Beta-sitosterol is a type of phytosterol (a plant-derived, cholesterol-like substance) that is found in a number of plants and foods, including saw palmetto, pumpkin seed, rice bran, soybeans, peanuts, pecans, tuna, and certain oils. Plant oils have the highest concentration of phytosterols. Even though the structure of beta-sitosterol is similar to cholesterol, it does not act like cholesterol and you do not have to worry about it raising your cholesterol. In fact there are studies showing that it lowers LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. Many men are interested in beta-sitosterol for prostatitis treatment because it is a natural treatment.
Beta-sitosterol appears to act like the prescription drug Proscar (finasteride), which inhibits activity of 5-alpha-reductase. Many men take natural treatment to treat enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Sometimes men with urinary symptoms of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) take Proscar and similar medications, but Proscar has many negative side effects such as erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems.
Patients looking for a natural approach to prostatitis and urinary health may turn to beta-sitosterol instead, because Beta-sitosterol works in a similar way to the drugs without causing undesirable sexual side effects.
When taken at high doses and along with other sterols, beta-sitosterol has been shown to reduce levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol the body absorbs. This may inhibit the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). There is also some evidence that beta-sitosterol may boost immunity.
Beta-sitosterol for Prostatitis — Does It Work?
Beta-sitosterol has been studied on helping men with BPH improve their urinary symptoms and their urine flow measures. Men with prostatitis often experience similar urinary symptoms to BPH. Beta-sitosterol can help men manage prostatitis urinary symptoms such as urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and urine flow. Beta-sitosterol can bind to the prostate to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Knowing how beta-sitosterol works for urinary symptoms can help doctors and CP/CPPS patients apply that information to men with urinary symptoms related to CP/CPPS.
- A 2000 review of four randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies that involved over 500 men with BPH showed that beta-sitosterol improved urinary symptom scores, residual volume, and peak urine flow (Wilt)
- Another study involving 200 men with BPH was published in The men took either 20 mg of beta-sitosterol or a placebo three times a day for six months. At the end of the study, the placebo group did not have any changes, but the beta-sitosterol group increased their urine flow rate and decreased their residual urinary volume (the amount of urine left in their bladder after going to the bathroom) (Berges).
Uses and Side Effects of Beta-sitosterol
There is no standard dose for taking beta-sitosterol for prostatitis, but men typically take 60 to 135 mg per day. Some clinical studies have used dosages of 160 mg twice daily. Whole berries can be used at the dosage of 1 to 2 grams per day. Teas are not recommended because they do not contain the volatile oils. When purchasing beta-sitosterol, you want to make sure the supplement label clearly states the amount of beta-sitosterol in the product. If beta-sitosterol is just one of several plant sterols in the supplement, the beta-sitosterol should make up at least half of the total amount of sterols in the product.
Take beta-sitosterol on an empty stomach to increase its absorption. Typically it takes about two to three weeks before the effects of beta-sitosterol are apparent. You can decrease the dosage once symptoms improve. Potential side effects include nausea, gas, and diarrhea. Talk to your doctor if you take any drugs that affect male hormones or take herbs or drugs that increase the risk for bleeding.
References for Beta-sitosterol for Prostatitis:
Berges RR, Kassen A, Senge T. Treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia with beta-sitosterol: an 18-month follow-up. BJU Int 2000 May; 85(7):842-6.
Wilt TJ et al. Beta-sitosterol for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: systematic review. BJU Int 1999 Jun; 83(9): 976-83