Supplements for BPH
We are learning that some drugs (5-alpha reductase inhibitors) used to treat BPH, or benign prostatic hypertrophy can cause erectile dysfunction and/or loss of libido that persists even after the medications are stopped. They may also increase the risk of high grade prostate cancer. This begs the following question. Are there supplements for BPH without these side effects. The answer in short is yes. First, what are the symptoms of BPH?
Symptoms of BPH
For many men BPH is associated with no symptoms at all. For those who do experience symptoms they can range from being relatively minor to severe and disrupting quality of life. These lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) include:
- difficulty starting urine stream
- decreased strength of urine stream
- incomplete emptying of the bladder
- dribbling after urinating
- pain while urinating
- frequent urination from incomplete bladder emptying
- waking at night to urinate (nocturia)
- urinary urgency
Studies on Supplements for BPH
Several herbs and supplements are touted to be effective for prostate health including BPH. At least 3 supplements for BPH have been subjected to vigorous scientific studies and include saw palmetto, pygeum, and beta-sitosterol. Each of these supplements have been studied in randomized placebo controlled studies.
Other herbs and supplements for BPH and prostate health include stinging nettle, pumpkin, garlic, ginkgo biloba, and various minerals and amino acids. The results of studies on all supplements for BPH and prostate health show conflicting results as they sometimes do for FDA approved drugs. So when we say something is effective or likely to be effective for BPH it is based on the strength of the studies and weight of the overall evidence.
Supplements for BPH That are Effective
Effective means a supplement works better than a placebo. The weight of the scientific evidence suggests that pygeum and beta-sitosterol are effective for men suffering from BPH. Saw palmetto, the most frequently studied and touted supplement for BPH, is felt to be not effective, But, having said that, saw palmetto does work for some men. And if you’re one of those men taking saw palmetto and seeing results from it there is no reason to stop it. Though it may not be effective for BPH, saw palmetto still may have prostate health benefits.
There is insufficient evidence at this time for garlic and stinging nettle, but the current evidence suggest that pumpkin is likely to be effective.
If you have BPH and little or no symptoms it is worth trying one of the supplements for BPH shown to be effective or likely to be effective. In reality many of these herbs and supplements are found in various prostate formulas, though they can be obtained individually. It’s important to know that there are no serious side effects from any of these supplements.
If you suffer from more severe symptoms you will likely need a prescription medication for your BPH. In that case the lowest dose possible should be used to minimize potential side effects.
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