BETA-SITOSTEROL Overview Information
Beta-sitosterol is a substance found in plants. Chemists call it a “plant sterol ester.” It is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It is used to make medicine.
Beta-sitosterol is used for heart disease and high cholesterol. It is also used for boosting the immune system and for preventing colon cancer, as well as for gallstones, the common cold and flu (influenza), HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, psoriasis, allergies, cervical cancer, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), asthma, hair loss, bronchitis, migraine headache, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some men use beta-sitosterol for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Some women use it for symptoms of menopause.
It is also used for enhancing sexual activity.
Marathon runners sometimes use beta-sitosterol to reduce pain and swelling after a run.
Some people apply beta-sitosterol to the skin for treating wounds and burns.
In foods, beta-sitosterol is added to some margarines (Take Control, for example) that are designed for use as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet and for preventing heart disease. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows manufacturers to claim that foods containing plant sterol esters such as beta-sitosterol are for reducing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). This rule is based on the FDA’s conclusion that plant sterol esters may reduce the risk of CHD by lowering blood cholesterol levels. Although there is plenty of evidence that beta-sitosterol does lower cholesterol levels, there is no proof that long-term use actually lowers the risk of developing CHD.
Don’t confuse beta-sitosterol with sitostanol, a similar substance contained in the product called Benecol. Both sitostanol and beta-sitosterol are used for lowering cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol and appear to be equally effective.
How does it work?
Beta-sitosterol is a plant substance similar to cholesterol. It might help reduce cholesterol levels by limiting the amount of cholesterol that is able to enter the body. It can also bind to the prostate to help reduce swelling (inflammation).
Likely Effective for:
- High cholesterol. Taking beta-sitosterol significantly lowers total and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, but it does not raise good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
- Trouble urinating because of an enlarged prostate, or “benign prostatic hyperplasia” (BPH). Taking beta-sitosterol helps the symptoms of BPH, but it does not actually shrink an enlarged prostate.
Possibly Effective for:
Possibly Ineffective for:
Likely Ineffective for:
- Baldness. Some men report that using beta-sitosterol with saw palmetto makes them grow more and better hair.
- Burns. There is some evidence that treating second degree burns with beta-sitosterol and berberine ointment works about as well as conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazine.
- Prostate infections.
- Sexual performance problems.
- Preventing colon cancer.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Cervical cancer.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Other conditions.
BETA-SITOSTEROL Side Effects & Safety
Beta-sitosterol is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. It can cause some side effects, such as nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. Beta-sitosterol has also been linked to reports of erectile dysfunction (ED) and loss of interest in sex.
Beta-sitosterol is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of beta-sitosterol during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Sitosterolemia, a rare inherited fat storage disease: People with this condition have too much beta-sitosterol and related fats in their system. They are prone to early heart disease. Taking beta-sitosterol makes this condition worse. Don’t take beta-sitosterol if you have sitosterolemia.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Ezetimibe (Zetia) interacts with BETA-SITOSTEROL
Taking ezetimibe (Zetia) can reduce of amount of beta-sitosterol the body absorbs. This might decrease the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol.
Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination
- Pravastatin (Pravachol) interacts with BETA-SITOSTEROL
Taking pravastatin (Pravachol) might decrease how much beta-sitosterol is in the body. This might decrease the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): 60 to 130 mg of beta-sitosterol divided into 2-3 doses daily.
- For high cholesterol: 800 mg to 6 grams per day divided and given before meals.