8 Prostate Supplement FAQs & What You Should Know

You may have been thinking about taking a prostate supplement but you’re not sure what to take. Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis, or you may be interested in keeping that walnut-sized gland as healthy as possible. So your interest may be preventive.

In any case, you may have some questions about prostate supplements. After all, there are numerous products from which to choose, and the information may be confusing or lacking in specificity. Maybe your healthcare provider is not familiar with prostate supplements, in which case you should find a professional who can help you make your final purchasing decision to ensure you are getting a product that is right for you.

At the same time, you can do some research on your own, and that’s where this article comes in. Here are 8 FAQs on prostate supplements to help you get started on your search for the optimal prostate product for you.

1. Why should I take a prostate supplement?

You should consider taking a prostate supplement if you:

  • Have already tried conventional treatments for a prostate condition and you want to complement your efforts
  • Do not want to take any conventional medications. This is, of course, a personal decision. However, you should take this approach only if you are under the guidance of a medical professional, especially if you have a prostate condition or disease
  • Want to enhance or maintain your current prostate health. Taking a prostate supplement may be an effective way to help prevent future prostate problems.

2. How do I know if a prostate supplement is reputable?

You should consider several factors when looking for a reputable prostate supplement. One is transparency. Is there a way to contact the company and speak with a representative about their products? If the product is online, can you clearly see the product label and ingredients?

Another important factor is, are the claims made by the manufacturer backed up with scientific evidence? The producer should provide references to support the ingredients used in their product, and you should be able to search for and read the evidence for yourself. 

Yet another factor is certification. Look for products made in manufacturing facilities that are 100 percent FDA and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified. It is also recommended that the producer be NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified. NSF certification guarantees that the supplement’s contents match those printed on the label, that all the ingredients in the supplement have been listed on the label, and that there are no unacceptable levels of contaminants in the supplement.

Finally, choose a supplement that does not contain synthetic or artificial ingredients or fillers.

3. How long does it take for prostate supplements to work?

That depends on the supplement and the issue you are addressing. Remember that prostate supplements are not medications, and that natural substances can take longer to initiate noticeable results. You may experience results in a few days or a few weeks. If you don’t notice any improvement after 30 days, you may need to find a different prostate supplement.

4. What prostate supplement ingredients may help with an enlarged prostate?

If you have been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate (aka, benign prostatic hyperplasia), there are several natural ingredients that can complement your management strategy. The following ingredients are among those most studied for an enlarged prostate. Although these herbal remedies can be purchased individually, it is often best to use a supplement that combines several herbs to take advantage of the synergy of the product.

Beta-sitosterol: This substance is found in many plants, including corn oils, soybeans, peanuts, rice bran, and wheat germ. Although beta-sitosterol will not have an impact on the size of your prostate, it may help improve urinary flow and allow you to better empty your bladder. In a review of four studies involving more than 500 participants, researchers reported that beta-sitosterol improves urinary flow and urological symptoms.

Pygeum africanum: The bark of the African plum tree (Prunus africana) is the source of this herbal remedy. Some studies have indicated that it may help men with nocturnal urinary urgency (nocturia), improve urine stream, better empty the bladder, and go to the bathroom fewer times during the day. Prunus africana bark may contain atranorin, atraric acid, beta-sitosterol, ferulic acid, and N-butylbenzene sulfonamide, substances that have been shown to improve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Rye grass pollen extract: Evidence that rye grass pollen extract is helpful in managing an enlarged prostate is limited. In one review that involved 163 men, rye grass pollen was compared with placebo. Use of the pollen extract was associated with a significant increase in self-rated improvement and reduced need to get up at night to urinate when compared with placebo. In a subsequent study that enrolled 444 men, the pollen extract resulted in an improvement in overall urinary symptoms, including nocturia.

5. What prostate supplement ingredients may help with prostatitis?

Many of the symptoms of prostatitis are similar to those of an enlarged prostate, so some of the natural remedies are the same. However, there are a few different ingredients you should look for in a prostate supplement that may help manage this condition.

Beta-sitosterol: See question on enlarged prostate

Green tea extract: So far, the research on green tea and prostatitis has focused on animal models. The findings have indicated that the catechins in green tea have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects on prostatitis. This effect was better when the catechins were altered using nanotechnology. Other work has shown that catechins combined with the antibiotic ciprofloxacin (Cipro) resulted in significant improvements in prostatitis symptoms when compared with placebo.

Quercetin: Animal study results point to the value of using quercetin against prostatitis. According to a recent study published in Prostate, quercetin helps protect against CP/CPPS, which is mediated by anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, and specific signaling functions in the body.

Rye pollen extract: See question on enlarged prostate

Saw palmetto: Numerous studies have explained the benefits of taking saw palmetto for management of prostatitis symptoms, especially those associated with the most common form of the condition, chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). In a 2017 report, for example, use of 320 mg saw palmetto daily for 12 weeks resulted in dramatic improvement in lower urinary tract symptoms and in quality of life.

Zinc: The prostate has a very high concentration of zinc, which indicates that this mineral is important for the integrity of this gland. Research shows that taking zinc supplements can help individuals with chronic prostatitis because of its anti-bacterial and immune-modulatory actions in the body.

6. What prostate supplement ingredients may help with prostate cancer?

Prostate supplements should not be used as a replacement for conventional prostate cancer treatment. However, they can be a significant complementary addition to your current treatment strategy. Be sure to discuss your plans to use prostate supplements with your physician.

Green tea: Numerous studies have shown that high consumption of green tea is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. One such study includes a systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2017. That study was the first meta-analysis that looked at the consumption of the active ingredients in green tea (catechins) and the incidence of prostate cancer. The authors found that “higher green tea consumption was linearly reduced PCa [prostate cancer] risk with more than 7 cups/day and green tea catechins were effective for preventing PCa.”

Resveratrol: This antioxidant and phytonutrient has been demonstrating much promise in the fight against prostate cancer. In 2019 alone, there have been numerous animal studies showing how resveratrol can not only inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells but also suppress spread of the disease and promote cell death (apoptosis). Effective doses of resveratrol have not yet been determined.

Vitamin D: The body transforms vitamin D into several factors that help prevent the spread of prostate cancer cells as well as their reproduction. A number of studies also indicate that low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be seen in men with prostate cancer than in those without the disease, and that vitamin may help lower PSA levels. However, several studies have noted that high doses of vitamin D are not recommended.

Zinc: Taking zinc supplements may reduce the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. In animal studies, human prostate cancer cells were exposed to zinc, and the cells were prone to undergo cell suicide. Zinc also has been shown to be a player in the regulation of prostate cancer cell growth.

7. What prostate supplement ingredients are recommended for overall prostate health?

Look for a prostate supplement that offers a variety of support. The main ingredients for a prostate supplement include beta-sitosterol, green tea extract, Pygeum africanum, vitamin D, and zinc (see details about each above). Saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil are also sometimes suggested.

8. How do I know if my prostate supplement will interact with medications or other supplements?

If you plan to take a prostate supplement (or any supplement for that matter), you should talk to a knowledgeable healthcare professional about any possible drug and/or supplement interactions. This is especially important if you have any medical issues that may be impacted by your use of the supplement. Naturally, you can do your own research online to uncover possible interactions or contraindications, but it’s always best to check with a professional; if not your doctor, then talk with a pharmacist.

References

Costello LC, Franklin RB. A comprehensive review of the role of zinc in normal prostate function and metabolism; and its implications in prostate cancer. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 2016 Dec 1; 611:100-12

Goodarzi D et al. The efficacy of zinc for treatment of chronic prostatitis. Acta Med Indones 2013 Oct; 45(4): 259-64

Guo Y et al. Green tea and the risk of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore) 2017 Mar; 96(13): e6426

Jang YG et al. Resveratrol inhibits DHT-induced progression of prostate cancer cell line through interfering with the AR and CXCR4 pathway. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2019 Jun 8; 192:105406

Lee YS et al. Synergistic effect between catechin and ciprofloxacin on chronic bacterial prostatitis rat model. International Journal of Urology 2005 Apr; 12(4): 383-89

MacDonald R et al. A systematic review of cernilton for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. BJU International 2000 May; 85(7): 836-41

McNicholas T, Kirby R. Benign prostatic hyperplasia and male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). BMI Clinical Evidence 2011 Aug 26; 2011.

Petrou S et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation in prostate cancer: a systematic review of randomized control trials. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 2018 Feb; 88(1-2): 100-12

Ramakrishnan S et al. Association among plasma 1,25(OH)2D, ratio of 1,25(OH)2 D to 25(OH)D, and prostate cancer aggressiveness. Prostate 2019 Jul; 79(10): 1117-24

Shahvazi S et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Hormone and Metabolic Research 2019 Jan; 51(1): 11-21

Thompson RQ et al. Chemical comparison of Prunus africana bark and pygeum products marketed for prostate health. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 2019 Jan 30; 163:162-69

Wilt TJ et al. Beta-sitosterol for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review. BJU International 1999 Jun; 83(9): 976-83

Yoon BI et al. Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects of nanocatechin in a chronic bacterial prostatitis rat model. Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy 2010 Aug 7

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