A prostate supplement is named as such because you take it to supplement the diet.
Yes, there are foods (such as tomatoes and pumpkin seeds, to name a few) that benefit the prostate. Although there is something to be said for the medicinal health effects of whole foods, it is difficult to get a specific, standardized dose from them.
This is where supplements really come in handy. Prostate supplements contain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are beneficial to the prostate gland.
Typically, it will include vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E. A prostate supplement will usually include minerals as well, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, and iodine.
A good prostate supplement will also include nutrients like beta-sitosterol and quercetin.
Most commonly, you will see prostate supplements in a capsule or tablet form. The goal of a prostate supplement is to improve the health of the prostate.
So, what is the prostate exactly? It is a gland found in males. It sits under the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the prostate, so the prostate kind of envelops the urethra. This is why urinary symptoms occur when there is a problem with the prostate.
The prostate gland has a right and left lobe with a cleft running between them. This cleft is called the median sulcus.
In a healthy prostate, each lobe is symmetrical and does not have nodules. The prostate gland should also be freely mobile. In fact, if the prostate gland is fixed to the pelvis, then this could indicate cancer malignancy.
A typical prostate weighs between 15 and 18 grams and is approximately the size of a walnut. The prostate gland has three zones: the peripheral zone, the central zone, and the transition zone.
The prostate is made up of 70% glandular tissue, and the remaining 30% is fibromuscular stroma. Although we call the prostate gland, it is actually made up of about 20 smaller glands. There are also nerves that supply the prostate gland.
So why do men have a prostate gland in the first place? The prostate gland’s functional role is to create seminal fluid.
Seminal fluid is important because it helps to protect the sperm (due to its high pH). This fluid also contains what are called proteolytic enzymes, protein, zinc, and prostate-specific antigen (PSA for short). There will be lots of discussion about PSA in this article.
Prostate health problems
An enlarged prostate (BPH)
Which conditions would men use a prostate supplement for? The main one is what’s called BPH, which stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a disease that involves the proliferation of the prostate cells. This is essentially a medical way of saying that you have an enlarged prostate.
Overgrowth of the prostate cells affects parts of both the glandular tissue as well as the connective tissue that make up the prostate gland. When a man has Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, there is a problem with what is called apoptosis of the inner transition cells of the prostate.
Apoptosis is a term that basically means cell suicide. Apoptosis is when the cell reaches the end of its life and dies. This is all part of a normal, healthy, controlled process.
When apoptosis doesn’t occur, cell growth can go overboard, and that’s precisely what is happening in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Conventional medical treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is usually a drug called an alpha1-adrenoceptor antagonist, or an alpha-blocker. An alpha-blocker works by quickly opening the urethra.
Unfortunately, this medication comes with many health risks and potential adverse effects, including the inability to ejaculate and retrograde ejaculation.
Retrograde ejaculation is a term for what happens when ejaculate enters the bladder rather than exiting through the penis during ejaculation. This can clearly lead to problems with fertility.
Alpha-blockers open the urethra so quickly because they drop blood pressure very rapidly. That being said, alpha-blockers can also interact with blood pressure medications that you may be taking.
This drug can also lead to something called intraoperative floppy iris syndrome. This is when the muscles of the iris in the eye start to deteriorate. Yes, you heard that correctly – your iris has muscles! If they start to atrophy, then this can lead to difficulty with vision.
Another conventional medical treatment is 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors (the common name is finasteride), which work by decreasing the size of the prostate. There was a study done with 18,000 subjects over a period of seven years.
These subjects were given 5 mg of finasteride per day. The results demonstrated that prostate-specific antigen was significantly reduced.
That’s a good thing; however, the researchers also found that there were more high-grade tumors in these subjects. However, it should be noted that Finasteride can have debilitating effects, both mentally and physically.
A different way of treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is with Transurethral Resection of the Prostate.
In this procedure, a scope is inserted through the urethra into the prostate gland, where any extra prostate tissue is cut away. Along with this surgery come a set of risks, however.
There is a 13% risk of developing erectile dysfunction after the surgery. 4% of patients require transfusion. 7% of TURP patients develop a urinary tract infection. 5% of patients develop stricture. Moreover, a whopping 50% of patients who receive this surgery have retrograde ejaculation.
Another option is what is called Transurethral Microwave Thermotherapy. Similar to Transurethral Resection of the Prostate, Transurethral Microwave Thermotherapy goes through the urethra.
However, in TUMT, the excess prostate tissue is being killed with a microwave antenna. It takes between three and six months for the dead tissue to slough off and this procedure to fully take effect. It also involves the risk of necrosis (tissue death) to the urethra and the neck of the bladder.
Finally, another treatment option is Transurethral needle ablation, where microwave needles are placed into the nodules of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Along with this procedure comes the risk of urine retention, which is the inability to void the bladder completely. There is also a 33% risk of retrograde ejaculation, a common problem with treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Generally, the goal of a prostate supplement is to decrease symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or an enlarged prostate gland. These include:
- frequent urination
- urinary urgency
- difficulty or hesitancy initiating urination
- a weak urine stream
- an inability to urinate
- a urinary stream that starts and stops
- dribbling at the end of urination
- incomplete voiding of the bladder
- urinary tract infections
- blood in the urine
- and nocturia (also known as need to urinate at night).
It is important to note that the size of your prostate does not necessarily determine how severe your symptoms will be.
Some men with a mild case of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia can have severe symptoms, while men with extremely enlarged prostates may have minor symptoms affecting them. Symptoms can stabilize and even potentially improve and regress over time.
Men who have Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia will want to take action right away, as you will want to avoid any potential complications.
One possible complication of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is the sudden inability to urinate. This is a severe symptom. If this occurs, you may require a catheter to be inserted into the bladder to fully and adequately drain the urine. Some men even need surgery for this problem.
Another potential complication of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is a urinary tract infection.
Since men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia are often unable to empty their bladders fully, this can increase the risk of infection of the urinary tract. If urinary tract infections become a recurring or chronic problem, then surgery might be required in order to remove part of the prostate.
The inability to fully empty the bladder really does take its toll. This can lead to stretching and weakening of the bladder wall. This means that the muscles inside the bladder can no longer contract properly to empty the bladder.
This makes it even more difficult to fully empty the bladder, leading to a vicious cycle of inability to empty the bladder and more bladder damage that leads to even more difficulty emptying the bladder.
The inability to empty the bladder also increases the risk of developing bladder stones. These are similar to kidney stones, which you have more likely heard of.
Bladder stones then lead to a whole host of other problems, including infection, bladder irritation, blood in the urine (called hematuria in the medical world), and obstruction of proper urine flow.
Pressure in the bladder from holding onto urine can even damage the kidneys. Bladder infections can also reach up to the kidneys. Once the kidneys have been affected, this has become a very serious problem.
The kidneys are vital organs, and any damage to them can pose a serious health threat. If you are suddenly unable to urinate, this could have serious health consequences, and it’s important to seek care immediately.
Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
Another male health issue that affects the prostate is Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome.
The most commonly reported symptom in men with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome is dysuria or pain upon urination. 46.6% (almost half) of patients report this symptom. 34.4% of patients with this condition report pain in the perineum, which is the area between the penis and the anus — 39.2 % of men with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome report they need to urinate more frequently. And 39.2% of men with this condition have what is called suprapubic pain.
This is a pain just above the pubic bone on the front of the pelvis. The etiology of Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome is still a bit of a mystery, though prostate inflammation has been found in 33% of cases.
Oxidative stress is also thought to play a role, and there is also a theory that stones in the prostate could contribute to this condition overall. Interestingly, it has been found that psychological stress and depression increase pain in those with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome.
Have prostate supplements been proven effective?
Yes! There are many, many examples of prostate supplements being proven effective in the literature.
Prevention of prostate cancer is very topical in this day and age, due to the increased prevalence of the disease, as well as the level of toxicity of current treatment options.
Preventing a disease is always superior to treating disease, especially in the case of a complex disease such as prostate cancer. A large body of research can be found on both in vitro (in a laboratory) and in vivo (in the live subject) of preventative prostate cancer measures.
Some of these strategies include consumption of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vegetable extracts and other solid products and combinations of these in the diet, vitamins, minerals, and biologically active substances.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study in men with prostate cancer was performed. This is a fairly reliable type of study, since it was randomized, blinded, and a placebo group was used. This study used a dietary supplement to examine levels of prostate-specific antigen.
Past studies that have been conducted showed significant relationships between dietary supplementation and the incidence and mortality of prostate cancer. 49 patients participated in the study.
They all had a history of prostate cancer and had rising prostate-specific antigen levels after radical prostate removal or radiation therapy. The supplement used in this experiment consisted of lycopene and other antioxidants as the main ingredients.
The researchers found that the slowly rising prostate- specific antigen levels that the participants came in with ended up being delayed after taking a dietary supplement.
Saw palmetto is a commonly used herb in the field of natural prostate health. One study reviewed the current research on the efficacy of saw palmetto specifically for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
They looked at it as a monotherapy (on its own) as well as in combination with other therapies. Their research was primarily based on a Cochrane review, which is sort of a “gold standard” in the medical research world, as they have lots of valid and reliable research in their library.
The study concluded that using saw palmetto in conjunction with lycopene, selenium, and stinging nettle had positive results.
Patients generally had a favorable response to treatment and a positive clinical experience overall. The study concluded that there are several early positive studies that are promising in the use of saw palmetto, especially now that we know more about its effects in the body.
It is also good to know that it does have potential synergistic effects when combined with other natural supplements and therapies.
As we have mentioned here several times, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is becoming increasingly common.
Typical treatment would normally include the use of a1-adrenergic receptor antagonists and 5a-reductase inhibitors. These drugs have indeed been found to be useful for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
However, the side effects associated with their use are leading patients and practitioners alike to turn elsewhere for solutions. Surgery is relatively common in the management of prostate health as well. This is invasive, costly, and risky as well, and therefore, it cannot be used as a routine treatment method.
So how about dietary polyphenols? They help to ward off against free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can lead to inflammation and even cancer. They prevent lots of different diseases.
A literature review looked at the role of polyphenols in the management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. It also looked at how polyphenols actually work (their mechanism of action).
A literature search was carried out that involved looking into electronic databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, Medline, Agora, and Hinari.
They looked at studies from 1970 all the way up until 2017 in order to identify what the current status was on this whole idea of polyphenols and prostate disease. They ended up concluding that polyphenols do indeed hold promise as a treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Curcubita pepo is a natural supplement that has been studied for its therapeutic effect on lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Phytotherapeutic compounds like Cucurbita pepo have low side effect profiles, relatively lower costs, and a low rate of study dropout. This is because treatments like this are often well tolerated by patients.
The article at hand analyzed all available evidence on the role of Cucurbita pepo in lower urinary tract symptoms resulting from Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
They scoured multiple databases, including the National Library of Medicine PubMed, Scopus, and the ISI web of knowledge official website.
In total, 16 studies were analyzed. Of these 16, ten demonstrated an anti-inflammatory and anti-androgen effect of Cucurbita pepo as well as a reduction in the growth of the prostate.
In all 16 of the studies that were analyzed, there was an improvement in uroflowmetry parameters as well as the International Prostate Symptom Score.
In four of the studies looked at, an improvement in the quality of life was reported. All in all, the study concluded that Cucurbita pepo is useful for improving symptoms and quality of life in those with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Here is yet another piece of evidence supporting the use of supplements in prostate disease: a study fed lycopene to mice with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. These mice experienced drastic reductions in the prostatic index of symptoms. This shows that lycopene, a natural supplement, can have a protective effect and help to prevent Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia from worsening.
An interesting study was performed comparing a herbal supplement with a pharmaceutical drug.
Both were designed for the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. 100 patients participated in the study. 50 of them received the herbal capsule, whereas the other 50 received Terazosin HCl.
Patients were then evaluated using the American Urological Association Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Score Index Questionnaire to measure their quality of life.
Patients were also told to record whenever they felt they had an incomplete emptying of the bladder, urinary frequency, intermittency (starting and stopping of urine flow), urinary urgency, a weak urinary stream, straining in order to initiate urine, nocturia (waking up at night to urinate), and weight of the prostate gland.
The study found that the herbal capsule is more effective in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia than the conventional pharmaceutical Terazosin HCl.
How can you keep your prostate healthy?
It has actually been said that one way of keeping your prostate healthy is by having an orgasm once every three days.
This is helpful in that it helps to flush out bacteria. In those with a prostate infection, an inflamed prostate, or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, orgasm can provide pain relief for hours or even days.
The number one cause of chronic bacterial prostate infections is unprotected anal sex.
If you are partaking in anal intercourse, it is extremely important that your partner uses a barrier method, such as a condom to prevent chronic inflammation and infection of the prostate.
Risk factors for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome include vasectomy, alcohol intake, and severe stress.
If you suffer from Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome, a vasectomy may not be a great option for you, and you may want to consider other forms of contraception.
Keeping alcohol intake to a minimum and using stress management tools will help avoid Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome as well.
There is a potential for your prostate-specific antigen to spike if you are a cyclist. It has been said that if you ride with the bike saddle too close to your prostate, this can lead to inflammation of the prostate and higher PSA levels.
For the general health of the prostate, it can be helpful to cut back on your caffeine intake. It’s also important to exercise regularly; otherwise, you are putting yourself at higher risk for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Research has shown that stress and hostility can negatively affect the prostate, so if you are exposed to high levels of stress, it is important that you find some stress management techniques that work for you.
A study found that certain foods increased and decreased participants’ risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Foods that were found to increase the risk of an enlarged prostate include cereal, bread, poultry, eggs, butter, and margarine.
Foods that were determined to lower the risk of prostate disease include soup, pulses, cooked vegetables, citrus, and having a high ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and can be found in fish (especially salmon, anchovies, mackerel, sardines, and herring).
Omega-6 fatty acids are not necessarily harmful to you but need to be balanced out with omega-3 fatty acids; otherwise, this can actually lead to inflammation.
Another way you can help keep your prostate healthy is by not smoking. A study found that subjects who currently (at the time of the study) smoked more than 35 cigarettes per day had increased risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
You can also ensure the good health of your prostate by getting all the micronutrients it needs in your diet.
A study showed that low serum (blood) levels of vitamin E, lycopene, and selenium were correlated with increased risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Another study found that a diet that is generally low in fat and high in fiber lowers your risk of prostate disease and decreases the growth rate of localized prostate cancer.
What are the most effective prostate supplements?
Some of the most effective prostate supplements contain quercetin, which is a bioflavonoid. Another effective ingredient is rye or Secale cornutum. The rye extract called cernitin is the active ingredient that has a positive effect on the prostate gland.
One of the most well-known prostate supplements is Serenoa repens, commonly known as saw palmetto.
Although lesser-known, another effective supplement ingredient is Epilobium parviflorum. Selenium is a micronutrient that is essential for proper prostate health.
Lycopene is a compound found in tomatoes that is greatly helpful for the prostate gland’s health. A supplement called Pygeum africanum has also proven useful in improving the performance of the prostate.
Beta-sitosterol is a nutrient that is in many prostate supplement products, and for good reason: it is effective in helping to decrease the size of the prostate in those with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Urtica dioica, commonly known as stinging nettle, is an effective herb that can improve prostate health as well. Finally, Cucurbita pepo and its extracts are proven to be useful in prostate supplements too.
What are the benefits of prostate supplements?
The general idea of a prostate supplement is to – you guessed it – benefit the prostate. But there are specific benefits that different supplements can have. Cucurbita pepo, for example, was found to decrease urinary symptoms in 41.4% of study subjects.
Pygeum africanum was found to decrease nocturia (nighttime waking to urinate) by 19%. This herb also reduced the residual urine volume (urine left over in the bladder after urination) by 24%. It also increased the peak urine flow by 23%.
Quercetin was found to reduce the expression of two different genes, called hnRNPA1 and AR-V7. By suppressing AR-V7, quercetin was able to help res-sensitize otherwise resistant prostate cancer cells to treatment with chemotherapy.
Quercetin also has the added benefit of antagonizing androgen receptor signaling. This may be important in overcoming the resistance to androgen therapy in prostate cancer treatment.
Prostate cancer depends upon androgen receptor signaling, so once quercetin turns it off, it gives the prostate cancer less power.
Multiple studies show that splicing factors like hnRNPA1 and AR-V7 contribute to chemotherapy resistance in prostate cancer cells.
We absolutely do not want chemotherapy resistance, as this requires higher doses of chemotherapy drugs, more of the already intense side effects, and less of an effect. This is why the hnRNPA1 and AR-V7 expression reduction action that quercetin has is so very crucial.
One study looked at the effects of cernitin pollen extract on serum levels of prostate specific antigen. This study was looking specifically at prostate biopsy candidates.
The goal of the study was to develop an ideal protocol in order to avoid unnecessary biopsies since they are fairly invasive and painful procedures. In the study at hand, 61 patients were given cernitin for one month before a prostate biopsy was administered.
Researchers examined prostate-specific antigen levels in the serum both before and after the patients were given the cernitin extract.
The change in serum prostate-specific antigen levels as well as the rate of change were analyzed in relation to both negative and positive biopsy results for cancer. The study concluded that their ideal protocol would include the use of cernitin pollen extract in order to help prevent an unnecessary prostate biopsy procedure in patients with elevated prostate-specific antigen levels.
Saw palmetto is one supplement that has a fairly wide variety of benefits for the prostate gland. It has been proven to be useful in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
It has also been shown to be helpful in lower urinary tract symptoms. Recent studies also show that saw palmetto has some therapeutic effects on chronic prostatitis, prostate cancer, sexual dysfunction, and more. It is even used for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome.
When it comes to Epilobium parviflorum, its extracts have traditionally been used in the treatment of the prostate gland and its various ailments. One study, in particular, was able to provide scientific evidence to back up the traditional use of this herb. The research found that Epilobium parviflorum extract is a potent prostate cancer cell proliferation inhibitor.
The extract in this study was able to reduce prostate specific antigen from 325.6 ng/mL down to 90 ng/mL!
It was also able to inhibit arginase (a prostate cancer-related enzyme) from 65.2 mUnits of urea per mg of protein to just 40 mUnits of urea per mg of protein. The study concluded that this herb could and should be used in the treatment of prostate diseases.
Some observational studies have proven that higher levels of selenium in the blood are correlated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis, which is a very in-depth and reliable form of research that looks at several different studies on a topic.
This meta-analysis, in particular, looked at various literature databases, including PubMed, Embase, Medline, and the revered Cochrane Library.
In all, 17 different studies were investigated to see if there was any association between serum selenium levels and prostate cancer risk. What they found was an inverse association: meaning low selenium levels meant higher prostate cancer risk, and high selenium levels meant lower prostate cancer risk.
This benefit of selenium supplementation was statistically significant in smokers, people who used to smoke, high-grade cancer cases, and advanced cancer cases.
The benefits of lycopene appear to be due to its antioxidant activity. Lycopene is touted as a preventive agent for prostate problems in general.
Beta sitosterol’s benefits are numerous. It has been shown to improve Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia overall. It also has anti-cancer properties, specifically against prostate cancer. This is because beta sitosterol interferes with several different cell signaling pathways.
These include the cell cycle pathway, apoptosis (programmed cell death), proliferation (cell growth), survival, invasion, angiogenesis (growth of tumor blood supply), metastasis (spreading of cancer to tissue outside of the prostate), and inflammation.
Beta-sitosterol affects these pathways in ways that help slow and prevent tumor growth. The bonus with beta-sitosterol is that it is generally considered to be non-toxic, which is basically the opposite of all chemotherapy treatments, which are notorious for their toxicity on the human body. Overall, beta-sitosterol is a potent anti-cancer nutraceutical supplement that is also relatively safe.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
Urtica dioica, also known as stinging nettle, provides symptomatic relief of lower urinary tract symptoms that come along with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. One six-month study was double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, and a partial crossover.
This means that the researchers did their due diligence in order to rule out as many errors that could possibly occur along the way in the study. This makes the study very reliable. This is good, considering how effective the results were.
620 patients participated in the study. Patients were evaluated using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). Their Qmax was also evaluated, which is a measure of the maximum urinary flow rate.
Also analyzed were the post-void residual urine volume, serum prostate specific antigen, testosterone levels, and prostate size. 81% of patients in the treatment group reported improved lower urinary tract symptoms compared with 16% in the placebo group. The International Prostate Symptom Score went from 19.8 down to 11.8 in the treatment group.
The placebo group only went from 19.2 to 17.7. Peak flow rates also improved in the treatment group, by 8.2 mL per second.
In the placebo group, however, the peak flow rate only increased by 3.4 mL per second. Postresidual volume also improved in the treatment group, from 73 down to 36 mL. The placebo group experienced no change at all in their postresidual volume. There was also a modest decrease in prostate size, as measured by transrectal UltraSound.
The change was from 40.1 cc to 36.3 cc. There were no changes observed in the placebo group. At 18-month follow-up, the researchers discovered that only the patients who continued to take the stinging nettle supplement had good results.
There were no side effects to report in any of these studies. Overall, the meta-analysis concluded that stinging nettle as a supplement has beneficial effects in the treatment of symptomatic Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
What are the risks associated with prostate supplements?
Even if a supplement is completely natural, that doesn’t mean that it necessarily comes without risk.
Natural supplements and vitamins can still have risks and adverse effects, so it’s important to be aware of these and keep an eye out for them once you are taking a prostate supplement.
Any adverse effects of quercetin are rare and mild. It is difficult to find adequate published scientific data for long-term use of more than 12 weeks of quercetin doses.
Although human studies are always preferred when we are talking about human health, of course, some animal studies are looking at the potential risks of oral quercetin use.
An animal study found that quercetin supplementation can potentially enhance kidney toxicity effects on a kidney that has already sustained damage previously.
The study also found that quercetin supplementation could promote tumor development in estrogen-dependent cancers. Both human and animal studies have found that single dose or short-term (less than 12 weeks) supplementation of quercetin can lead to interactions between quercetin and certain drugs.
This interaction can lead to either increased or decreased bioavailability of the drug. When bioavailability of a drug is decreased, this means it may not be quite as effective. When bioavailability of a drug is increased, this means that it could potentially have more intense side effects.
Cernitin, the rye extract, only has mild and rare side effects. In one study, only 4.8% of subjects taking cernitin backed out of the study, while 5.2% of subjects given the drug Paraprost backed out. This generally means that cernitin was better tolerated than traditional pharmaceutical medication likely had more unpleasant side effects.
Any adverse events of Serenoa repens (saw palmetto) were few and far between. In fact, any incidences of adverse effects were not statistically significantly different from placebo. Approximately 10% of the subjects in this study withdrew, but this was also the case with placebo, so this means the supplement was fairly well-tolerated.
When it comes to Epilobium parviflorum, further clinical evidence is needed to determine what potential adverse effects there are (if any) and how frequently one might expect these to occur.
Selenium doesn’t appear to have many adverse effects, though there is a potential risk for selenium toxicity. In order to avoid this, follow the directions on labels and/or from your health care provider to ensure you are taking the proper dose. As long as you follow these directives, toxicity shouldn’t be a problem for you.
Based on what we know in nutritional science from toxicology reports, lycopene does not produce any adverse effects at intake levels up to 3 kg per day. This goes for both dietary lycopene (from cooked tomatoes) and formulated lycopene (in supplements).
Formulated lycopene usually has antioxidants added to it in order to prevent oxidation of the lycopene itself. This is a common form in which lycopene-containing supplements are marketed.
There isn’t really any data showing adverse effects of lycopene in humans or even animals. Because of this, the Institute of Medicine (or IOM for short) has not set what’s called a tolerable upper intake level for lycopene.
A tolerable upper intake level just means the maximum amount of lycopene that you would want to be taking before negative consequences can begin to occur. Synthetic lycopene, tomato lycopene extracts, and crystallized lycopene extract have all been deemed generally safe as a food additive ingredient.
Studies performed on Pygeum africanum found no adverse effects related to its use. In fact, researchers found that this supplement’s safety profile was “very satisfactory”. It also gave an overall result of a significant improvement in the quality of life, so it seems to be good all around.
Research on the nutrient beta-sitosterol found that not only does it help with the prevention and treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia as well as other lower urinary tract symptoms, but it also positively affects other systemic parameters. The good news for beta-sitosterol continues: there are almost no adverse effects related to its use as a supplement!
Although Urtica dioica’s common name of stinging nettle might lead you to believe otherwise, this supplement is not actually associated with any significant adverse effects at all.
Stinging nettle is named so because the fresh nettle plant causes stings, but if you are taking this in supplement form then you have no reason to worry about that.
Any adverse events related to Cucurbita pepo were said to be mild and infrequent. Overall, this supplement is well tolerated.
What is the best natural remedy for an enlarged prostate?
The best natural remedy for an enlarged prostate is one that contains various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including beta-sitosterol, quercetin, and vitamin D.
A course of quercetin treatment in rats with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia led to reduced proliferative activity in the glandular structures of the prostate gland. It was also able to appease the inflammatory reaction of the tissue.
When it comes to vitamin D, there does appear to be a correlation between vitamin D status and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Male patients who see urologists tend to have lower levels of vitamin D.
Data has also shown that vitamin D has a blocking effect on the RhoA/ROCK pathway, as well as the expression of COX 2 and the production of prostaglandin E2 in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia stromal cells.
What do all these letters and numbers mean? They are basically related to inflammation. Increasing vitamin D intake, whether it’s through the diet or supplements, has been shown to correlate with a decrease in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Doses of up to 6000 IU per day of vitamin D have shown to decrease the volume of the prostate in patients with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Studies have also shown that vitamin D can help reduce cell proliferation and overgrowth. Among all the many studies on vitamin D and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, none have shown any side effects or adverse effects with increased vitamin D intake.
Beta-sitosterol has been found to improve urinary symptom scores and flow measures in men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Symptoms were scored on the International Prostate Symptom Score scale, and score average dropped by 4.9 points after taking the beta-sitosterol. The mean difference in residual urinary volume dropped by a whopping 28.62 mL after supplementation with beta-sitosterol.
Overall, it appears that beta-sitosterol improves urinary symptoms as well as flow measures, two major components of an enlarged prostate.
How do you know what prostate supplement you need?
If you find you are straining to urinate, unable to fully empty your bladder, and urinating several times throughout the day, then it is probably time for you to try a prostate supplement.
If you need to wake up several times each and every night to urinate, then this also indicates that a prostate supplement may be right for you.
Many men think that these symptoms are simply a normal part of aging, but that is just not the case. You really need to ask yourself how much the symptoms of an enlarged prostate are affecting your quality of life.
Do keep in mind that if Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is left untreated, this could lead to: acute inability to urinate, chronic inability to urinate, bladder stones, hematuria (blood in the urine), urinary tract infections, bladder damage, and kidney damage.
So how do you know which specific prostate supplement is right for you? First, you’ll want to take a look at the label and read the ingredients.
You want a supplement that contains the highest quality ingredients, and in their most bioavailable (absorbable) form. You’ll also want ingredients that are at a therapeutic dose.
A therapeutic dose is the amount of the ingredient that you will need in order to have a clinical effect, as proven by scientific studies.
It’s also important that the prostate supplement you take contains natural nutrients. You do not want it to have any synthetic ingredients or genetically-modified organisms.
You will want the supplement to have chelating minerals, as these have higher bioavailability and are better absorbed and used by our bodies.
If you ever see an ingredient labeled as a “proprietary blend”, this is a sneaky way that supplement companies have of hiding ingredients. This is not good. You don’t know what’s in there and therefore don’t know exactly what you’re putting into your body. That’s never a good thing.
Whatever you end up taking, you’ll definitely want it to have lab results demonstrating the effectiveness of the product. It’s also always good to see independent research endorsements from actual doctors.
You’ll want to read some customer reviews as well, to see how men in the real world are reacting to this prostate supplement. You want to see genuine customer reviews. Paid endorsements, fake reviews, and dodgy marketing tricks are not what you want in a prostate supplement!
A company with strict quality controls and US-based lab testing is always a bonus as well. They will often inform you that they do this on their website, if not on the supplement bottle itself. One way you can ease your mind is if the prostate supplement you are purchasing has an iron clad money back guarantee.
This way, you know that the company has confidence that their product will work for you. You also know that it’s not a gimmick and that if for some reason their product does not work for you, you can simply get your money back.
It’s also great when a company has well-trained and knowledgeable customer support staff who actually know what they are talking about and can help you.
You want clear and concise information and a company whose employees will be able to answer any important questions you might have. If a company has a serious lack of customer support, or no money back guarantee, that is not usually a very good sign. Be wary!
What should you look for in a prostate supplement?
A prostate supplement should have a broad spectrum of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. You want to make sure there is a clinically significant dose of the key ingredients. You also want high-quality ingredients.
For example, beta-sitosterol is a highly common ingredient. If you look at the label on your prostate supplement, chances are that beta sitosterol is there. But just it being in there isn’t enough.
You want to make sure that there is a high ratio of active plant sterols and fatty acids. You definitely want to be putting natural ingredients into your body. After all, that is likely one of the reasons you turned to a supplement (rather than a pharmaceutical drug) in the first place.
But guess what? An ingredient, even in its ideal dose, is useless if it isn’t in the right form! You want a highly bioavailable form of each supplement ingredient.
This way, your body will actually absorb what you are putting into it. Not only are you getting more benefit from a highly bioavailable product, but you are actually getting more bang for your buck. You will need less of the product to have more of a therapeutic effect.
When you are shopping around for prostate supplements, you’ll want to make sure you get a product that contains ingredients that have been scientifically proven to have clear benefits specifically for prostate health.
Transparency is important. You want to know what you are getting when you spend your hard-earned money on a prostate supplement.
This is why you want to get your product from a company that provides clear information about their laboratory testing. You also want a supplement from a company that complies with government groups, such as the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA).
You want to see that they clearly list their ingredients. As much as you want transparency when it comes to laboratory testing, it is equally important to have transparency in labeling.
Have a look at customer ratings. You want to make sure you get a product that is highly rated. It is always nice to see when a company uses third-party software to make sure that reviews only come from actual customers. You also want to obtain a prostate supplement from a company that provides excellent customer service and has a money back guarantee.
Compliance, compliance, compliance. This is how a supplement company ensures quality. You will want to keep an eye out for supplements that are manufactured within the United States.
If the company uses Food and Drug Administration-audited facilities for their manufacture, then that is even better.
How are prostate supplements tested for effectiveness?
You will want to see scientific, evidence-based research conducted on these supplements. Ideally, this research will show therapeutic benefit and minimal adverse effects. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are what you’ll want to see.
For your own information when you are making a decision as to which prostate supplement to get, you will want to see independent research endorsements from real doctors.
You’ll also want to see some genuine customer reviews. You will also want to see that the supplement is lab tested within the United States. It is always good to see a company that has strict quality controls.
Paid endorsements, fake reviews, and dodgy marketing tactics are not what you want here. Look at the percentage or star rating that a certain supplement has on Amazon, as well as on the product’s own company store. You want these ratings to be similar, as this reassures you that the reviews are less likely to be fake and are from genuine paying customers.
One of the best tests for a prostate supplement is to see what customers are actually saying about it.
Check to see what people are saying specifically about night time waking’s, how many trips they are needing to take to the bathroom, urinary urgency, the size of the prostate, and prostate-specific antigen levels. These are all parameters that judge how effective a prostate supplement really is.
Studies that perform laboratory tests on prostate supplements should look at a few different parameters to see how effective the supplement is.
One is prostate volume or the size of the prostate. Another is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia cell proliferation. This measures how much the diseased, out of control cells are growing and multiplying.
There is also a scale that study participants often use when looking at the effectiveness of a prostate supplement. This is called the International Prostate Symptom Score.
Another measure you will want to look at is the degree of urinary obstruction. You will also want to know how effective the supplement is at improving urinary flow.
When it comes to prostate supplements, you definitely want to know how effective they are. But don’t forget about adverse effects! You will want to see if there is any risk to what you are planning on taking.
When you read reviews or if you look at studies, see if there is any risk of taking this supplement. If studies were performed, how many participants dropped out? A low withdrawal rate is usually a good sign. You do want a supplement that is well tolerated, after all.
Look at what symptoms were improved when study participants took the prostate supplement. Did it improve inflammation?
Look into how the supplement improved (if it did at all) the following symptoms: prostate inflammation, urinary burning (dysuria, in medical terms), increased urination frequency, urgency, nocturia (waking up to urinate during the night), weak urine stream, incomplete voiding (sensation of not fully emptying the bladder), intermittency (stopping and starting over again when urinating), and straining to urinate.
Overall, studies that test prostate supplements should be clinically proven to improve the quality of life. That is the end goal, after all.
It is usually a good sign if the supplement is clinically proven to reduce the serum (blood) level of prostate-specific antigen as well.
Another reliable measure that studies tend to use is the American Urological Association Symptom Index. If a supplement has been clinically proven to improve this index score, then that is a very good sign. It’s also helpful when a study mentions “proliferative activity in glandular structures”.
When a supplement helps to improve this parameter, it helps to work against the progression of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. It’s also helpful to see what the supplement’s impact is on inflammation in the tissue.
One of the best measurements that you’ll want to look at when considering a prostate supplement is urodynamic measurements.
This is actually a term for a group of measurements that comprises of: peak and mean urine flow, residual volume, and prostate size. There is also a value called Qmax, which is the maximum urinary flow rate.
Aside from Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, prostate cancer is another pathology of the prostate that you will want to prevent for optimal prostate health.
If a supplement has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, then that is important. Remember our discussion about apoptosis? That’s when a cell induces its own death, as a normal part of the cell cycle.
Cells that do not undergo apoptosis grow uncontrollably and that is a problem. If a study shows that a prostate supplement helps to induce apoptosis, that is something that can help with both Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and prostate cancer.
Similarly, if a prostate supplement has been shown to “arrest the cell cycle”, then that helps with overgrowth of unhealthy cells. Supplements that help to interfere with cell signaling pathways such as survival and invasion can be helpful for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and prostate cancer growth.
A supplement that helps to prevent metastasis (growth of prostate cancer that has spread to other tissues outside the prostate) can be very useful.
Another cancer-related parameter to look at is one called angiogenesis. This is the formation of arteries in order to supply a tumor with oxygen and nutrients it needs in order to grow. A supplement that helps to arrest angiogenesis would be helpful in fighting against prostate cancer.
Arginase is another enzyme whose levels we want kept nice and low. A prostate supplement that reduces the activity of arginase (as measured in mUnits of urea per mg of protein) can be useful in prostate cancer prevention and management.
Studies will often look at prostate size as an outcome value. This is usually measured by trans rectal UltraSound. A supplement that has been scientifically shown to help reduce prostate size is what you want to go for.
What research supports the effectiveness of prostate supplements?
There is a vast library of research out there to support the use of prostate supplements and their effectiveness.
One example is a study with pomegranate fruit extract in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. As we know, inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis (programmed cell death) all play a role in how Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia happens in the body.
Pomegranate contains many different polyphenolic compounds that have been studied in various diseases for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pro-apoptotic properties.
This study, in particular, looked at the effect of pomegranate fruit extract on Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia development in rats. They found that the most effective dose of pomegranate extract was 100 mg per kg of body weight. At this dose, the increase in prostate weight was prevented. The prostate weight: body weight ratio was decreased by 55%.
Cell changes were prevented, as well. COX-II expression (related to inflammation) was decreased, and the apoptotic index was increased.
This study concluded that pomegranate fruit extract is effective in preventing Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in rats, most likely due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pro-apoptotic properties.
A large systematic review and meta-analysis (analysis of analysis) were conducted looking at different trials related to saw palmetto. Researchers wanted to know the level of efficacy and safety that saw palmetto can provide in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms due to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
They looked at Medline, Scopus, and Web of Science databases and came up with 12 studies that they wanted to include in their analysis.
They discovered that saw palmetto extract was significantly more effective than placebo in reducing the number of nighttime trips to the bathroom and in increasing the maximum urinary flow rate. The rates of withdrawal and adverse events were similar between the group taking saw palmetto and the placebo group.
Importantly, saw palmetto extract was determined to be as effective as tamsulosin therapy and finasteride therapy in improving maximum flow rate as well as the International Prostate Symptom Score.
The safety profile of saw palmetto was extremely favorable. Its impact on ejaculatory dysfunction was just 0.5%, which is very low, especially when you compare it with the impact of tamsulosin on ejaculatory dysfunction, which was 4%. Saw palmetto had a 2.2% effect on libido, whereas the tamsulosin had a 3% effect. Impotence occurred in 1.5% of those on saw palmetto but in 2.8% of those taking tamsulosin.
Overall, this demonstrates that saw palmetto was more effective than placebo and had a better safety profile than tamsulosin. It was even more effective than tamsulosin and finasteride for certain parameters.
Who is likely to develop an enlarged prostate?
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is more common in the developed world. Globally, 6% of males have Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, so it is fairly common. Age does play a role in this condition. If a man is symptom-free at 46 years old, his risk is 45% over the next 30 years.
The prevalence of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in 45 to 49 year olds is 2%. In the 75 to 79 year old age group, the prevalence is 3.8%. Once a man hits the age of 80 years, the prevalence jumps up to 24%. There is a loss of parasympathetic function in old age, and this is thought to be why age plays such a vital role in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Some studies have claimed that hormones play a role in risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Excess estrogen may increase your likelihood of developing this disease. There is also some evidence to show that men who over consume caffeine may be at higher risk.
Those who do not exercise are certainly at greater risk of developing this condition as well. Men with lots of stress and hostility in their lives and without the proper coping mechanisms for this are at higher risk of developing Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Caucasian and African men are at higher risk than those of Asian descent. If a male has a family history of early onset Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, his risk is increased two to four fold.
A diet that is low in fat and high in fiber has been said to lower risk, as it decreases the growth of the abnormal prostate cells.
Other components of the diet that have been shown to reduce risk include soup, pulses, cooked vegetables, citrus, and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods that may increase risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia include cereal, bread, eggs, butter, poultry, and margarine.
Current smokers having more than 35 cigarettes per day are also at increased risk of developing this disease.
Men deficient in certain nutrients, particularly vitamin E, lycopene, and selenium, are at higher risk as well. Although a controversial topic in nutrition and medicine, in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, soy does appear to be helpful.
Soy contains a compound called genistein, which was found to be significantly lower in the prostates of those with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Some other conditions appear to be related to an increased risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. These include type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and syndrome X.
All three of these conditions have been scientifically proven to be correlated to faster growth rates in the transition zone of the prostate. One study, in particular, showed an increase of prostate volume growth from 0.84 to 1.49 mL per year
The truth is that prevention is way much better than cure, and supplements are a better option. They are natural therapies that are much safer and more effective.
Take alpha blockers for example. These drugs are often prescribed to treat the urinary symptoms of prostate diseases like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. Take note: they only help relieve the symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate.
Usually, they are prescribed with 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors that are supposed to shrink prostate tissue. But these drugs come with serious side effects.
Taking control of your health is important, and you can stay well naturally without the use of drugs. Along with the proper diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle, supplements can help you stay healthy. They’re safer, natural and overall much more effective.
Comparing prostate supplements
But with so many supplements out there, how do you go about choosing the one that will be effective for you?
As discussed, there are a number of factors that distinguish a good prostate supplement, such as being lab-tested, with strict quality controls, containing the highest quality ingredients, in their most bioavailable form in clinically significant doses and providing excellent customer support and a money back guarantee.