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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Complementary and Integrative Approaches: What the Science Says

June 2016

Clinical Guidelines, Scientific Literature, Info for Patients: 
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Complementary and Integrative Approaches

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Acupuncture

Only a few studies have examined the effects of acupuncture on the symptoms of BPH, so there is insufficient evidence to determine whether acupuncture is beneficial for symptoms associated with this condition.

Lycopene

There isn’t sufficient evidence to support the use of lycopene for the prevention or treatment of BPH.

Pygeum africanum

Pygeum africanum, also known as the African Plum tree, is an evergreen tree native to the Central and South American mountains, the Madagascar and Comoros islands, and the Gulf of Guinea. Extracts from the bark of the tree have traditionally been used for inflammation, kidney diseases, urinary problems, prostate gland inflammation, and other uses. There is some limited evidence that Pygeum africanum may improve some symptoms of BPH, including urinary symptoms, flow parameters, spermogram, and quality of life.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)

Although several small studies have suggested modest benefit of saw palmetto for treating symptoms of BPH, a large study evaluating high doses of saw palmetto and a Cochrane review found that saw palmetto was not more effective than placebo for treatment of urinary symptoms related to BPH. A single randomized controlled trial showed combination therapy of saw palmetto plus lycopene, selenium, and tamsulosin was more effective than single therapies alone.

Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica, also known as stinging nettle, is a plant that grows in humid and temperate climates all over the world. The roots of Urtica dioica have been used for urination disorders associated with BPH, as well as for joint problems, as a diuretic, and as an astringent. There is some limited evidence that Urtica dioica may improve some symptoms of BPH, including lower urinary tract symptoms. There is also some limited evidence that Urtica dioica and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) may be efficacious for lower urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH.

NCCIH Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, DHHS. NCCIH Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCIH-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH Web site at nccih.nih.gov. NCCIH is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

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