Policosanol, extracted from sugarcane wax, was first approved in Cuba in 1991 as an effective agent to reduce blood lipid levels. It has been since approved as a cholesterol-lowering health supplement in over 25 countries.
Policosanol seems to decrease cholesterol production in the liver and to increase the breakdown of LDL (low-density lipoprotein or "bad") cholesterol. It might also help HDL (high-density lipoprotein or "good") cholesterol work better. Policosanol also decreases the stickiness of cells in the blood known as platelets.
Policosanol is most commonly used for leg pain during exercise due to poor blood flow (intermittent claudication). It is also used for high cholesterol and heart disease, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Contents and compositions of policosanol in different plant sources such as rice bran, wheat bran, sugar cane wax, corn kernel, green tea leaves, grain sorghum, perilla seeds and grape seed have been reported . Milk thistle (Silybum marianum L.) is an important medicinal plant from the family Asteraceae.
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