Octacosanol supplement health benefit
September 17 2016
by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Octacosanol is a waxy substance present in some plant oils and is one of the primary components of the sugar cane extract called policosanol which is available over the counter as a pill.

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Octacosanol side effects or toxicity, adverse reactions
No side effects of any significance have yet been reported with octacosanol, but then again hardly any research has been done with this nutrient in terms of long term benefit or risk to human consumption.


Octacosanol Research

Lipids. 2008. Octacosanol administration to humans decreases neutral sterol and bile acid concentration in feces. To investigate octacosanol (OC) metabolism in humans and its influence on cholesterol metabolism, two studies were conducted. In the first study ten healthy women received daily 30 mg OC for a period of 4 weeks. The decrease in the concentration of fecal cholesterol end products may underline a systemic effect of OC on cholesterol metabolism, even though the serum cholesterol levels were not influenced.

Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2010. Protective effects of octacosanol on 6-hydroxydopamine-induced Parkinsonism in rats via regulation of ProNGF and NGF signaling.

Nutritional significance and metabolism of very long chain fatty alcohols and acids from dietary waxes.
Exp Biol Med. 2004.
Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
Very long chain fatty alcohols obtained from plant waxes and beeswax have been reported to lower plasma cholesterol in humans. This review discusses nutritional or regulatory effects produced by wax esters or aliphatic acids and alcohols found in unrefined cereal grains, beeswax, and many plant-derived foods. Reports suggest that 5-20 mg per day of mixed C24-C34 alcohols, including octacosanol and triacontanol, lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 21%-29% and raise high-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 8%-15%. Wax esters are hydrolyzed by a bile salt-dependent pancreatic carboxyl esterase, releasing long chain alcohols and fatty acids that are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies of fatty alcohol metabolism in fibroblasts suggest that very long chain fatty alcohols, fatty aldehydes, and fatty acids are reversibly inter-converted in a fatty alcohol cycle. The metabolism of these compounds is impaired in several inherited human peroxisomal disorders, including adrenoleukodystrophy and Sjogren-Larsson syndrome. Reports on dietary management of these diseases confirm that very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA) are normal constituents of the human diet and are synthesized endogenously. Concentrations of VLCFA in blood plasma increase during fasting and when children are placed on ketogenic diets to suppress seizures. Existing data support the hypothesis that VLCFA exert regulatory roles in cholesterol metabolism in the peroxisome and also alter LDL uptake and metabolism.

Octacosanol supplementation increases running endurance time and improves biochemical parameters after exhaustion in trained rats.
 J Med Food. 2003.
Male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to one of three groups - sedentary control group (SC), exercise-trained control group (EC), and exercise-trained, octacosanol-supplemented group (EO) - and raised on either control or octacosanol (0.75%)-supplemented diet with (or without for SC rats) exercise-training for 4 weeks. EC rats ran 184% longer until exhaustion than SC rats, while octacosanol-supplemented trained rats ran 46% longer than EC rats. Under the exhausted state immediately following the running performance test, EO rats exhibited significantly higher plasma ammonia and lactate concentrations compared with the values for EC rats. Although EO rats ran significantly longer until exhausted, their plasma glucose level and gastronecmius muscle glycogen concentration were not significantly different from those of EC rats. Dietary supplementation of octacosanol resulted in significantly higher creatine phosphokinase activity in plasma (44% increase) and citrate synthase activity in muscle (16% increase) of exercise-trained rats. These results suggest that the ergogenic properties of octacosanol include the sparing of muscle glycogen stores and increases in the oxidative capacity in the muscle of exercise-trained rats.

Effects of octacosanol in food physiological parameters in tail-suspended rats
Space Med Med Eng. 1997.
The purposes of the experiment were to observe the physiological effects of octacosanol in food on tail-suspended rats and to investigate the possibility of using octacosanol in health food for astronauts. 24 male Wistar rats were randomly divided into free action control, tail-suspension and tail suspension plus octacosanol (TSO) groups. Octacosanol was emulsified into water by supersound and given to TSO rats with a dosage of 25 mg/kg wt d. The results showed that octacosanol elevated the weight of thymus, improved biomechanical properties of the femur and improved membrane fluidity of red blood cell. It suggests that octacosanol can counteract some effects of simulated weightlessness on rats. Therefore, octacosanol may be added to natural foods to benefit the health of cosmonauts.

Trial of octacosanol in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Neurology. 1986.
Octacosanol was tried in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. Neurologic and pulmonary function evaluations showed no benefit.

Rodent trials
Int J Mol Sci. 2012. Antinociceptive and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Octacosanol from the Leaves of Sabicea grisea in Mice.

Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2010. Protective effects of octacosanol on 6-hydroxydopamine-induced Parkinsonism in rats via regulation of ProNGF and NGF signaling.

Emails
Q. Can CoQ10 be taken together with octacosanol supplement?
   A. As long as the dose of CoQ10 is reasonable such as 50 mg or less, I don't see a problem.

Q. I have read that you should not exceed the dosage of octacosanol supplement past 20mg, but if you are a weight lifter and very active could you take more or would it be counter productive or non beneficial and why? I always know where to look for moderate sound advise -thank you. keep up the excellent work!
   A. There is no specific octacosanol mg dosage that is correct but in general those who are active can tolerate higher dosages of certain supplements. Little human research is available regarding octacosanol supplements as of July 2008 to make any more specific statements.