alcohols isolated from sugar cane wax, whose main component is octacosanol. The precise mechanism of action of policosanol in regard to cholesterol is not understood. Policosanol is considered a dietary supplement in the US.