Saw Palmetto for Enlarged Prostate: What’s the Latest?

Maybe your doctor just diagnosed you
with benign prostatic hyperplasia (aka BPH, an enlarged prostate). Perhaps
you’ve had BPH for a while, or you’re wondering whether it’s in your future.
After all, it affects 70 percent of men in the US ages 60 to 69 and 80 percent
of those 70 years or older. What are your treatment options? If you want a
natural approach, you might consider saw palmetto for enlarged prostate.

Why saw palmetto for enlarged prostate?

If you search for information on
natural ways to treat an enlarged prostate, saw palmetto often comes up. A
number of research studies have shown that the herb can be especially helpful
in managing symptoms associated with BPH. Those symptoms, often referred to as
LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms), include urinary urgency, urinary
frequency, dribbling, painful urination, frequent nighttime urination, and the
annoying start-and-stop urination.

Take this new study on LUTS and BPH,
for example, which was published in March 2019 in Urology. In this multicenter,
double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 354 men were given either 320 mg saw
palmetto (159 men) or a placebo (169) daily for 24 weeks. The investigators
evaluated changes in the International Prostate Symptom Score and peak urinary
flow as well as other LUTS factors, total prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
levels, quality of life score, and sexual function.

How did the men in the saw palmetto
group do? Compared with those who received placebo, they experienced

  • Significant improvement in peak urinary flow, IPSS scores,
    LUTS symptoms, quality of life, and sexual function scores.
  • One or more adverse events occurred in 2 men in the placebo
    group and 3 in the saw palmetto group
  • Overall, the authors stated that the herbal supplement was
    “effective, safe, well-tolerated, and clinically and statistically superior to
    placebo.”

What should I know about saw palmetto for enlarged prostate?

The saw palmetto berries contain
more than 100 compounds, which include fatty acids, long-chain alcohol, and
phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and others.
Beta-sitosterol is the phytosterol most often mentioned when talking about an
enlarged prostate, because it can attach itself to the prostate and has anti-inflammatory
properties. As beta-sitosterol reduces swelling and inflammation, men can
experience relief from the symptoms associated with LUTS.

More specifically, beta-sitosterol
inhibits the activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme is
responsible for converting testosterone into 5-alpha dihydrotestosterone (DHT),
a hormone that promotes the growth of the prostate. That makes beta-sitosterol
a substance that inhibits the activity of DHT and thus helpful in the
management of an enlarged prostate.

If you choose to take a saw palmetto
supplement, be sure you are getting a pure product that is providing all the
ingredients stated on the label, especially when it comes to beta-sitosterol.
In a 2018 study, the authors attempted to verity the actual amount of
phytosterols in supplements that contained saw palmetto. They used a technique
called gas-chromatography, which is commonly used for this purpose.

They discovered a wide variation in
the amount of phytosterols in the supplements they studied, which included both
those that had saw palmetto as the sole ingredient as well as combination
products. Therefore, it’s best to choose a product from a highly reliable
source when choosing supplements that contain saw palmetto if you want to reap the
benefits of this herb.

As an added bonus, beta-sitosterol
also has been associated with lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) without having an
impact on good cholesterol (HDL). The phytosterol also may help enhance immune
system function, normalize blood sugar (glucose) levels, and help in the fight
against prostate cancer.

The bottom line

There seems to be a place for use of
saw palmetto for enlarged prostate and the LUTS that accompany it. Look for
high-quality supplements with certified amounts of beta-sitosterol.

Sources

Giammarioli S et al. Phytosterols in
supplements containing Serenoa repens: an example of variability of active
principles in commercial plant based products. Natural Product Research 2018 Oct 8:1-5

Kurzweil R, Grossman T. 6 proven
health benefits of beta-sitosterol. Transcend

Parsons JK. Benign prostatic
hyperplasia and male lower urinary tract symptoms: epidemiology and risk
factors. Current Bladder
Dysfunction Reports
2010 Sep 7

Saper RB. Clinical use of saw
palmetto. Up To Date 2019 Apr

WebMD. Beta-sitosterol.

Ye Z et al. Efficacy and safety of
Serenoa repens extract among patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia in
China: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Urology 2019 Mar 14

This Could Be The Greatest Spice For Men’s Health

I eat or drink turmeric in some form every day – on my oats, in my smoothies, in my tea, on my eggs, and in my curries: basically, I sprinkle it on nearly everything I eat.

Why do I like it so much? Turmeric, and its well-known ingredient curcumin has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been studied for a wide variety of healing properties, most of which greatly benefit men’s health. Here are a few of them: Continue reading

5 Testosterone Boosting Myths

low testosterone myths

There are a lot of myths around what works and what doesn’t to help boost testosterone. Here are 5 things that definitely don’t help to boost your energy and T levels.

Doing Long, Slow Aerobic Exercise

Long, slow aerobic exercise, like long-distance running and cycling, or long workouts of ninety minutes or more, can cause testosterone to flatline or drop. Some long-distance cyclists even have to get on T therapy simply to get their levels back up to something approaching normal. (Hours on a bike saddle, with all that weight where the sun don’t shine, can also lead to erectile dysfunction—yet another reason to limit your long-distance exercise!) Low T in endurance athletes is a double whammy, because it can also lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis—low bone density—which makes these athletes more vulnerable to fractures forming during their sport of choice. I hate to knock any particular form of exercise, especially since so few of us get enough of it anyway. But if you’re concerned about low T, stay away from all those junk miles.

Eating Low-Fat 

There’s a reason that injectable T is administered in an oily solution: it’s fat-soluble. Cutting fat out of your diet—or even lowering it substantially—can reduce T levels. One study indicated that a diet consisting of less than 40 percent fat (with that fat coming mostly from animal sources) can lead to a decrease in testosterone levels. Another study showed that increasing fat consumption from 20 percent of total calories to 40 percent increased T levels significantly. Conversely, following a low-fat, high-fiber diet (ironically, the type of diet that was strongly recommended for optimal health even up to a decade ago), reduces testosterone by 12 percent. While 40 percent is an awfully high percentage of your diet to come from fat calories, this fact certainly drives home the point that dietary fat is important. So make (the right) fat your friend include Omega 3 fatty oils, avocados, and my favorite, coconut oil

Eating Low-Carb

After the Great Dietary Fat Scare of the 1980s and 1990s turned out to be overblown, the Twenty-First-Century Carb Crackdown quickly took its place. Carbs stand accused of all manner of crimes, from expanding waistlines to brain fog to, invariably, diabetes and obesity.

When it comes to overly processed junk food (corn syrup–laden desserts, Wonder Bread, Saltines, sugary cereals), I couldn’t agree more: that stuff’s nutritionally bankrupt crap. But legitimate whole-wheat products, eaten in moderation, are another story entirely—the much- maligned bread and pasta included, which have caused all kinds of objections.

Continue reading

6 Things You Should Know about Human Growth Hormone

human growth hormone

Human growth hormone (HGH) is popular as a performance-enhancing substance and for its anti-aging properties. But what do you really know about HGH?

What is human growth hormone?

HGH is a hormone and a protein produced in the pituitary gland. Although it has a role in maintaining healthy tissue overall, it is probably best known for assisting in increasing muscle mass and bone density and an ability to promote cell growth and regeneration by activating receptors to initiate the process. Human growth hormone also can boost libido, slow the progression of age-related degenerative diseases, and help support a sense of well-being. Continue reading

Testosterone Doesn’t Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

EveryDay Male

For years, men have expressed concern that using testosterone treatment (hormone replacement therapy) will boost their risk of developing prostate cancer. The results of a new study, presented at the American Urological Association 2016 annual meeting, however, have shown that testosterone treatment doesn’t increase prostate cancer risk. In fact, other new research suggests such treatment may reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Continue reading

Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplementation Results in Lower Rate of Mental Decline

Best Omega 3 Fish Oil

An article published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reveals a decreased rate of cognitive deterioration in Alzheimer’s disease patients who had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.*

The study included 174 men and women with Alzheimer’s disease who were randomized to receive a low-does omega-3 supplement that provided 150 mg EPA and 430 mg DHA per day or a placebo for six months, followed by a six month period during which all participants were supplemented with omega-3. Plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels and cognitive performance were assessed at the beginning of the study, and at six and 12 months. Continue reading

These Popular Medications Are Linked to Brain Damage

Drugs That Shrink The Brain

Your favorite cold medicine could be shrinking your brain.

A new study reveals that drugs used to treat colds and a range of other common health issues, including allergies, heartburn, hypertension, insomnia, and depression, may erode gray matter and increase the risk for dementia and other cognitive problems in older adults.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as Tylenol PM, Benadryl, Claritin, Dimetapp, Paxil, Xanax, Zyrtec, Lasix, and Coumadin, belong to a class of drugs known as anticholinergics. They work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits electrical impulses between nerve cells. Using PET and MRI scans, researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine examined the brain structure and metabolism of 451 people with an average age of 73. The study found those taking anticholinergic drugs had smaller brains and lower levels of glucose metabolism, particularly in the hippocampus – a brain region involved with memory that is vulnerable to early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. People on anticholinergics also performed less well on tests measuring short-term memory and executive functions, including planning, verbal reasoning, and problem solving.

Alzheimer’s patients are deficient in acetylcholine, which is why, the researchers warn, these drugs could trigger or worsen the disease. If taking them is absolutely necessary, study author Shannon Risacher tells Time.com, “I’d suggest that doctors monitor medications and their effects, and use the lowest dose that’s effective.”

How Omega-3 Fish Oil Helps Fight Aging

Omega 3 Fish Oil

If you are serious about tackling the effects of growing older, the findings of research from the University of Guelph may cause you to change your approach to nutrition. The new study has revealed how omega-3 fatty acids fight aging and can help ward off disease and both physical and mental impairments associated with advancing age. The omega-3 fatty acids used in the study were those most abundant in fatty fish and typically provided in fish oil supplements: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The researchers set out to see how fish oil supplements containing EPA and DHA impacted changes associated with aging, such as decrease in metabolic rate and muscle mass and increase in body fat, as well as on vital factors, including blood pressure, heart rate, and measures of c-reactive protein, glucose, insulin, and triglycerides. Twenty-four healthy, older women (mean, 66 years) were given either 3 grams of EPA/DHA or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Here’s what they found. Continue reading

Here’s What Happens to Your Sperm if You Don’t Eat Right

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 6.19.21 AM

A recent study verified what researchers suggested 24 years ago: that sperm concentration and the percentage of normal-looking sperm are declining dramatically. What are the reasons for these changes in the viability of sperm? A first-of-its-kind study from Harvard researchers has identified one reason and explains how diet can impact your sperm count and quality, which is especially important if you are trying to conceive.

First, however, let’s look at what’s happened to the state of sperm over the past few decades. Continue reading

How Omega-3 Fish Oils Fight Prostate Cancer

Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement

The findings of a new review suggest that dietary omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil fight prostate cancer on several levels. Although this is not the first study to show a positive relationship between fish oil and the growth and progression of prostate cancer, it does, according to the authors, “underscore the potential of fish oil in modulating the clinical course of human prostate cancer through the immune system.” Continue reading