Policosanol: Nature’s Secret Weapon in Targeting Cholesterol – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 254
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH.
You’ve probably heard that having high cholesterol can certainly raise your risk for heart disease. Now, we know more about why that is. It’s not just about the cholesterol. We certainly know that it comes down to the inflammatory process and the damage done due to the cholesterol or the plaque buildup that occurs within the vascular system. We know that targeting cholesterol is one aspect, but we also have to have that happen in conjunction with easing inflammation throughout the cardiovascular system.
Today, I want to talk about cholesterol in general and specifically a really cool nutrient that comes directly from nature that has been shown in more than 80 clinical trials to be very, very beneficial for those who are struggling with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
The dangers of high cholesterol
Let’s talk about the really horrific statistics when it comes to high cholesterol in the United States. 93 million Americans have total cholesterol that is higher than 200mg/dL. This in and of itself isn’t always technically indicative of an increased risk for cardiovascular disease because we know we have to look at it in more specified ways. When I say that, we have to look at markers for inflammation, things like homocysteine, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, fibrinogen levels and cholesterol particles.†
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When we hear the term atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup within the vessels, we know this is one indication that can lead to a greater risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or a stroke. One thing that we now have a much better understanding of is that it’s not just about the cholesterol. It comes down to the inflammation.†
One area that I find incredibly insightful is looking at those particle sizes because, if your bad cholesterol is circulating throughout the body and it is predominantly large-sized particles, that is less problematic than if that bad cholesterol is circulating around and it is tightly dense particles. The reason why is because those small, dense particles have an easier time getting into the vasculature and what happens is it kind of just pings off those vessels. When those vessels get damaged, the body goes into a repair mode, but in doing that, we have an overabundance of this inflammatory response. That is where we get that thickening of the vessels or that plaque buildup. It is technically more of this inflammatory process that is driving up the cardiovascular risk, but we do know that cholesterol is playing a major role in it.†
Tune into the full podcast episode to learn more about the problem of elevated cholesterol.
How to face high cholesterol levels
When it comes to what we should be doing, we know that statin drugs are the primary way in which traditional doctors are going to target elevated cholesterol. For some people, that may be warranted and that may be the right thing. Certainly, this is the decision you make with your physician. We do know that some people don’t do well on a statin drug because of the potential side effects. Some people get kind of arthritic-type symptoms that go along with being on a statin. This is usually driven by the muscle damage that is occurring and it can actually get to the point where you have a very severe case of muscle breakdown known as rhabdomyolysis.†
One area that I think is quite interesting is looking at things from nature. One thing in particular that we know has been shown to be very, very beneficial when it comes to targeting cholesterol in a natural way is policosanol. Policosanol is naturally-occurring from nature and we can look at it as a component of beeswax and sugar cane. What we know is that the way that the policosanol is actually working is quite impressive when it comes to the proper regulation of cholesterol transport. There have been multiple clinical trials and clinical studies done looking at the effectiveness of policosanol.†
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There was a study done and published in 2019. This was a multi-center study and they were talking about policosanol supplementation and how that could significantly improve blood pressure. That was really quite interesting because most of the previous studies with policosanol were looking specifically at what the policosanol was doing in terms of the inhibition of cholesterol buildup within the body. This study was looking at the vascular benefit when it came to regulating blood pressure.†
In this particular study, they were taking a group of people who had not only elevated cholesterol, but also were struggling maintaining healthy normal blood pressure throughout the day. They found at the end of their study that policosanol could lower both the systolic and the diastolic blood pressure significantly. They said future studies are required to really look at this in detail.
Learn more about the benefits of policosanol by listening to the full podcast episode.