Natural Treatment Effective for Enlarged Prostate
A combination of natural products effectively relieves the symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate gland, according to a clinical trial published in International Urology and Nephrology (2001;33:217–25).
In the new study, 70 men with a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) took a combination of four different natural products: cernitin (a mixture of rye, timothy, and corn pollens), saw palmetto, beta-sitosterol, and vitamin E. Another 57 men took a placebo, serving as the control group.
After three months, the men taking the natural products improved to a significantly greater extent than the control group with respect to a number of different measures, including frequency of urination, nighttime urination, and total urinary symptoms. However, there was no improvement in objective measures like urinary flow rate or the amount of urine remaining in the bladder after voiding (residual bladder volume) in participants taking either medication.
With the exception of vitamin E, each of these natural substances has separately been shown to improve the symptoms of BPH. The magnitude of self-reported improvement seen in this trial was not significantly greater with the combination of products than typically reported with any of these products by themselves.
It is not clear why participants reported an improvement in their symptoms, but had no measurable improvement when examined by physicians. The authors do note that previous clinical trials of drugs and natural products have found similar incongruity between participant reporting and objective results.
BPH is a common condition seen in men above the age of 50 years. In BPH, the enlarged prostate impairs a person's ability to empty the bladder, causing frequent urination, difficulty getting the stream started, and nighttime awakenings to urinate.
BPH can often be effectively treated with prescription medications or surgery. However, as conventional treatments sometimes cause difficulty with sexual function or other side effects, safer alternatives are desirable. Prior clinical trials have shown saw palmetto to be as effective as the most common drug treatment for BPH (generic name: finasteride; brand: Proscar®).
Given the documented safety and efficacy of natural treatments, they can be considered as a first line treatment option for BPH. Men experiencing the urinary symptoms suggesting BPH should see their doctor.
Matt Brignall, ND, is in practice at the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center and at the Evergreen Integrative Medicine Clinic in Kirkland, WA. He specializes in integrative treatment of cancer. He is a contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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