Policosanol is isolated and refined from sugarcane. The active ingredient is octacosanol. Clinical studies have demonstrated policosanol has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and neural-protective properties. Policosanol has been shown in studies to normalise cholesterol as well or better than statin drugs.
Often natural supplements which act on high cholesterol levels contain a number of synergistic ingredients which ensure the best possible results across a wide range of patient types. Unlike pharmaceutical interventions there are rarely side effects if taken as directed. So in addition to Policosanol you might well find the following ingredients in differing concentrations and please bear in mind that this list is a guide and not exhaustive as there are many variations which are known to work.
Red Yeast Rice has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a treatment for ‘bad blood’. It is made by fermenting red yeast (Monascus purpureus) on rice. Its active ingredient mevinolin is chemically identical to the cholesterol lowering compound lovostatin, and also similar to the two cholesterol lowering drugs Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin). According to available research, red yeast rice consistently lowers total cholesterol (by an average of 10-30%), lowers LDL cholesterol (by an average of 10-20%), lowers triglycerides (by an average of 15-25%) and increases HDL cholesterol (by an average of 7-15%). It appears to accomplish this by reducing the liver’s production of cholesterol.
* Caution Red Yeast Rice is a statin drug, albeit in a natural form and at a lower dosage.
Apple Pectin (Malus sylvestris) in the diets of humans and lab animals has been shown to increase the excretion of lipids, cholesterol and bile acids, and reduce serum cholesterol levels. Pectins operate by binding with bile acids, thereby decreasing cholesterol and fat absorption. Researchers at the University of California found that apple pectin also acts as an antioxidant against the damaging portion of cholesterol in the blood stream.
Citrus Pectin is a plant fibre obtained from the rind and peel of citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, oranges and tangerines. Structurally, pectin is classified as a complex polysaccharide (long-chain carbohydrate) characterised by its numerous long complex side chains. At a molecular level, pectin is a strong binding agent, which directly relates to its tremendous cholesterol lowering and detoxification properties. Because of the large size and molecular weight of pectin molecules, however, its actions are limited to its activity in the digestive tract.
Coleus Forskohlii plant is a perennial member of the mint or Lamiaceae family that was first discovered in the lower elevations of India. The root is used for a myriad of purposes including cholesterol control. The active extract is Forskohlin and has been shown to increase serum levels of HDL and significantly decrease the total cholesterol/HDL ratio.
Artichoke lowers blood cholesterol, acts as a diuretic and liver tonic, and lowers blood sugar. It protects the liver against toxins and infection and in addition it stimulates regeneration of liver cells. The following effects on the liver have been demonstrated:
- Promotion of blood circulation
- Mobilisation of energy reserves
- Increase in the number of hepatocytes with double nuclei
- Increase in the RNA content of liver cells
- Stimulation of cell division.
Clinical trials on 84 patients with secondary hyperlipidaemia were performed using artichoke. The following lipid values in serum were tested: total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Though there was a dramatic increase in HDL cholesterol, artichoke caused a decrease in value of the other parameters. Dorn, M. (1995), Improvement in Raised Lipid Levels with Artichoke Jui
(Cynarascolymus), Brit J Phytotherapy, 4(1) 21-26
Next article we will cover another important plant for the natural treatment of lipid levels called Guggulipid from India.