Expert Opinions

Expert Opinions Archive
What do you think about Cycladol? I've heard that it can dramatically lower cholesterol.

A number of you have written in asking about Cycladol, a dietary supplement that was recently featured on NBC local news in Chicago. We did some research and talked to one of our experts, Dr. David Edelberg, about the extravagant claims being made about this product's cholesterol-lowering ability.

Cycladol is just one of a number of products that contain caigua, a plant native to the Peruvian Andes whose fruit is said to lower cholesterol. Other products made from the herb are sold simply as caigua, or as Cycladin. Cycladin, the only product that has been studied to date, is made by a company called Laboratories Farmindustria in Lima, Peru and was tested on a small group of pre- and post-menopausal women at a university in that country. The researchers found that it lowered the women's total and LDL cholesterol significantly over 12 weeks, but they noted that their findings were preliminary.

Dr. Edelberg emphasizes that based on the findings of this one study, there is not enough evidence to warrant taking this supplement. He notes that the study was very small and poorly designed and too short to draw useful conclusions. In comparison, he remarks, "The most recent study on a cholesterol medication that I've read about followed a total of 5,000 patients, who were under the care of dozens of cardiologists." He also advises,"Remember that the treatment of elevated cholesterol is a lifetime project. Virtually all university based studies are performed over a period of years."

The study also did not look at any possible side effects of the supplement, which could be potentially dangerous. Although caigua has traditionally been eaten by the Andean people, the supplements contain a dried concentrate of the fruit, and the products we found recommended taking 1,800 mg per day. The health effects of these doses have not been studied.

"I certainly do not believe we should ignore caigua and the possibility that it may have a positive effect on cholesterol," Dr. Edelberg adds. "I hope that some responsible pharmaceutical house is in the process of investigating this herb in a scientifically appropriate manner. However, at this point, I would strongly discourage anyone from trying this product on themselves."

For effective natural alternatives for lowering your cholesterol, see our feature article: "Is Red Yeast an Alternative to Cholesterol Drugs?" Also, see our in-depth reference entry on High Cholesterol.

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