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5 Tips: What You Should Know About Complementary Health Approaches for BPH

Benign prostatic hyperplasia—also called BPH—is a condition in which the prostate gland is enlarged but not cancerous. It’s the most common prostate problem for men over 50. As the prostate enlarges, it presses against and pinches the urethra (the tube that takes urine away from the bladder). This can cause symptoms such as a frequent and urgent need to urinate, especially at night, or trouble starting to urinate.

Treatment options for BPH generally include lifestyle changes, medications, minimally invasive procedures, or surgery. Several dietary supplements and other complementary health approaches have also been studied for BPH. If you’re considering a complementary health approach for BPH symptoms, here are 5 things you should know:

  1. Several studies have suggested that the herb saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) may have modest benefits for urinary symptoms associated with BPH, and some recent evidence suggests its benefits might be comparable to those of one type of drug therapy. However, in other studies, saw palmetto was no more effective than a placebo (an inactive substance), even when given at higher-than-usual doses.

  2. There is some limited evidence that Urtica dioica (stinging nettle), alone or in combination with saw palmetto, and Pygeum africanum (African plum tree) may improve some symptoms of BPH. 

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

  4. There’s limited evidence that acupuncture may have short-term benefits for BPH symptoms, but longer and more rigorous studies are needed before definite conclusions can be drawn.

  5. Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.