Systematic (IUPAC) name
Octacosanol, triacontanol, etc.
Clinical data
Legal status
CAS number  YesY
ATC code C10
Chemical data
Formula CH3-(CH2)n-CH2OH n=24-34
Mol. mass (variable)

Policosanol (or polycosanol) is the generic term for a natural mixture of long chain alcohols extracted from plant waxes. It is used as a nutritional supplement intended to lower LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and increase HDL cholesterol ("good" or "healthy" cholesterol) and to help prevent atherosclerosis, though some studies have raised questions about the effectiveness of policosanol.


  • Physical properties 1
  • Studies 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Physical properties

Policosanol is a mixture of a few fatty alcohols derived from the waxes of such plants as sugar cane[1] and yams, as well as beeswax. The most prevalent alcohol in policosanol is octacosanol,[2] followed by triacontanol.

There is a much lower concentration of several other fatty alcohols: behenyl alcohol, lignoceryl alcohol, ceryl alcohol, 1-heptacosanol, 1-nonacosanol, 1-dotriacontanol, and geddyl alcohol.

Modulation of HMG-CoA reductase[3] and bile acid absorption inhibition[4] have been proposed as mechanisms.


Published studies have come to conflicting conclusions regarding the efficacy of policosanol in lowering LDL (i.e., "bad cholesterol") or raising HDL (i.e., "good cholesterol").,[5][6][7] despite a number of studies funded by the Cuban government, which produces and markets the drug.[8] Older independent clinical trials found no evidence of the efficacy of policosanol,[5] while more recent studies have found an effect.[9][10]


  1. ^ Marinangeli CP, Kassis AN, Jain D, Ebine N, Cunnane SC, Jones PJ (2007). "Comparison of composition and absorption of sugarcane policosanols" (abstract).  
  2. ^ Ohta Y, Ohashi K, Matsura T, Tokunaga K, Kitagawa A, Yamada K (2008). "Octacosanol attenuates disrupted hepatic reactive oxygen species metabolism associated with acute liver injury progression in rats intoxicated with carbon tetrachloride". J Clin Biochem Nutr 42 (2): 118–25.  
  3. ^ Singh DK, Li L, Porter TD (2006). "Policosanol inhibits cholesterol synthesis in hepatoma cells by activation of AMP-kinase". J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 318 (3): 1020–6.  
  4. ^ Ng CH, Leung KY, Huang Y, Chen ZY (2005). "Policosanol has no antioxidant activity in human low-density lipoprotein but increases excretion of bile acids in hamsters". J. Agric. Food Chem. 53 (16): 6289–93.  
  5. ^ a b Heiner K. Berthold, MD, PhD; Susanne Unverdorben, MD; Ralf Degenhardt, PhD; Michael Bulitta, Dipl-Stat; Ioanna Gouni-Berthold, MD (May 17, 2006). "Effect of Policosanol on Lipid Levels Among Patients With Hypercholesterolemia or Combined Hyperlipidemia". Journal of the American Medical Association 295 (19): 2262–2269.  
  6. ^ Pons P, Rodriguez M, Robaina C, Illnait J, Mas R, Fernandez L, Fernandez JC. (1994). "Effects of successive dose increases of policosanol on the lipid profile of patients with type II hypercholesterolaemia and tolerability to treatment". International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research 14 (1): 27–33.  
  7. ^ Chen JT, Wesley R, Shamburek RD, Pucino F, Csako G (2005). "Meta-analysis of natural therapies for hyperlipidemia: plant sterols and stanols versus policosanol". Pharmacotherapy 25 (2): 171–83.  
  8. ^ Thorsteinsdóttir, Halla; Sáenz, TW; Quach, U; Daar, AS; Singer, PA (2004). "Cuba—innovation through synergy". Nature Biotechnology 22 (12s): DC19–DC24.  
  9. ^ Liu, S.; Tan, M. Y.; Zhao, S. P.; Rong, H. (2012). "Effects of policosanol on serum lipids and heme oxygenase-1 in patients with hyperlipidemia". Zhonghua xin xue guan bing za zhi 40 (10): 840–843.  
  10. ^ Zanardi, M.; Quirico, E.; Benvenuti, C.; Pezzana, A. (2012). "Use of a lipid-lowering food supplement in patients on hormone therapy following breast cancer". Minerva ginecologica 64 (5): 431–435.  

External links

  • Policosanol at PDRHealth.com
  • U.S. Patent 6,225,354