Claims have been made for a range of health benefits obtainable from an increased daily intake of beta-sitosterol, but its use in the area of prostate support is the most widely recognized and intensively investigated. Beta-sitosterol is a naturally occurring phytosterol found in low concentrations in many of the fruits and vegetables that form part of a healthy diet. It is relatively more abundant in most nuts and seeds and especially rich in a few plants such as saw palmetto, stinging nettle, pygeum africanum, and pumpkin seeds. Each of the latter plants has been used in different parts of the world as an herbal cure for the treatment of various prostate problems. Modern science has revealed the common link between these plants and their prostate healing efficacy—beta sitosterol.
As with most non-patentable natural remedies, the amount of research money spent on beta-sitosterol is much less than that spent on the more commercially lucrative pharmaceutical equivalents. Despite this, several well-controlled scientific studies of the beneficial effects of beta-sitosterol on prostate problems have been published in reputable journals. Most of these studies have dealt with the use of beta-sitosterol in controlling the troublesome symptoms of an enlarged prostate—a condition that affects many men as they age beyond fifty. The symptoms include frequent nighttime urination and the inability to completely empty the bladder.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter trial, published in the British journal The Lancet, studied 200 men who suffered from an enlarged prostate (BPH) (Berges R.R., Windeler J., Trampisch H.J., et al. Lancet. 1995; 345(8964):1529-32). Over a period of six months, the study concluded that: “Significant improvement in symptoms and urinary flow parameters show the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol in the treatment of BPH.”
A similar study, published by the British Journal of Urology in 1997, studied 177 BPH sufferers over a period of six months (Klippel KF, Hiltl DM, Schipp B. Br J Urol 1997; 80:427-32). The results showed that: “There were significant improvements over placebo in those treated with beta-sitosterol.” This led the authors to conclude that: “Beta-sitosterol is an effective option in the treatment of BPH.”
A U.S.-based review was conducted of all well-controlled studies of the use of beta-sitosterol in the treatment of BPH (Wilt TJ, MacDonald R, Ishani A.BJU Int 1999; 83:976-83). Four separate studies that passed the authors’ stringent criteria were identified. Of these, an overall total of 519 men suffering from mild to moderate BPH were studied. Although the authors commented that the studies were too short-term and that there was a lack of standardization of preparation of beta-sitosterol, they concluded that for sufferers of BPH: “Beta-sitosterol improves urological symptoms and flow measures.”
None of the clinical trials have identified any significant side effects of beta-sitosterol supplementation—a claim that cannot be made for the standard pharmaceutical drugs such as finasteride (Proscar). This aspect, in combination with the proven positive results, makes beta-sitosterol a highly attractive alternative treatment for men with prostate problems.
Several studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of beta-sitosterol on prostate health, including the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that can cause urinary symptoms.
One study published in the British Journal of Urology International found that beta-sitosterol supplementation improved urinary symptoms in men with BPH. The study involved 177 men who were randomly assigned to receive either beta-sitosterol or a placebo for six months. The researchers found that those who received beta-sitosterol experienced a significant improvement in urinary symptoms compared to those who received the placebo.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found similar results. The study involved 200 men with moderate to severe BPH who were randomly assigned to receive either beta-sitosterol or a placebo for six months. The researchers found that beta-sitosterol supplementation significantly improved urinary symptoms and increased peak urine flow compared to the placebo.
In addition to its potential benefits for BPH, beta-sitosterol has also been studied for its potential role in preventing prostate cancer. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that beta-sitosterol supplementation reduced the growth and proliferation of prostate cancer cells in vitro.
Another study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that high levels of dietary beta-sitosterol were associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer in a population of Finnish men.
While these studies suggest that beta-sitosterol may have potential benefits for prostate health, more research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the optimal dosage and duration of supplementation.
It is also important to note that beta-sitosterol supplements may interact with certain medications, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, and should be used with caution in individuals with certain medical conditions, such as sitosterolemia, a rare genetic disorder that causes elevated levels of plant sterols in the blood.
In summary, beta-sitosterol has been studied for its potential benefits in supporting prostate health, including the treatment of BPH and the prevention of prostate cancer. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, beta-sitosterol supplements may be a promising option for individuals looking to support their prostate health. However, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.