Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the most common urologic problems in the elderly. Management of BPH often includes medical treatment and lifestyle changes.
Sometimes, surgical procedures will be required for advanced cases. However, in the majority of patients, a combination of lifestyle changes and phytotherapeutic agents controls the symptoms.
Phytotherapy is a science-based medical field, and most drugs were initially isolated from plants.
Extracts of natural origin often work by preventing diseases. They also improve symptoms without adverse effects. In the case of benign prostatic hyperplasia, important medicinal plants include:
- Saw palmetto
- Pygenum africanum
- Stinging nettle
- Ryegrass pollen
- Other herbal remedies and natural extracts.
What does rye grass pollen extract has to offer in the treatment of BPH? Is it effective? Are there side effects? Let us answer all of those questions in the following sections of the article.
What is rye grass pollen extract?
It is a type of flower pollen extract. Ryegrass pollen extract is made from the pollen of a very famous herb called Secale cereale, or rye.
Pollen is obtained and let alone for a while. Microbial digestion of the pollen breaks down the components. Then, they are further extracted using organic solvents and water. After the extraction process is over, ryegrass pollen extract is full of sterols in a water-soluble solution (1).
There are many formulations of ryegrass pollen extract. Each one of them has slightly different preparation methods.
One of the most studied and widely applied is known as cernilton or cernitin pollen extract. Cernilton has 60 mg of ryegrass pollen on a water-soluble fraction. For each 60 mg, it has 3 mg of additional components in an acetone-soluble fraction.
Altogether, it contains 21 amino acids, various enzymes and coenzymes, and a high concentration of sterols. It also provides minerals, some trace elements, and all of the essential vitamins. In the acetone-soluble fraction, we also have alpha-linolenic acid and phytosterols (2).
What can it be used for?
Ryegrass pollen extract has many nutrients and phytonutrients. It has all of the vitamins we need, a whole bunch of minerals, and trace elements.
It has 21 amino acids and many antioxidant substances. Thus, it is beneficial as a dietary supplement. However, one of the most popular uses of ryegrass pollen is a natural way to relieve the symptoms of BPH.
In some studies, pollen extracts have been used to relieve cases of constipation. It can be a source of fiber, depending on the preparation of ryegrass. With the right formulation, it will increase the dietary fiber and improve bowel movements. In these patients, the fiber in ryegrass enhances the softness of the stools and accelerates bowel movements.
How can it be used for BPH?
Studies show that pollen extracts are beneficial for BPH. In some cases, ryegrass pollen extract appears to reduce the size of the prostate. In other cases, it only works in reducing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
These patients say that they feel symptomatic relief, even if the urinary function is apparently the same. Researchers have proposed various mechanisms that explain how is rye grass pollen useful in BPH. The more important are as follows:
- Relaxation of the smooth muscle: Pollen extracts contribute to relaxing the smooth muscle tone of the urethra. It also improves the tone of the urinary bladder. It works similar to alpha-blockers but without the side effects. By doing this, pollen extracts are thought to relieve urinary symptoms (3).
- Facilitate the contraction of bladder muscles: It is easier to urinate because the bladder muscles contract more frequently (4).
- Promote the apoptosis in the epithelial cells of the prostate: Apoptosis is programmed cell death. It is a normal process that all cells are programmed to execute when something goes wrong. In the case of BPH, normal cells would go through apoptosis, but for some reason, they don’t. This contributes to prostate enlargement. A similar process happens in prostate cancer. But rye grass pollen extract apparently works by stimulating the inner machinery of apoptosis (5).
- Inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase: This enzyme converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This active form of testosterone promotes cell growth in the prostate tissue. It may also be involved in the pathogenesis of prostatic cancer. By reducing the activity of 5 alpha-reductase, it prevents complications of BPH (5).
- Increases the levels of zinc: Pollen extracts increase the level of zinc in the serum and inside the prostate. This mineral has apoptogenic effects and suppresses tumor progression in the prostate (5, 6).
- For all of this, ryegrass pollen extracts are successfully used in cases of BPH. Patients feel significant relief in their symptoms and improve their quality of life. As we will see next, this has been tested many times, and with different types of patients.
Studies on how it’s used for BPH
A vast amount of clinical data supports the use of ryegrass pollen extracts to treat the symptoms of BPH. We can highlight some of the most exciting studies in the following list:
An important double-blind, placebo-controlled study was published in 1990. This study enrolled 60 BPH patients candidates for surgery. Before surgery, they used two tablets of Cernilton (rye grass pollen extract) daily for 6 months. The diameter of the prostate was reduced, and the residual urine volume was improved in the treatment group. The symptoms were improved, as well (7).
One of the first meta-analysis of ryegrass pollen extracts evaluated a total of 444 men. The researchers reported that Cernilton extracts reduced the symptoms, especially nocturia. In other words, the patients reported a reduction in the frequency of urination at night. According to these results, the prostate size was not always reduced (8).
A recent trial used 375 mg and 750 mg of ryegrass pollen. In this randomized study, the patients improved their symptoms and slowed down the progression of the disease as the dose was increased (9).
Another step in the process is trying supplements and comparing them with prescription meds. In another study, patients were treated with tamsulosin or tamsulosin and ryegrass pollen. The group of patients with a combination treatment had a more considerable improvement in their symptoms (10).
Thus, according to studies, there are various ways to use rye grass pollen for benign prostatic hyperplasia. One of them is as monotherapy to improve the symptoms and slow down the progression of BPH. Another way is as a side therapy with tamsulosin or any other prescribed drug. In these cases, ryegrass pollen potentiates the effects of medical treatments. It can be used in long-term treatment.
Is it effective for BPH?
The most important clinical trials of ryegrass pollen extract are quite recent. However, this extract has been in the market for over 35 years. Throughout this time, ryegrass extract has achieved substantial improvements in BPH.
Patients report better quality of life, reduced symptoms, and sometimes a reduction of the gland. The size of the gland is sometimes unchanged. However, what almost every clinical trial shows is that symptoms will be improved.
According to a recent review about nutrition for benign prostatic hyperplasia, the response rate is higher than 70%. In other words, more than 70% of patients will see a significant improvement. It inhibits prostate cell growth, reduces inflammation, and works for chronic nonbacterial prostatitis (11).
Another review about nutraceuticals for BPH evaluated various supplements and their ingredients. It went through all of the clinical trials of ryegrass pollen and BPH.
The study mentioned that the effectivity of BPH might be due to a component called beta-sitosterol. A recent review by Cochrane showed substantial proof that beta-sitosterol improves urinary tract symptoms. Ryegrass pollen contains beta-sitosterol, which accounts for its effectivity for BPH (5).
Does it have any adverse side effects?
The usual dose of ryegrass pollen extract is always higher than 80 mg and lower than 120 mg. It can be used two or three times a day, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Still, doses as high as 750 mg have been used in a double-blind study without major side effects.
Studies agree that rye grass pollen extract is well tolerated and safe to use. It can be an essential allergen for some patients, but that’s especially the case of inhaled pollen.
Rare adverse reactions of ryegrass pollen extract include allergic reactions in the skin and gastrointestinal symptoms. It improves the quality of life, especially when combined with medical treatment, and without side effects. More studies are needed to evaluate long-term effects (12).
Other natural supplements for BPH
Ryegrass pollen extract is just one is an extensive list of natural supplements for prostate health.
The majority of them have substantial evidence. Some have been officially recognized as effective. And others have not yet been sufficiently studied, but anecdotal evidence gives them an important spot in the natural treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
The most important natural supplements include (5):
- Serenoa repens (saw palmetto): It’s one of the most widely studied herbal remedies. Saw palmetto improves the BPH symptoms, especially the urge to urinate. This is due to the anti-inflammatory and antiandrogenic potential.
- Pygeum africanum: Pygeum apparently reduces the rate of fibroblast proliferation. It inhibits the inflammatory activity in the gland and has antiandrogenic activity. All of this contributes to BHP symptoms and prognosis.
- Urtica dioica (stinging nettle): This herb works in an enzyme called aromatase. It also appears to stimulate the sex hormone-binding protein. All of this results in a lower concentration of testosterone in the prostate. Lower concentration of testosterone leads to the reduction of the gland and the symptoms.
- Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin): Pumpkin slows down the growth of the prostate. It also modulates the activity of the detrusor muscle. Moreover, it has anti-inflammatory and anti-androgen effects—no wonder why it is useful for BPH.
- Curcuma longa (turmeric): Turmeric is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (against prostaglandins and leukotrienes). It works fantastically to reduce swelling and pain in the prostate. It improves the quality of life and symptoms of patients with BPH, prostatitis, and chronic pelvic pain.
- Hypoxis rooperi (African potato): Similar to ryegrass pollen, it has beta-sitosterol. This substance displays important anti-inflammatory and antiandrogenic activity that improve the symptoms of BPH.
- Green tea: Green tea reduces the size of the prostate due to an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential.
There are many natural treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Rye is a common ingredient in our day-to-day, and ryegrass pollen is also an alternative treatment.
It has many amino acids, essential vitamins and minerals, trace elements, and phytonutrients. One of the substances in ryegrass pollen is called sitosterol, and it reduces the symptoms of BPH along with other antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Many clinical trials have tested the effects of ryegrass pollen for over 30 years. The product has been used in patients with BPH for over 35 years. The clinical experience and medical data show that it improves the quality of life, and may sometimes reduce the size of the prostate.
It can be used as monotherapy or in combination with medical treatment. Either way, it is well-tolerated and not associated with major side effects. Therefore, ryegrass pollen is an excellent option for patients and doctors who are trying to improve the therapeutic effect of medicines and the quality of life of the patient.