Natural Treatments for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH- Prostate Inflammation)

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Nelson Vergel

Phytotherapy, or the use of plant extracts, is becoming widely used in the management of many medical conditions including BPH (Table 11) 107 . Often these agents are promoted to aid "prostatic health" and a significant proportion of men try them. Factors also contributing to their widespread use include the perception that they are supposedly ''natural'' products; the presumption of their safety (although this is not adequately proven); their alleged potential to assist in avoiding surgery, and even the unproven claim that they may prevent prostate cancer. The widespread availability of these products (without prescription) in vitamin shops, supermarkets, pharmacies and over the internet has contributed to their usage and reflects the demand for these phytotherapeutic agents. The mechanisms of action are poorly understood but have been proposed to be (1) anti-inflammatory, (2) inhibitors of 5alpha-reductase, and more recently (3) through alteration in growth factors 108 .

Phytotherapy although promising, lacks long-term, good quality clinical data 109 . Nevertheless, because there is a large placebo effect associated with treatment of voiding symptoms, the use of herbal products that have few or no side effects may be a reasonable first-line approach for many patients 110 . However, patients should be counselled that the efficacy, mechanisms of action and long term effects of these agents are not known and they must be aware of the limitations before proceeding 111 .

The most popular phytotherapeutic agents are extracted from the seeds, barks and fruits of plants. Products may contain extracts from one or more plants and different extraction procedures are often used by manufacturers. Thus the composition and purity of any one product may differ even if they both originated from the same plant. Basic research on one product may not be easily transferred to another making the gathering of data and giving of advice difficult 112 .

Source: Benign Prostate Disorders - Endotext - NCBI Bookshelf
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