Herbal Supplements in the Treatment of BPH

Herbal therapy for BPH, also known as complementary medicine, has been promoted as an alternative to traditional BPH therapies. Because most of these therapies are promoted as natural over-the-counter remedies, they are often seen as a low-risk option.

Following are some considerations to make as you decide whether an herbal remedy is right for your particular condition:

  • The purity and content of these therapies are not strictly regulated, leaving room for additives or other impurities that can compromise the product.1
  • The effectiveness of these therapies appears to be limited at best. For example, a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine found one of the most popular herbal therapies, saw palmetto, was no better than placebo (sugar pill) for improving BPH symptoms.2
  • Ineffective therapy may delay finding an appropriate therapy for your particular condition. This may allow for a progression of your BPH.
  • Taking herbal supplements for the symptoms of BPH, even if they seem to work, should not prevent you from seeing a urologist. Untreated BPH can lead to increasingly severe symptoms and the possibility of bladder problems. An enlarged prostate can also be a sign of something more severe such as prostate cancer. Please see a urologist at the first signs of BPH.

The availability of natural remedies shows us that there are many possible treatment options for BPH, but, in the end, the best course of action is to speak to your urologist about what is best for you. The progression of BPH is not predictable, and as such, regular consultations with a urologist are imperative.

1AUA Guidelines on the Management of BPH 2010

2Bent S, Kane C, et al. Saw Palmetto for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. The New England Journal of Medicine; Vol. 354, No. 6, February 9, 2006