Herbal therapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia
Herbal supplements that may be used to relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) include saw palmetto, beta-sitosterol, Pygeum africanum, and Cernilton.
Generally, the trials using these substances have been short, and self-improvement scores can be biased. Because different preparations are available for each substance and they are not always equivalent, the results cannot be generalized to all preparations, and results may vary.
Talk with your doctor before starting any herbal therapy.
Saw palmetto is made from the ripe berries of the plant Serenoa repens, the dwarf palm. The dwarf palm is a native plant in America.
- Saw palmetto improved symptoms just as well as tamsulosin and finasteride.
- The risk of erection problems when using saw palmetto was less than that of finasteride.
See more information on saw palmetto.
Beta-sitosterol is an extract made from Hypoxis rooperi, the South African star grass.
One review of trials using beta-sitosterol reports that beta-sitosterol reduced the American Urological Association (AUA) symptom index more than a placebo did.2
See more information on beta-sitosterol.
P. africanum extract is made from the bark of the African plum tree.
One review of 18 studies shows that P. africanum improved symptoms compared to a placebo. It also increased urine flow and decreased the amount of urine retained in the bladder.2 But these studies did not follow up for very long. The type of extract and how much was used was also different in each study, so the results are hard to compare.
Cernilton is an extract made from Secale cereale, or rye grass pollen.
In two studies, more men who took rye grass pollen said they had improved symptoms, compared to men who took a placebo.2 But both studies were small and had no long-term follow-up. Also, it was not known in either study how the extract was made or how much the men used.
Last Updated: March 24, 2008