Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH): CAM
Therapies for Specific Conditions
- Saw palmetto, an herb, may artificially decrease PSA
(prostate specific antigen) levels. A baseline PSA is suggested prior to using
saw palmetto. Inform your doctor if you are using it, since it may give false
readings on a PSA test. Saw palmetto is commonly used to control benign
prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or enlargement of the prostate. Several studies
have been done that indicate the herb is effective for reducing swelling of the
prostate, frequent nighttime urination, and residual urine in the bladder. It
is particularly helpful for men over fifty years old. Typical preparation and
dose is in 160 mg doses taken two times per day for a total of 320 mg of
standard liposterolic extract. Supplements should be standardized to contain 85
percent to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols. Side effects are relatively
uncommon but may include mild abdominal discomfort, nausea, dizziness,
headache, and rarely male breast enlargement. Lower the dose or stop taking saw
palmetto if these side effects occur.
- A 1998 study in the special CAM issue of
the Journal of the American Medical Association found that saw palmetto improved urinary
flow in men with BPH. There are eighteen studies involving 2,939 men
demonstrating that saw palmetto is as effective as the most frequent drug, Proscar,
with fewer side effects.
- Naturopathic medicine is used to control prostatic
hypertrophy. Among the two approaches most commonly applied are herbal
medicines and nutritional supplements. Studies support both approaches.
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BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier,
Reprinted by permission of Simon &
Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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