There are three main things that can happen to the prostate, including:
- Acute or chronic prostatitis. It is characterized by inflammation of the prostate. In some cases, prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection, while other times the cause is unknown.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate often causes lower urinary tract symptoms. This is one of the most common conditions in older men.
- Prostate cancer. This form of cancer occurs in the prostate. It is the fourth leading cause of death in men worldwide.
- Painful urination
- Frequent need to urinate
- Waking up in the middle of the night to urinate
- pain during ejaculation
- sexual dysfunction
- Pain in the lower back, buttocks, or pelvic area
Supplements do not cure or treat prostate-related problems. However, many people claim that usually
Common supplement ingredients
Overall, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of supplements for prostate health is weak.
However, limited research suggests that certain ingredients may help relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with prostate problems.
Still, while some ingredients may make you feel more comfortable, others may not be effective or may be harmful to prostate health. Therefore, it is important to always talk to your healthcare provider before taking prostate supplements.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is one of the most common ingredients in prostate health supplements. This is a palm tree native to the southeastern United States.
Specifically, saw palmetto berries and extract are used to help treat urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH. While the exact mechanism is unknown, it is believed that the anti-inflammatory effects of saw palmetto may play a role.
A study of 165 men with BPH found that taking 160 mg saw palmetto extract capsules four times daily for 12 weeks significantly improved prostate symptom scores, urinary flow rates, and quality of life scores.
Likewise, two older studies found improvements in urinary tract symptoms in men after taking daily saw palmetto supplements for 3-6 months.
Although promising, research on the effectiveness of saw palmetto on symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia in humans is limited. Additionally, research results on its effectiveness in treating BPH symptoms are mixed.
In a review of 17 studies spanning 4-72 weeks, saw palmetto was found to be no more effective than placebo in reducing urinary tract symptoms.
Furthermore, given the wide variation in dosage between studies, the optimal effective dose in patients with prostatic hyperplasia is unknown.
Also, keep in mind that most studies only include individuals diagnosed with BPH or other prostate problems, so it's unclear whether supplements help prevent prostate-related urinary tract symptoms in healthy adults.
Saw palmetto extract is also said to help prevent prostate cancer. Some evidence from test-tube and animal studies suggests that treatment with saw palmetto may help stop the spread and growth of prostate cancer cells.
However, these protective effects have not been confirmed in humans.
Overall, more research is needed to confirm the potential benefits and appropriate dosage of saw palmetto extract for prostate health.
Finally, while saw palmetto is generally considered safe, some people may not tolerate saw palmetto well. The most common side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea, constipation, and allergic reactions (8Trusted Source).
Beta-sitosterol is a common plant compound that belongs to a large class of substances called phytosterols. Phytosterols, produced by plants, are natural steroids that have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol.
Beta-sitosterol, in particular, has been shown to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Beta-sitosterol is also present in saw palmetto and has been studied for its potential to reduce inflammation associated with urinary tract symptoms of BPH and possibly prevent prostate cancer.
While limited test-tube and animal studies suggest beta-sitosterol has potential anticancer effects, more research is needed in humans.
A review study of dietary intake of plant sterols, including beta-sitosterol, and cancer risk found that overall intake of plant sterols was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
However, it is uncertain whether plant sterol supplements have the same protective effect.
As for its role in BPH, one study of 91 men with symptomatic BPH compared the effects of beta-sitosterol-rich saw palmetto oil to saw palmetto oil alone.
The study observed that the concentrated oil was more effective at reducing the severity of urinary tract symptoms over 12 weeks than saw palmetto oil or placebo alone.
Likewise, while the results are encouraging, more research is needed on the effectiveness and optimal dosage of beta-sitosterol for prostate health.
Chronic prostatitis is a painful disease involving inflammation of the prostate. The disease is common in men under the age of 50 and is typically characterized by pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, and painful urination and ejaculation.
While anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen are often used to help reduce inflammation and pain, there is growing interest in using pollen extract as a natural alternative to these medications.
A study of 65 patients with chronic prostatitis found that taking a capsule containing 1 gram of pollen extract and multiple B vitamins daily for 3 months significantly improved chronic prostatitis symptom scores.
Additionally, the pollen extract group had significantly lower levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8), a marker of inflammation that is higher in patients with chronic prostatitis.
Likewise, a review of 10 studies found that pollen extract significantly improved quality of life and symptom scores in individuals diagnosed with chronic prostatitis.
In particular, the most common pollen extract mixture used in these clinical trials was Graminex, which is a mixture of standardized extracts of ryegrass pollen (Secal cereal), corn pollen (Zea mays), and Timothy pollen (Phleum pratense).
Pygeum, an herbal extract obtained from the bark of the African cherry tree (Prunus africana), is another common ingredient in prostate supplements.
Limited test-tube and human studies suggest that pygeum extract can reduce inflammation associated with prostatitis and prevent the growth of cancer cells.
An earlier review looked at 18 studies looking at the benefits of pygeum supplementation in improving BPH-related symptoms compared with placebo.
The review found that pygeum supplementation significantly improved urinary flow measurements. Additionally, men who took pygeum were more than twice as likely to report improvements in overall symptoms.
However, it is important to note that the studies included in this review were smaller and shorter in duration. They also only compared pygeum to a placebo, so it's unclear how effective it is compared to standard medical interventions for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia.
While research on the effectiveness of pygeum supplements is limited, so far it appears to be safe, with minimal reported side effects.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) root is a flowering plant often used in alternative medicine to help reduce pain and inflammation.
It has been shown to contain a variety of plant compounds that have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. It is commonly found in supplements used to treat urinary tract and bladder infections.
Limited animal and human studies indicate that it may also help reduce lower urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH.
A 6-month study of 558 adult men with BPH symptoms found that taking 120 mg of nettle root extract three times daily significantly improved lower urinary tract symptoms compared with placebo.
Additionally, test-tube and animal studies suggest nettle root may have anti-cancer effects. However, there are currently no studies supporting its ability to help prevent prostate cancer in humans.
Despite promising results, most research on nettle root extract for prostate health is limited and outdated. Larger studies are needed to evaluate its ability to reduce symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia, as well as its role in prostate cancer.
pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil is another common ingredient in prostate supplements due to its high concentration of anti-inflammatory compounds.
By reducing inflammation, pumpkin seed oil is thought to help improve urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia and chronic nonbacterial prostatitis.
In a study of 60 men with BPH, consuming 500 mg of oil-free hydroethanol pumpkin seed extract (equivalent to 350 mg of natural pumpkin seed oil extract, equivalent to 10 grams of pumpkin seeds) significantly reduced symptoms over 12 weeks ).
Specifically, taking pumpkin seed extract supplements reduced the International Prostate Symptom Score by an average of 30%.
Still, research on pumpkin seed oil's effectiveness and optimal dosage for treating prostate problems is generally limited.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient required for several important processes in the body, including immune function and bone health.
Several observational studies have also shown an association between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Still, research on whether vitamin D supplementation can prevent prostate cancer is inconclusive. In fact, one review even found that individuals with high circulating levels of vitamin D had an increased risk of prostate cancer.
While taking vitamin D supplements may benefit men who are deficient or have low vitamin D levels, high-dose supplementation is not currently recommended for prostate health.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays an important role in cell growth and DNA repair. It is also found in large amounts in prostate tissue.
Interestingly, studies have found that zinc concentrations in the prostate are significantly lower in men with prostate cancer. Therefore, zinc is currently being studied for its potential role in preventing or slowing the growth of prostate cancer.
While some studies show that high zinc intake is associated with a reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer, other studies have found that it is associated with an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
Overall, research on zinc and prostate cancer risk is inconclusive. Therefore, unless zinc supplements are prescribed by a healthcare provider, their use is not recommended to maintain prostate health.
Vitamin E is another essential nutrient commonly found in prostate supplements.
Some earlier research suggests that vitamin E's antioxidant properties may protect against prostate cancer. However, recent research has linked vitamin E supplements to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial was a large study in which 35,533 men were randomized to receive one of 4 treatments: 200 mcg of selenium per day, 400 IU of vitamin E per day, 400 IU of vitamin E plus 200 mcg of daily selenium, or placebo agent.
At the end of the study, men who took only vitamin E supplements had a significantly increased risk of developing prostate cancer by 17% over seven years.
Although research into the potential link between vitamin E and prostate cancer is ongoing, vitamin E supplementation is not currently recommended to reduce prostate cancer risk.
Men should avoid taking vitamin E supplements unless recommended by a health care provider.
Selenium is another essential mineral that has generated some controversy regarding its safety and effectiveness for prostate health.
In two large reviews, higher levels of selenium in the body were associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer, particularly among current and former smokers.
However, one study of 4,459 men found that taking selenium supplements after being diagnosed with prostate cancer was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer mortality.
Another study also raised concerns about selenium supplements after it was found that supplementing with 200 micrograms of selenium per day increased the risk of prostate cancer in men who had high baseline selenium levels before taking the supplements.
Of note, however, selenium supplementation was not found to have a significant effect (either positive or negative) on prostate cancer risk in those with low baseline selenium levels.
Overall, more research is needed on the safety and effectiveness of selenium supplements, especially in people with higher baseline selenium levels and in people who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Other common ingredients
In addition to the ingredients listed above, many other ingredients commonly found in prostate supplements include:
- Lycopene. Research has found a weak link between high intakes of lycopene from tomato products and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Still, more research is needed to confirm this effect of lycopene supplements.
- Pomegranate extract. Test tube and animal studies show that pomegranate extract can slow the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells. However, human studies have not found significant improvements in cancer progression.
- Green tea extract. High green tea intake has been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer. Additionally, compounds in green tea may have anti-cancer properties. However, more conclusive research is needed.
- Soy isoflavones. Limited animal and human observational studies have found that soy isoflavones may protect against prostate cancer, while other studies have found no significant effect. More high-quality human studies are needed .
While it is safe to obtain these ingredients through whole foods in your diet, more research is needed to confirm whether taking them in supplement form can have a beneficial and meaningful impact on your prostate health.
Many prostate supplements on the market claim to help support prostate health.
While certain ingredients can relieve urinary tract symptoms associated with prostate problems, research on their effectiveness is often limited.
Additionally, since some supplements may contain ingredients like vitamin E or zinc that may be harmful to prostate health, it's important to pay close attention to the ingredients in the products you buy.
Finally, because supplements do not treat or cure prostate problems, it is important to discuss any concerns you have about your prostate health with your medical provider. In particular, any signs of prostate cancer should be contacted by your doctor as soon as possible.