If you have recently been diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia, you may be wondering what treatment options are available.
One of the most popular natural remedies is beta-sitosterols.
Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol with chemical structures similar to that of cholesterol. It is a white, waxy powder with a characteristic odor.
You likely stumbled upon this while googling or talking among friends.
But can this substance be that powerful? Let’s take a closer look at what beta-sitosterol is and how it can improve your health.
Where are Beta-sitosterols?
Beta-sitosterols are plant-based substances and can be found in vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts.
These substances are called phytosterols and are similar in chemical structure to the cholesterols naturally found in the human body.
How does it work?
Beta-sitosterol is a plant substance similar to cholesterol. Some research indicates that it might help reduce cholesterol levels by limiting the amount of cholesterol that enters the body. It can also bind to the prostate to help reduce prostate inflammation.
Beta-sitosterol works to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which is a key trigger in the development of BPH and prostate cancer.
Flomax and other common prostate drugs were designed to mimic the way beta-sitosterol works. In fact, these drugs are called 5-alpha-reductase-inhibitor drugs because of it! However, although they can provide symptomatic relief, they have widely documented side effects.
Multiple randomized studies have confirmed the efficacy of beta-sitosterol in alleviating the types of prostate discomfort that aging men so frequently encounter.
Beta-sitosterols and BPH
These plant sterols are often used by men to treat an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. BPH is common among men 60 and older.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostate, expands to twice or even three times its regular size.
The growing prostate gland gradually presses against the urethra and restricts urinary flow.
As a result, the bladder muscle becomes stronger, thicker, and more sensitive, causing it to contract.
This results in more frequent urination, and as the urethra becomes increasingly narrowed, the urine remains in the bladder, accounting for urinary problems.
Beta-sitosterols have been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of BPH by increasing your urine flow rate.
This was shown in a systematic review, which assessed 519 men from 4 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials, (lasting 4 to 26 weeks).
Three trials used non-glucosidic B-sitosterols and one utilized a preparation that contained 100% B-sitosteryl-B-D-glucoside.
In these studies, beta-sitosterol improved urinary symptom scores and urinary flow rates. It also significantly reduced the volume of residual urine in the bladder.
At the University of Bochum in Herme, Germany, Dr. Berges and his associates used pure beta-sitosterol with 200 men over the course of a year, half of whom received a placebo. They said that ‘significant improvement in symptoms and urinary flow parameters show the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol in the treatment of BPH.’
A follow-up study by Dr.Berges in 2000 further highlighted the benefits of beta-sitosterol for urinary symptoms.
This time they did a long term study, over an eighteen-month period. This was a double-blind study and they measured basic indexes to show how the participants were affected.
The untreated men got worse with time, while the men treated with beta-sitosterol experienced significant improvement in urinary symptoms associated with BPH. The researchers concluded that the beneficial effects of beta-sitosterol treatment.. were maintained for eighteen months.’
Beta-sitosterol and Prostate Cancer
These plant sterols are also used to treat other prostate conditions, other than BPH.
Research is being done to prove how these powerful sterols can be used to prevent colon and prostate cancer.
In early studies, beta-sitosterol has been shown to reduce cancer cell growth and even cause cancer cell death.
These studies have only been done on prostate cancer cells in tubes. No tests have been conducted on humans yet.
However, these are promising results that beta-sitosterols and other phytosterols can eventually be used to both treat and prevent cancer.
A study published in Nutrition and Cancer compared the effect of two dietary sterols on prostate cancer cells in vitro. beta-Sitosterol, the most common plant sterol, and cholesterol, and animal sterol, were compared for effect on cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis, and sphingomyelin cycle intermediates.
Cells were treated for up to seven days with sterols. Compared with cholesterol, beta-sitosterol decreased growth by 24% and induced apoptosis fourfold, which was accompanied by cell rounding and a 50% increase in ceramide production.
The results suggest that the decrease in cell number and increase in apoptosis associated with SIT treatment are mediated by activating the sphingomyelin cycle.
What kinds of supplements contain Beta-sitosterols?
You can get beta-sitosterols through your diet, in foods such as peanuts, soybeans, wheat germ, rice bran, and corn oils.
However, many men opt to use a dietary supplement to meet their needs. This is because they get higher doses of beta-sitosterols than in their food.
Studies have shown that beta-sitosterols are safe and have no adverse long-term effects on your health.
It’s important to understand that dietary supplements are not well regulated. You should do your research before purchasing any. Be sure to read all labels and look for supplements that have high amounts of beta-sitosterol.
Though these are not listed as beta-sitosterols, they are all plants that contain this power phytosterol.
Uses for Beta-sitosterols
You may be surprised to find that these phytosterols are used for many different conditions besides BPH.
Some other uses of beta-sitosterols include:
- improving prostate performance.
- treating autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, lupus erythematosus, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
- may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by lowering LDL cholesterol in the blood
- relieve pain in marathon runners and those with rheumatoid arthritis.
- menstrual disorders.
Beta-sitosterols lower cholesterol because they are so similar to the human ‘body’s cholesterol.
When you consume these phytosterols, they compete with the cholesterol in your body to be absorbed by your digestive system.
As a result, your body absorbs the plant sterols instead of your cholesterol!
This lowers the amount of cholesterol found in your blood, including what is known as bad cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein, or LDL.
This is important because having low amounts of LDL is essential for your long-term health.
When too much LDL builds up in your arteries, they can harden, which leads to heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. Some margarine brands even add beta-sitosterol as an ingredient to help fight high cholesterol!
How safe are Beta-sitosterols?
Let’s learn more about how safe they are and if they are effective. After all, if you are going to be consuming these powerful plant sterols in large quantities, you want to be sure that they are not harmful!
Beta-sitosterols are very safe to take. The FDA has approved of taking plant sterol esters for the reduction of heart disease.
You can get beta-sitosterols from many different foods. You should, however, talk to your doctor about how high of a dosage of beta-sitosterols you should take if you choose to supplement.
Phytosterols have been clinically proven to significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and improve symptoms of BPH.
Studies have shown that men who use beta-sitosterols were able to substantially improve their flow of urine and reduce the amount left in their bladder.
These tests took place over six months. Researchers followed up with the men who took beta-sitosterol during these six months and found that they were still experiencing a reduction in symptoms after 18 months.
Studies have also shown that these types of improvements in both bladder emptying and urine output are as good as those of prescription medications.
How soon will you know that the Beta-sitosterol supplements are working?
Beta-sitosterol does not begin working immediately.
You will need to take your dietary supplements for at least four weeks before you start to see improvements in your BPH symptoms.
Taking dietary supplements for BPH should help alleviate symptoms like urinary flow problems and emptying your bladder.
Clinical trials have shown that beta-sitosterols do not cause any detrimental long-term effects on men who use them.
However, you may experience side effects with your digestion, including constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, gas, and nausea.
Taking supplements of beta-sitosterol is a safe and healthy way to combat the symptoms of BPH.
However, if you are already on medication for cholesterol or take other supplements, be sure to check with your doctor before you begin taking beta-sitosterol.
While this natural, plant sterol is very safe, it can have harmful interactions with other medications.
Some men had reported that it took up to 26 weeks before improvements were seen. However, they were able to find relief from benign prostatic hyperplasia and the long-term effects of these sterols and stanols were worth it.
What are the best Beta-sitosterol supplements?
If your enlarged prostate is causing you trouble with urinating, then you do not have to suffer.
Trying a dietary supplement is a great way to relieve symptoms naturally. Always check with a doctor before you start a supplement as they may interfere with other medications you are taking.
Dietary supplements that claim to help prostates abound. When looking at ingredients, try to find ones that have a high amount of beta-sitosterol.
Some dietary supplements may contain other ingredients that are good for prostate health. These ingredients include vitamins like selenium and vitamin D.
Pumpkin seed, zinc, lycopene, boron, quercetin, and curcumin also have properties that provide prostate support. Many of these ingredients contain sterols, flavonoids, and phytosterols that boost prostate health.
Supplements with these ingredients work together to decrease inflammation that causes BPH.
They also are potent antioxidants that work to undo the damage caused by free radicals. No matter how healthy a lifestyle you live, you cannot escape free radical damage and consuming antioxidants is a must for healing your prostate.
What to look for
We recommend using Total Health because it contains 23 ingredients that support your prostate health, including the powerful phytosterol we have been learning about, beta-sitosterol.
For Beta-Sitosterol to be effective, it needs to be a ration of 90% plant sterols to 10% fatty acids. Without these fatty acids, these plant nutrients become unstable and useless.
The problem is that Beta-Sitosterol compounds are expensive, much more expensive than the fatty acids. As a result, there are many products on the market that are upwards of 70% fatty acids, with less than 30% Beta-Sitosterol. Always check the label to see if the product discloses the ratio on the label.
Once you have the all-clear from your doctor, then do your research on which supplements you want to take.
Many prostate supplements have lots of ingredients that can boost your prostate’s health.