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.