An alternative for prostate enlargement
July 14, 1999
Web posted at: 5:44 PM EDT (2144 GMT)
By Michael Murray, N.D.
For most men, retirement, grandchildren and maybe a home in Florida signify their approaching years as an older citizen in society. Unfortunately, that hallmark may also include an enlargement of the prostate.
According to the National Institute on Aging, more than half of all American men in their 60s will experience prostate enlargement, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). About 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s will develop BPH.
But with promising results coming out of a battery of studies on an herb called saw palmetto, help may have arrived for these men.
Researchers have shown in numerous clinical studies that saw palmetto extract can significantly reduce the severity of BPH symptoms, which include difficulty in urinating, an increased urgency to urinate and frequent nighttime urination (nocturia). In some studies, about 90 percent of the men with mild to moderate BPH reported that their symptoms improved during the first four to six weeks of saw palmetto therapy. The extract may decrease symptoms by affecting the prostate gland's reaction to certain hormones.
Dr. Johan Braekman of the University of Brussels in Belgium recently led a revealing study on saw palmetto extract and reported the results in the journal Current Therapeutic Research. In this study, 305 BPH patients took 160 mg of the extract two times a day. After 45 days, 83 percent of patients said that their symptoms had improved. After 90 days, 88 percent said that their symptoms had improved. Doctors confirmed the improvements by doing physical examinations on the men.
None of the men experienced serious side effects.
A better life
Perhaps the most impressive result of the study was that the men reported an improvement in their quality of life. At the start of the study, only one in 10 of the men reported being "satisfied." After 90 days, more than one in three said they were satisfied. The percentage of men who said they were "happy" and "delighted" also increased.
This result demonstrates just how influential a bothersome symptom such as nocturia can be on an individual's outlook. Many BPH patients suffer from sleep deprivation; researchers think that the men felt happier mostly because the reduced frequency of nighttime urination let them sleep more.
Another important finding from this study was that saw palmetto didn't seem to affect the levels of prostatic specific antigen (PSA), a protein that doctors normally use as a gauge in diagnosing prostate cancer.
Saw palmetto's success in alleviating BPH symptoms, however, depends on the severity of one of the chief symptoms, the inability to completely empty the bladder of urine. If after urination a patient's bladder contains 50 ml or less of urine, then saw palmetto is likely to be effective. For men with urine levels between 50 and 100 ml, the extract can yield pretty good results. But with levels between 100 ml and 150 ml, BPH patients would probably not see results from saw palmetto within the customary four- to six- week therapy period. Men with urine levels of more than 150 ml most likely would not benefit from saw palmetto.
Trying it at home
Fat-soluble saw palmetto extracts are most effective. For best results, take 160 mg of saw palmetto two times a day. Labels on bottles of the soft-gelatin capsules will read: "Standardized to contain 85%-95% fatty acids and sterols."
Saw palmetto is considered safe, and no one has ever reported any significant side effects in clinical trials.
Copyright 1999 WebMD. All rights reserved.
RELATEDS AT :
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
American Medical Association - Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Administration on Aging-Age Page
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