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Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is not a cancerous condition, but the symptoms can greatly interfere with your daily life. If you experience inadequate urinary flow, frequent urination, incomplete bladder emptying, or other urinary symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatments for an enlarged prostate. One option is taking a compound called beta-sitosterol for BPH, which can help improve your urinary symptoms. Consider taking a supplement as part of your treatment plan, which may also include other natural remedies or medications.
What is beta-sitosterol?
Beta-sitosterol is a compound that naturally occurs in many plant-based sources, such as soy, pumpkin seeds, beans, and avocados. It is a plant sterol, or phytosterol, which is a compound that is similar to cholesterol. Rest assured, however, this compound will not increase your blood cholesterol levels. In fact, it can actually lower your total cholesterol. In addition to its benefits for the prostate gland, beta-sitosterol offers other potential health perks. It has been suggested as a remedy for allergies and rheumatoid arthritis. It may even help prevent heart disease and some forms of cancer, including prostate cancer.
Can beta-sitosterol reduce prostate size?
Many treatments for an enlarged prostate are aimed at reducing the size of the prostate gland. Studies have shown that while beta-sitosterol is effective in alleviating the symptoms of BPH, it may not reduce the size of the prostate gland. However, more research is needed in this area.
Beta-sitosterol works by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol into the body and reducing levels of total cholesterol. This action inhibits the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Studies have shown that rising levels of DHT are associated with the growth of the prostate gland.
Can beta-sitosterol treat urinary symptoms of an enlarged prostate?
In 1995, Lancet published a study from Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 200 patients with BPH, researchers found that administering beta-sitosterol significantly improved urinary symptoms. The patients who took beta-sitosterol as opposed to the placebo experienced an increase in maximum urinary flow and a decrease in the amount of urine remaining in the bladder after voiding (post-void residual volume).
In 1998, a study from Jichi Medical School in Japan analyzed the effects of beta-sitosterol on BPH. The researchers administered 180 mg of beta-sitosterol daily to 12 patients for three months. They then assessed symptoms at the conclusion of the study with the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and the quality-of-life (QOL) score. Both of those scores showed improvement. The researchers also found that the peak flow rate of urine was improved and the post-void residual volume was slightly improved.
In 2000, a review of previous beta-sitosterol studies was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. The researchers involved included randomized studies that were placebo-controlled. All of the studies analyzed included clinical outcomes. The researchers concluded that the studies demonstrated an improvement in urinary flow, symptom scores, and post-void residual volume when the patients were treated with beta-sitosterol.
How to use beta-sitosterol
Since beta-sitosterol is naturally present in plant foods, you’d think that upping your intake of veggies would be sufficient. Eating a diet that emphasizes nutrition from plant sources is certainly recommended, but unfortunately, less than 5% of beta-sitosterol is absorbed from the total amount present in foods. So for medicinal purposes, such as treating an enlarged prostate, taking a supplement may be the best option.
Berges RR et al. Randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of beta-sitosterol in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Beta-sitosterol Study Group. Lancet 1995 Jun 17; 345(8964): 1529-32
Kobayashi Y et al. Clinical effects of beta-sitosterol (phytosterol) on benign prostatic hyperplasia: preliminary study. Hinyokika Kiyo 1998 Dec; 44(12): 865-68
Wilt T et al. Beta-sitosterols for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000; (2):CD001043