Herbal Remedies Can Aid Prostate Health
A Review of Supplements Finds Pros and Cons
WebMD News Archive
Cons: One possible explanation for why the
majority of patients don't get relief? The active ingredient of saw palmetto --
like its exact mechanism -- hasn't been identified, so different formulations
may produce different results, says Katz.
Red clover has long been used as an alternative
treatment for a variety of conditions -- from menopausal hot flashes to
psoriasis -- because it is rich in isoflavones, a protein found in soybeans.
Not only is this believed to help inhibit prostate and other cancer tumors, it
could help treat BPH. A product commercially sold as Trinovin (and whose
manufacturer paid for Katz's study) has been found in several trials to improve
urine flow and decrease symptoms by as much as 23%.
Pros: Isoflavones are suspected of helping more
than BPH, but Trinovin contains four types believed to be powerful for overall
health and in treating BPH and reducing prostate cancer risk.
Cons: Some studies suggest that improvements are
most noticeable after one month and then continue at a much slower rate. Little
or no improvement is noticed at varying doses.
Soy contains high concentrations of the same isoflavones
found in red clover and is often cited as a reason why Japanese men rarely get
Pros: Also believed to offers many health
benefits and strong evidence of reducing prostate cancer.
Cons: For maximum benefit, it's recommend that
men consume eight ounces of soy foods daily, which is impractical and would
create severe gas problems, says Katz.
African tree bark (pygeum africanum) is so popular in
Europe and Africa that the tree from which this treatment is harvested is now
on the endangered list.
Pros: Studies show it brings relief, but how?
Some show it relieves symptoms by reducing prostate swelling, while others
indicate it may reduce inflammation or inhibit growth factors associated with
prostate enlargement and tumor development.
Cons: Typically not a standalone treatment, and
usually used in conjunction with saw palmetto.
Of course, because they are not regulated
by the FDA, some experts say that many herbal supplements vary widely in the
amount of active herbal extract claimed on the label. A study presented to the
American Urological Association last year found that some brands tested
contained less than 15% of the active ingredient listed on their