Analysis of 52 studies: both Policosanol and Plant Sterols lower cholesterol

March 22, 2005

Researchers at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Purdue University, analyzed 52 similar studies that included 4,596 individuals to compare the effectiveness and safety of both Policosanol and plant sterols. The studies ran between 1967 to 2003. Plant sterols reduced LDL-cholesterol by 11% in 23 eligible studies. Policosanol reduced LDL-cholesterol by 24% in 29 eligible studies. Policosanol also lowered triglycerides and raised beneficial HDL. All nutrients tested were both extremely safe and very effective for lowering cholesterol. The study is published in the February 2005 issue of the journal Pharmacotherapy.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

The 11% reduction for plant dterols is deceiving. The researcher included studies of a similar but less effective cholesterol lowering agent known as plant stanols in the analysis. Although plant stanols also lower cholesterol, they are not as active as plant sterols mg per mg and this could have represented a lower figure for the actrivity of plant sterols. Other studies including plant sterols alone give better results, although an 11% reduction in LDL is nothing to sneeze at. Policosanol can safely be used in conjunction with Plant Sterols for better effect since they both have a different mechanism of action. They can also both safely be added to cholesterol lowering prescription medication such as statins (including Zocor and Lipitor) for greater effectiveness.