What are the side effects of policosanol for patients?

Policosanol is a mixture of different ingredients used by doctors to treat patients with high cholesterol. Studies in the mid-1980s discovered that the medication worked to reduce cholesterol levels in rats and other lab animals, but it wasn't until 1994 that it was approved for use on humans.

There are now millions of people taking the medication daily, either by prescription or over the counter. Doctors recommend it for those with high cholesterol, while others take it as a preventive measure. Despite the fact that it's so highly used, there are still some specific side effects associated with taking it.

Common Side Effects

There are three side effects most often reported by users of policosanol, but these occur only in a small amount of users. A little less than 2 per cent of users report experiencing extreme weight loss. This percentage of users is the amount of those who actually told their doctor and sought help, which means there may have been others experiencing the same thing. Another common side effect is a headache, which ranges from extreme to fairly mild. There are also some who notice an increase in urination.

Rare Side Effects

There are some side effects reported in a very small number of policosanol users. Some users report bouts of insomnia, while others claim that they have an increased appetite. They are also reports of patients feeling nervous or jittery for long periods of time and feeling highly excitable. Additionally, some users have skin rashes and feel dizzy, especially when they stand quickly after taking the medication. There are also reports of hypertension and hypotension.

Other Side Effects

There are other side effects associated with users of policosanol. An upset stomach is a side effect, and this sometimes makes the user feel nauseous. There are also reports of vomiting and diarrhoea in a small number of cases. Some users also claim to feel sleepy throughout the day, though some doctors attribute this to the insomnia they experience at night. There are also a few reports of users who experienced bleeding in their gums or noses while taking the medication.


Studies have found that policosanol is safe for humans and animals according to a 2007 study by Pantox Labratories. It has been tested on both human subjects and animals such as monkeys, dogs and rats. This study gave rats a dosage of policosanol that was over 1,000 times the dose prescribed for an adult male, and the rats experienced no significant side effects. Tests on other types of animals found that the medication didn't result in any serious problems. The same was found when the medication was tested on human subjects.


A study done by Dr. Richard N. Fogoros in 2006 found that patients taking blood thinners and medications that thin the blood should be especially careful when using policosanol. He found that the medication caused the platelets to change their shape and form and become less thick and sticky. The stickiness and thickness is what causes the blood platelets to clot. Those taking blood thinners found that their blood stopped clotting or clotted at a much smaller rate. So far there is no evidence that the drug interacts negatively with any other medications.