Prostate supplements are used to help, maintain and improve the health of the prostate gland in men as they age. The prostate is a tiny muscular gland in the male reproductive system that makes most of the semen fluid. It surrounds the urethra and helps push semen through your penis as you climax.
Prostate supplements are most commonly used to treat benign prostate hypertrophy or BPH. BPH occurs when the prostate gland cells multiply (similar to cancer) which narrow the urethra causing all sorts of issues. It’s important to remember BPH and prostate cancer are not the same thing and don’t affect one another. However, BPH can be very inconvenient for many men.
The exact cause of BPH is unknown; however, changes in male sex hormones that come with aging may be a factor (1).
1Saw palmetto may help treat BPH, and its symptoms. A 2013 multicentric clinical pilot trial published in Physiotherapy Research had eighty-two patients take one capsule of 320 mg saw palmetto extract daily for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, it was concluded that saw palmetto decreased symptoms of BPH (2).
A year-long study found that saw palmetto was more effective than finasteride in treating excessive nighttime urination. It was less effective in treating other symptoms related to BPH (3).
A 2016 review only included trials with a special standardized extract of saw palmetto called Permixon. Permixon was effective in improving urinary symptoms of BPH compared to placebo (4).
However, some research seems to say that saw palmetto is ineffective at treating BPH.
A study in 100 men aged 45 and older found no difference in treating BPH after 72 weeks of saw palmetto (5).
Another study of 2,008 men found that 72 weeks of saw palmetto was no more effective than a placebo in the treatment of BPH (6).
2Saw palmetto may help treat lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). LUTS is a range of symptoms that include excessive nighttime urination (nocturia), incomplete bladder emptying or painful urination.
A 2014 study involving 225 patients showed that 12 months supplementation with a combination of saw palmetto along, lycopene, selenium, and tamsulosin (a drug commonly used to treat symptoms of BPH) was effective in the treatment of LUTS (7).
A study in 85 men with LUTS found that saw palmetto given over 24 weeks was more effective in improving symptoms than placebo (8).
Saw palmetto extract significantly decreased the number of nighttime urinations compared to a placebo and two other drugs used to treat excessive nighttime urination in 922 men with LUTS (9).
3Saw palmetto can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A study found that saw palmetto berry extract prevents prostate cancer growth by increasing p53 protein production (10).
Another study found that blocking 5-reductase saw palmetto extract is able to decrease the growth of prostate cancer cells (11).
However, a long-term study found no association between the consumption of saw palmetto and the risk of developing prostate cancer (12).
4Saw palmetto may improve sexual function. Saw palmetto has traditionally been used to treat erectile dysfunction and improve sexual function (13).
A pilot trial showed a significant increase in sexual function in 82 men aged 30 and older (14).
Note: This study was funded by the manufacturer of the brand of saw palmetto used (Prostasan).
Another study found no significant difference between saw palmetto and a placebo in treating sexual dysfunctions (15).
5Stinging nettle may be effective at improving the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. A review of several studies showed that stinging nettle extract is effective at improving the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, with a low risk of negative effects and toxicity (16).
In a study of 246 BPH patients, a special extract of stinging nettle was safe and effective in treating prostate enlargement when compared to placebo (17).
In another 6-month study of 558 people, stinging nettle was significantly better at improving prostate size and residual urinary volume (18).
Additionally, another study combined stinging nettle and saw palmetto extract. It was as effective as the prescription drug finasteride, which is used to treat enlarged prostates. It was also better tolerated (19).
A 2015 study on adult male rats found that stinging nettle root extract, when taken for six weeks, was able to prevent some of the effects of BPH (20).
6Chasteberry may help treat an enlarged prostate Enlargement occurs when cells of the prostate gland begin to multiply increasingly, eventually causing a noticeable size difference.
Prostate cancer can occur once the prostate gland cells begin to multiply out of control. In the lab, extracts of chasteberry reduced the growth of cells and even stimulated the death of prostate cells, indicating that chasteberry may be useful for the prevention and/or treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and human prostate cancer (21).
7Pygeum has anti-cancer cell benefits. In a study in mice, pygeum extract reduced the growth of two cancer cell lines and decreased the incidence of prostate cancer (22).
The blood of a man who had taken pygeum extract activated a set of genes that reduced the growth of two human cancer cell lines (23).
In a cell study (human prostate cancer cells), a compound isolated from pygeum bark (atraric acid) bound to their male sex hormone receptor and prevented its activation. As a result, the cells could neither grow nor invade other tissues (24).
8Pygeum can help bladder emptying and urine flow. According to a 2015 review published in the Canadian Journal of Urology, pygeum can help with urine flow (25).
In an open-label trial (both the patients and the researchers knew which treatment was being used) on 47 patients with long-term prostate inflammation, 42 were healed after taking pygeum extract (100 mg/day) for 5-7 weeks (26).
In another open-label study on 18 patients suffering from long-term prostate inflammation, intake of pygeum extract (200 mg/day) with or without antibiotics for 60 days improved all the urinary parameters measured (27).
The daily intake of a preparation combining the extracts of pygeum (15 g dry stem), saw palmetto (660 mg dry leaf), and hoary willowherb (500 mg dry herb), as well as different plant oils, reduced urination frequency for 3 months (28).
9Beta-sitosterol can improve the strength of urine flow. Beta-sitosterol is a mixture of cholesterol-like substances called sitosterols or phytosterols, taken from different plants. A 2013 review looked at 11 studies which concluded that beta-sitosterol can relieve urinary symptoms of BPH, including the strength of urine flow (29).
10Rye grass pollen extract can help with frequent nighttime urination. A review of herbal studies published in BJU International, involving 444 men, found that in one study, men who were taking rye grass pollen extract reported an improvement in their nighttime symptoms of getting up to urinate, compared to those who were taking a placebo (30).
11Green tea can improve urological health in men. A 2014 study found decreased inflammation, improved urine flow, and improvements in quality of life in as little as 6 weeks with men who had BPH (or were suspected too) supplemented with a 500-mg black and green tea mix (31).
12Watermelon seed tea can improve PSA levels. Watermelon seed tea is said to detox the system, improve bladder problems, and cleanse the kidneys. A small 2011 study introduced watermelon seed extraction on rats saw an improvement in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and BPH symptoms (32).
One rat study showed that hydroalcoholic or aqueous extract of red maca containing 0.1 mg of benzylglucosinolate can reduce prostate size in male rats (35).
A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Cancer concluded that glucosinolates (found in high amounts in red maca) are also associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer (36).
14Maca root may increase fertility in men. A 2015 study showed that maca possesses fertility enhancing properties in men – specifically sperm concentration and motility (37).
Another 2001 study showed that treatment with Maca resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculum, motile sperm count, and sperm motility. Serum hormone levels were not modified with maca treatment (38).
A 2016 review showed that maca improved semen quality in both infertile and healthy men (39).
15Lycopene may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. One study saw lycopene slow the progression of BPH in participants. Lycopene also helps lower the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) connected to prostate inflammation, BPH, and prostate cancer. Just make sure to include your lycopene-rich food with a fat rich food like avocado, nuts, oil or butter to enhance absorption (40).
16Pumpkin seeds may improve benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms. According to a 2014 study, both pumpkin seed oil and a combination of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil may improve benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms.
Researchers concluded that pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil are safe and effective alternative treatments for BPH (41).
A 2006 animal study published in Urologia Internationalis found that pumpkin seed oil could block certain types of prostate growth (42).
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in the mineral zinc (one cup provides almost half the RDA), and zinc is critical to normal prostate function. Results of a 2011 study showed that BPH or prostate carcinoma may be associated with a reduction in the levels of tissue zinc, plasma zinc, and an increase in urine zinc/creatinine (43).
1Reishi may ignite an overactive immune system. Although very rare, it may make some autoimmune conditions worse by activating/increasing the already overactive immune system.
2DIM may have an effect on the testes. According to one study, DIM had side effects on some sperm characteristics led to the histological degeneration of testicular tissues in male rats (44).
3Pygeum may cause IBS like effects in the body. Adverse side effects have been observed in some patients. Among them, the most common ones are those affecting the digestive system, such as constipation and diarrhea (45).
4Pygeum may affect the urinary tract. Pygeum has been shown to cause urine retention in some cases (46).
5Saw palmetto can cause death. More serious adverse events like death and brain hemorrhage were reported in isolated incidents, but their link with saw palmetto is highly questionable (47).
6Saw palmetto can cause organ inflammation. There have been two cases of pancreatic inflammation in individuals using saw palmetto (48).
In one patient, saw palmetto caused liver inflammation (49).
7Saw palmetto can damage organs. In another case report, acute liver damage was reported with the use of saw palmetto (50).
8Saw palmetto can affect blood clotting. One patient taking saw palmetto extract experienced significantly more blood loss than normal during surgery and reduced clotting of their blood (bleeding time). The patient’s clotting ability returned to normal after stopping treatment with the extract (51).
9Stinging nettle can change your blood sugar and pressure. Combining stinging nettle with hypertension and diabetes drugs may cause your blood pressure and blood sugar to become too low (52).
10Chasteberry used in limited amounts (not more than 1000 mg per day), tends to be very well-tolerated and there have not been many reported side effects. In rare cases, there have been reports of skin rashes and stomach discomfort.
11Chasteberry may interfere with drugs that affect dopamine levels (53). This would mainly apply to patients taking antipsychotic drugs and those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. These individuals should consult their doctor before taking chasteberry.
12Maca root can affect the thyroid. Maca contains goitrogens, substances that may interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland. These compounds are more likely to affect you if you already have impaired thyroid function.
13Maca can alter your DNA. Maca contains a compound that can mutate DNA (MTCA). Given this danger, maca has been warned against by certain food safety agencies. However, this is disputed by researchers who claim that MTCA is inactivated when it is boiled.
14Beta-sitosterol may cause early heart disease. Sitosterolemia is a rare inherited fat storage disease. People with this condition have too much beta-sitosterol and related fats in their system and are prone to early heart disease. Taking beta-sitosterol makes this condition worse.
15Beta-sitosterol can have a negative effect on libido. Beta-sitosterol has also been linked to reports of erectile dysfunction (ED) and loss of interest in sex.
16Green tea can affect sleep. Green tea contains only small amounts of caffeine, but may still cause problems sleeping for people sensitive to caffeine. This is due to the fact that chemical compounds in green tea prevent the release of hormones such as melatonin, which aid in sleep.
17Green tea can cause iron deficiency. Green tea contains antioxidants that hinder the iron absorption in the human body. A meta-analysis showed that this side effect could be particularly dangerous for people who suffer from anemia or other diseases where iron deficiency is present (54).
Pygeum taken 50 mg, 2x/day and 100 mg, 1x/day for up to 12 months were effective and safe. In most cases, the effects could be observed after 4-8 weeks.
A dosage of 450 mg of stinging nettle extract is associated with beneficial effects for Benign Prostate Hyperplasia.
For BPH, saw palmetto doses at 160 mg twice a day.
Which natural foods are best for BPH? A recent four-year study in China looked at the effects of diet on BPH symptoms. Researchers found that men with diets high in fruits and vegetables — especially leafy, dark vegetables and tomatoes — had less BPH, fewer symptoms of BPH, and were less likely to have worsening of their BPH. Researchers believe it’s not just one nutrient, but rather the combinations found in a healthful diet and lifestyle, that are beneficial (55).
What are the most effective prostate supplements? Saw Palmetto, Nettle root, and pygeum are the best prostate supplements.
Is coffee bad for your prostate? Drinking coffee and caffeine can make BPH urinary symptoms worse. There is no evidence that coffee consumption has an effect on prostate cancer, but some research shows that coffee intake may reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Can you still orgasm without your prostate? Yes, a man will have dry orgasms (some call it dry sex) because the prostate and seminal vesicles have been removed.
What are the 5 early warning signs of prostate cancer? Frequent, bloody or painful urination, difficulty controlling your bladder, erectile dysfunction, lower back, hips or pelvic pain and a decrease in semen ejaculated during sex.
What is a bad PSA level? According to the experts, PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL or lower are normal amongst healthy men. If it is higher, your doctor may recommend you take action. Before you start worrying, remember that high PSA levels do not always mean prostate cancer.
What foods irritate the prostate? Red meat, dairy and caffeine are among the top culprits. The medical community recommends that anyone with BPH symptoms avoid saturated fats and trans-fats.
Can you come without a prostate? If you’ve had a radical prostatectomy, you will no longer ejaculate when you orgasm. This is because the prostate and seminal vesicles, which make some of the fluid in semen, are both removed during the operation. Instead, you may have a dry orgasm – where you feel the sensation of an orgasm but don’t ejaculate.
Can you get hard after prostate removal? When you have a radical prostatectomy, you have surgery to remove your prostate gland. These nerves, blood vessels, and muscles may be weakened when you have surgery for your prostate cancer. For a period of time after surgery, many men are not able to get an erection. This time is different for each man.
Prostate supplements are a variety of clinically studied ingredients to help the prostate gland perform at peak function. Most supplements are designed to help treat BPH in older men.
There are a few side effects with some of the supplements, but many of them are side effect free for most people if they stay within the dosage. The FDA doesn’t regulate herbal remedies like it does prescription and over-the-counter drugs, so it’s important to always by top quality.
Some of the prostate supplements can interact with other medications you take. Check with your doctor before trying any natural supplement.