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Saw Palmetto Extracts And Lycopene Supplementation May Benefit Men with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia

A review of clinical trials shows that saw palmetto is a promising phytonutrients in improving nocturia in men with BPH.

BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia) is a common disease of elderly men and a risk factor for developing prostate cancer later in life. It affects approximately 50% of men in their 50s with increasing prevalence up to 90% of men in their 80s and older.

There has been growing interest in phytotherapeutic agents, both in Europe and North America, for the treatment BPH, especially as a consequence of patients’ dissatisfaction with the adverse effects of the medical alternatives. One of the most frequently prescribed and studied such agent is Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) extract, derived from the berry of the dwarf palm tree.

Saw palmetto was used traditionally to treat urogenital irritations. However its mechanism of action and therapeutic effect remains unknown. In a recent review of current studies regarding the use of Saw Palmetto extracts for benign prostatic hyperplasia, the researchers proposed multiple likely mechanisms of action that have been attributed to this extract, including antiandrogenic action, an anti-inflammatory effect, prolactin signal modulation, and an antiproliferative effect exerted through the inhibition of growth factors.

Regarding efficacy, analysis of the existing clinical database indicates that Saw Palmetto extracts may be considered a viable first-line therapy for treating BPH-related Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms. They offer significant improvements of urinary status while having a favourable safety profile. European Association of Urology guidelines state that Saw Palmetto extracts significantly reduce nocturia in comparison with placebo.

The current results of phytotherapy with Saw Palmetto extracts are very promising. However, its method of action is still to be clarified. More high-quality, randomized, placebo-controlled, long-term studies are required in order to demonstrate without doubt the true therapeutic value of Saw Palmetto extracts. In addition, quality and potency of herbal extracts vary significantly based on extraction and preparation methods used. Consumers are advised to pay particular attention on differentiating between Saw Palmetto products that are registered as medicine and those considered to be general dietary supplements.

In epidemiological studies, regular intakes of lycopene and high blood levels of the carotenoid have been associated with a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. It has been suggested that there may be a possible beneficial role of lycopene in patients diagnosed with BPH. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, German scientists investigated whether intake of lycopene supplements inhibits disease progression in patients with BPH, improving clinical diagnostic markers and symptoms of BPH.

Forty patients, aged between 45-70 yrs with BPH were recruited to participate in this study. They were randomly assigned to receive either a lycopene supplement (15 mg/day) or a placebo for 6 months. The effects of the intervention on carotenoid status, clinical diagnostic markers of prostate proliferation, and symptoms of the disease were assessed at baseline, and at 1, 3, and 6 months intervals.

After 6 months, lycopene supplementation decreased PSA levels in men, whereas there was no change in the placebo group. The plasma lycopene concentration increased in the group taking lycopene but other plasma carotenoids were not affected.

Clinical examinations for enlargement of the prostate in the placebo group showed 24% and 27% increases in prostate volume and weight. In contrast, in the lycopene group, slight and nonsignificant 5% and 3% increases in volume and weight occurred. Prostate enlargement tended to be slower in the lycopene group compared with the placebo group.

Symptoms of the disease, as assessed via the International Prostate Symptom Score questionnaire, were improved in both groups with a significantly greater effect in men taking lycopene supplements.

In conclusion, this study indicates that lycopene supplementation at a dose of 15 mg/day for 6 months, may inhibit disease progression and may ameliorate symptoms in BPH patients.

Petrisor Geavlete et al; Ther Adv Urol (2011); 3(4):193-198
Silke Schwarz et al.; J. Nutr. 2008; 138: 49–53

One Response

  1. I’m not too convinced about the efficacy of Saw Palmetto but I do trust super beta prostate more. I’ve read super beta prostate testimonials and also researched the ingredients and it contains more beta-sitosterol and other minerals. I think many men will agree that it is more effective in improving prostate conditions and prostate health.

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