Policosanol - safety, effects, 4 Hour Body and the PAGG stack
Policosanol (sometimes spelled polycosanol) is a natural plant wax extract, used as a food supplement intended to lower low density cholesterol and raise high density cholesterol, as well as to prevent atherosclerosis (arterial wall thickening). It is derived from sugar cane and yams primarily, however it can also be extracted from bees wax. Chemically, it is defined as a group of fatty alcohols, predominantly octosanol and triacontanol.
Policosanol was discovered back in the 1980s, when Japanese scientists fed wax from sugar cane to rats and pigs - and noticed a drop in cholesterol. It was Cuban scientists who isolated it though and extracted the active ingredients above. It is now used extensively in Cuba as a general health tonic, and for the cholesterol-altering benefits indicated above - LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the 'bad' kind implicated in various cardiac diseases, where as HDL (high density lipoprotein cholesterol) is the good kind that you need to have instead. There are detailed state-funded studies in Cuba that testify to policosanol's effectiveness in this regard, as well as to its anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and neuroprotective properties - however independent replication evidence is in short supply. This may be because unpatented plant waxes are unlikely to be profitable in clinical testing though, and more conclusive trials may one day be conducted somewhere - but if a natural substance is getting better outcomes than commercially profitable statins, we could have a long wait.
The precise biochemical pathways involved are still unclear, but policosanol appears to work through blocking the body's synthesis of cholesterol, whilst simultaneously inhibiting the oxidation of LDL. However there are no known adverse interactions with other medications used for blood thinning, or to treat high cholesterol or heart disease. It has been mega-dose animal tested up to 1724x human doses without toxic effects.
Policosanol has achieved new attention recently however as an element of the PAGG supplement stack, recommended by Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Body, to accompany the Slow Carb Diet. In this stack it is combined with Alfa-lipoic Acid, aged Garlic extract and Green tea Flavenols. The rest of the stack is taken 3 times daily before meals, with a final bedtime dose including Policosanol taken at bedtime (the complicated dosing is best achieved with a combined PAGG stack supplement capsule containing correct recommended proportions of everything).
Ferris included policosanol in the stack following self-experimentation in cholesterol lowering, and discovering weight loss as a serendipitous by-product. He tested dosages and timing extensively and found greatest effect taking a single bedtime dose of 23mcg, as included in the PAGG stack. The Cuban studies had reported weight loss as a side effect in a small propotion of respondents, however had not tested this specifically or scheduled nighttime dosing for maximum effect.
Although specific scientific evidence in support of policosanol remains in short supply, the safety findings from Cuba along with Ferriss' numerous self-testers certainly suggests that anyone NOT under medical supervision for other conditions, or already taking blood-thinning medication, should be able to experiment safely for personal weight loss effect at recommended levels.