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What is octacosanol? Why do we need it?

Octacosanol is a solid, insoluble waxy substance that belongs to the fatty alcohol family. It is isolated from the wax usually found on the green blades of what, and can also be found in wheat germ oil. It is the primary component of a sugar cane extract called policosanol.

While the exact action of octacosanol is unknown, research conducted in the 1970s suggested that it could improve endurance, increase reaction time, and help athletes train longer. Other studies have shown that it could improve grip strength and visual acuity. Anecdotal research suggests that octacosanol may lower blood cholesterol levels and may benefit patients with Parkinson's disease, but more research needs to be conducted in these areas.

How much octacosanol should I take?

Most practitioners recommend between 1 and 8 milligrams of octacosanol daily, taken with food. Doses of 20 milligrams or more should not be exceeded. When taken as part of policosanol, slightly higher doses may be consumed.

What forms of octacosanol are available?

Octacosanol is most frequently available as a tablet or capsule. It is occasionally blended with other fatty alcohols as part of a larger supplement.

What can happen if I take too much octacosanol? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Octacosanol should not be taken by children or women who are pregnant or nursing. Some studies have shown that patients with Parkinson's disease who take octacosanol supplements may experience dizziness and increased nervousness. Octacosonal may also interact with the drug levadopa; patients taking this medication should consult with a licensed health care provider before taking octacosanol. No other drug interactions are known to exist as of this writing.


  • Cureton TK. The physiological effects of wheat germ oil. In: Exercise. Chicago: Charles C. Thomas, 1972, pp. 296-300.
  • Kabir Y, Kimura S. Distribution of radioactive octacosanol in response to exercise in rats. Nahrung 1994;38:373-77.
  • Pons P, Rodriguez M, Robaina C, et al. Effects of successive dose increases of policosanol on the lipid profile of patients with type II hypercholesterolaemia and tolerability to treatment. Int J Clin Pharm Res 1994;14:27-33.
  • Saint-John M, McNaughton L. Octacosanol ingestion and its effects on metabolic responses to submaximal cycle ergometry, reaction time and chest and grip strength. Int Clin Nutr Rev 1986;6(2):81-7.
  • Snider SR. Octacosanol in Parkinsonism. Ann Neurol 1984;16:723.
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