BPH, an abbreviation of benign prostatic hyperplasia, is a condition that involves an enlarged prostate. As the prostate grows, it can lead to urinary symptoms that are uncomfortable. One such symptom is the blockage of the ureter, preventing urine from leaving the bladder. It can also produce related problems with the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys. There are a number of potential options for treating this condition. One potential option is herbal treatments, which have led many to question whether they’re effective. We’re going to look at some of these treatments and their potential efficacy.
Understanding BPH And Herbal Treatments
One approach to treating BPH focuses on dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and a related enzyme called 5α-reductase. This enzyme is directly involved in the conversion of testosterone into DHT. This enzyme becomes more active in older men, reducing the amount of testosterone free in their systems. This can result in the growth of prostate cells, the underlying cause of hyperplasia. Herbal treatments are thought to be effective because they can modulate this enzyme’s behavior. The following represents a selection of herbal treatments used in managing BPH:
- Saw Palmetto Extract: Saw palmetto has been found to be as effective as finasteride when used to treat BPH. However, the volume of the prostate was not reduced. Further studies revealed that saw palmetto is no more effective than a placebo. Verdict: No true effect has been proven from treatment with saw palmetto.
- Beta-sitosterol extracts: Rather than a specific plant, beta-sitosterol extracts are found in a number of plants. While it has not been shown to reduce the size of the prostate, it can help improve urine flow and the emptying of the bladder. Study results also show potential benefits for other BPH symptoms. Verdict: Some proven efficacy on symptoms, but no direct effect on BPH.
- Pygeum: This is the bark of an African plum tree. Those who take pygeum report needing to wake up to urinate less often and have fewer trips to the bathroom during the day. They also report that they are better able to empty their bladder and have a stronger urine stream. Verdict: Studies reveal evidence of improved urinary symptoms with BPH. No direct effect on BPH or the size of the prostate.
- Rye Grass: Little research has been done on rye grass pollen extract, but anecdotal evidence suggests that some men experience improvements in their urinary symptoms. Verdict: No studies provide evidence of efficacy.
The evidence suggests that herbal remedies provide some benefit in controlling certain symptoms associated with BPH. However, none of the common herbal remedies provide any meaningful effect on the condition itself. Further, the FDA has yet to approve any herb for treating an enlarged prostate.
Speak To Your Physician About Herbal Treatment of BPH
It’s essential that you report any herbs you may be taking to your doctor. Certain herbal remedies may interfere with medication or increase your risk of bleeding. If you want to learn more about effective methods of treating BPH, reach out to your medical practitioner. They’ll provide valuable insight into effective medical treatment and the impact of herbal treatments on BPH.