Many men will experience prostate problems over the course of their lifetime. It is estimated that 50% of men over 40 experience some sort of prostate symptoms and that depending on longevity that can go up to 95%. Some early symptoms of prostate disease are:
- Blood in the urine
- Urgent or frequent urination
- Burning feeling during urination
- Painful ejaculation
When first confronted with these symptoms it is a very frightening experience. The word cancer or tumor itself has a very negative connotation and for good reason. This brings fear and anxiety into peoples lives. The good news is that many of the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are also symptoms which are mimicked by a much less serious condition called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH.
What is the Prostate
The prostate lies below the bladder which stores urine. It surrounds the urethra which is the tube that urine flows through during evacuation. The prostate is one of the 3 glands necessary for reproduction and supplies about 15% of the total volume of semen. The exact function of the prostate is still largely unknown but is believed to promote survival of sperm cells by reducing acidity in the vagina.
What is BPH
Benign Prostaic Hyperplasis (BPH) is a condition that is also known as an enlarged prostate. This occurs from an increase in the number of cells in the prostate. This may occur in different parts of the prostate leading to different prostate shapes. This is a common condition and in no way associated with prostate cancer.
How can BPH be Treated
Now that we know what BPH is and what causes it, how can it be treated? For many years it was treated by surgery. The most common surgical procedure is trans urethral resection of the prostate gland (TURP). While the majority of men undergoing this procedure reported improved conditions it is not without it’s complications and needed to be repeated in anywhere from 2-10% of men within 5 years. Another treatment is through prescription drugs that also have a host of side effects. More recently a number of patients have reported positive results by the use of herbal remedies. For centuries ancient sages have were using saw palmetto berries, stinging nettle, rye pollen, star grass and pumpkin seeds to treat men with urological and prostate problems. Century’s later scientific study has affirmed their importance in fighting these disorders.
Is Beta-sitosterol Effective in treating BPH
Beta-sitosterol is a micro nutrient found in the cells and cell membranes of oil producing plants. It is a plant fat known as phytosterols. In this natural state it is very hard for the body to incorporate. Plant sterols were first described chemically in 1922. It was found that pumpkin seeds contained high amounts of the Beta-sitosterol. In its dietary form it is obtained from saw palmetto which contains very high levels of the substance.
Since then there have been many blind studies that have proven its effectiveness in the treatment of BPH. We have summarized a few for you review.
A very intensive study done over 31 years and involving 2929 men published in 1998 vol. 280 of the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that strong extracts of saw palmetto containing high levels of Beta-sitosterol improves urological symptoms and improved flow rates.
One of the most important and well done studies was conducted by Dr. Berges of the University of Bochum in Germany and published in the Lancet, vol 345 (1995). This study was done using 200 men, half of who received a placebo over the course of one year and concluded that “Significant improvement in symptoms and urinary flow parameters show the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol in the treatment of BPH.”
In conclusion, while ancient people were aware of the benefits of plants and berries containing Beta-sitosterol on prostate health it wasn’t until modern times that science could identify the substance that was responsible for the results that they were seeing. With the many studies done over the last 25 years the scientific community has been able to consistently repeat the benefits of the substance on men who are suffering from BPH and give them a proven alternative to drugs and surgery.
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