Scientific Profile Of Active Ingredients
as a food and a therapeutic herbal treatment for enuresis, nocturia, atrophy of the testes, impotence, inflammation of the prostate and low libido in men. Women also used the Saw Palmetto berries to treat infertility, painful periods, and problems with lactation. Saw Palmetto has other traditional uses as a tonic and expectorant for mucous membranes, particularly the bronchial tubes.
Saw Palmetto in BPH:
An extract of the Saw palmetto berries has been shown to greatly improve the signs and symptoms of
BPH. Like Proscar, the therapeutic effect of the Saw palmetto extract appears to be due to its inhibition of
dihydrotestosterone, the compound which causes the prostate cells to multiply excessively. However, the Saw palmetto extract goes well beyond
Proscar. The Saw palmetto extract not only inhibits the formation of
dihydrotestosterone, it also inhibits the binding of dihydrotestosterone at cellular binding sites. Since Proscar has no effect on blocking the binding of
dihydrotestosterone, Saw palmetto has much greater antagonizing effects of dihydrotestosterone on the prostate. These effects are translated into better clinical results.
Saw Palmetto vs. Proscar: Numerous studies on the Saw palmetto extract have shown it to be effective in nearly 90 percent of patients usually in a period of four to six weeks. In contrast, Proscar is effective in reducing the symptoms in less than 37 percent after taking the drug for one year. To illustrate Saw palmetto extract's superiority over
Proscar, let's look at the effect of both on the maximum urine flow rate, a good indicator of bladder neck obstruction due to an enlarged prostate.
Pygeum Africanum: It is a large evergreen tree that grows in the high plateaus of southern Africa. This herb is often used in men's herbal blends. The pygeum bark is traditionally powdered and drunk as a tea for genito-urinary complaints. Double-blind clinical trials have shown efficacy for many parameters of prostatic hypertrophy, including failure to urinate, nocturnal urination, frequent urination, residual urine, abdominal heaviness, voiding volume, prostate volume and peak flow. Results included significant reduction of symptoms and prostate size, and clearance of bladder neck urethra obstruction.
The pypeum bark contains three groups of active constituents: phytosterols (including beta-sitosterol), pentacyclic triterpenoids (including ursolic and oleaic acids) and ferulic esters of long-chain fatty alcohols (including ferulic esters of docosanol and tetracosanol).
More than half of all men over sixty have enlarged prostates, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Advanced cases can cause bladder infections, kidney damage, or sexual disability Standard treatments include expensive surgical procedures that can result in bleeding, bladder damage, and impotence, and drugs that cause dizziness, fatigue, fainting, and impotence. The European medical community uses Pygeum africanum, a safe, natural remedy for BPH that is largely unknown in the United States. The treatment is effective in more than half of all patients. The tribes of Natal have long used pygeum's brown bark as a cure for bladder pains and urinary difficulty. Studies indicate that pygeum reduces the symptoms of BPH, postponing the need for more powerful drugs or surgery.
Pumpkin Seeds of the genus Cucurbita have enjoyed a long history in folk medicine for use as teniafuges, or agents with the ability to rid the body of intestinal parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms. Derived from such species as Autumn Squash, Crookneck Squash, and the Canada Pumpkin, cucurbita seeds can be consumed plain, or be administered in the form of an infusion or tea.
Usually taken in three separate doses ranging in size from 20 to 150 grams of seeds, the treatment is believed to paralyze the worms, causing them to loosen their grasp and then allowing for them to be an effectively expelled from the body.
Researchers have isolated an amino acid called Cucurbitin that is found only in pumpkin seeds and is thought to be responsible for the worm-expelling effects. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of two unsaturated fatty acids oleic and linoleic acid which may account for claims that pumpkin seeds can relieve symptoms of enlarge prostate. There are no known side effects or reports of toxicity regarding pumpkin seeds.
Commonly found in rye germ oil, B-Sitosterol has the ability to emulsify fats, and is found to be 30 times more potent than choline when it comes to the breaking down of cholesterol deposits.
Beta-sitosterols for benign Prostatic hyperplasia
Clinical Trials: This systematic review aimed to assess the effects of
beta-sitosterols (B-sitosterol) on urinary symptoms and flow measures in men with of benign prostatic hyperplasia
(BPH). 519 men from 4 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials, (lasting 4 to 26 weeks) were assessed. 3 trials used
non-glucosidic B-sitosterols and one utilized a preparation that contained 100%
B-sitosteryl-B-D-glucoside. B-Sitosterols improved urinary symptom scores and flow measures. The weighted mean difference
(WMD) for the IPSS was -4.9 IPSS points (95%CI = -6.3 to -3.5, n = 2 studies). The WMD for peak urine flow was 3.91 ml/sec (95%CI = 0.91 to 6.90, n = 4 studies) and the WMD for residual volume was -28.62 ml (95%CI = -41.42 to -15.83, n = 4 studies). The trial using 100%
B-sitosteryl-B-D-glucoside (WA184) show improvement in urinary flow measures. B-sitosterols did not reduce prostate size. Withdrawal rates for men assigned to
B-sitosterol and placebo were 7.8% and 8.0%, respectively. Conclusions: The evidence suggests
non-glucosidic B-sitosterols improve urinary symptoms and flow measures. Their long term effectiveness, safety and ability to prevent BPH complications are not known.
STINGING NETTLES: In Europe, nettle root is widely used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or prostate enlargement. Like saw palmetto, pygeum, and beta-sitosterol, nettle appears to reduce obstruction to urinary flow and decrease the need for nighttime urination. However, the evidence is not as strong for nettle as it is for these other treatments.
Nettle leaf has recently become a popular treatment for allergies (hay fever) based on one preliminary study. Nettle leaf is highly nutritious, and in cooked form may be used as a general dietary supplement.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Nettle?
The evidence is much better for nettle root and prostatic enlargement than for nettle leaf and allergies.
The use of nettle root for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia has not been as well studied as saw palmetto, but the evidence is at least moderately convincing.
Nettle root contains numerous biologically active chemicals that may influence the function of the prostate, interact with sex hormones, slow the growth of prostate cells, fight prostate cancer, and reduce inflammation.
Open studies involving a total of over 15,000 men with BPH have found significant improvements in prostate size, nighttime urination, urination frequency, urine flow, and residual urine. However, open studies are not necessarily reliable in this case because up to 60% of men with BPH show good responses to placebo.
A double-blind placebo-controlled study of 50 men over 9 weeks found a significant increase in urination volume and urine flow rate. In another double-blind placebo-controlled study, treatment of 67 men with nettle produced a 14% improvement in urine flow and a 53% decrease in residual urine. Finally, a double-blind placebo-controlled study of 40 men found a significant decrease in frequency of urination after 6 months.
Nettle Leaf: A preliminary double-blind placebo-controlled study following 69 individuals suggests that freeze-dried nettle leaf may at least slightly improve allergy symptoms.
One small double-blind study suggests that direct application of stinging nettle leaf to a painful joint may improve symptoms.
Quercetin belongs to a class of water-soluble plant pigments called
flavonoids. Quercetin acts as an antihistamine and has anti-inflammatory properties. As an antioxidant, it protects LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) from becoming damaged. A variety of evidence indicates that quercetin possesses potent antioxidant properties. Cardiologists believe that damage to LDL cholesterol is an underlying cause of heart disease. Quercetin blocks an enzyme that leads to accumulation of
sorbitol, which has been linked to nerve, eye, and kidney damage in those with diabetes. However, no human research has demonstrated these actions of quercetin in people with diabetes patients.
Quercetin is considered a phytoestrogen (i.e., a plant substance with similar functions as that of estrogen). Some phytoestrogens are believed also to have antiestrogenic effects that might lead to reduce risks of certain cancers. Quercetin was found to have this antiestrogenic activity, by inhibiting breast cancer cells in a test tube. In a double-blind trial, 67% of patients taking quercetin had an improvement of prostatitis symptoms, compared to a 20% response rate in the placebo group.
is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes and pink grapefruit. Like the better-known supplement beta-carotene, lycopene belongs to the family of chemicals known as carotenoids. As an antioxidant, it is about twice as powerful as beta-carotene. There is some evidence that a diet high in lycopene may reduce the risk of cancer of the prostate as well as other cancers. Lycopene may also help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
The article Prostate Cancer Prevention, lists an study, which appeared in the August, 2001 issue of Cancer
Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Researchers concluded that lycopene is likely to be beneficial for both prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. According to the article The Best Cancer "Phyters”, reviewed by the faculty at Harvard Medical School, one study found that lycopene had an even more potent ability to stop cancer cells from proliferating than beta-carotene.
In this Health Scout article pass the Tomato Juice, the author reports that Dr. Venket
Rao, a professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto, believes "lycopene could be the 'master switch' to cancer and coronary heart disease and by giving excessive
lycopene, doctors might be able to control the switch."
Another Health Scout article: "A Slice of Pizza Cuts Prostate Cancer Risk" Antioxidant in tomatoes reduces DNA damage, says study. Lower prostate cancer risk in men with elevated plasma lycopene levels: results of a prospective analysis, is the results of a study conducted by Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School
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