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NCCIH Clinical Digest

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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Complementary and Integrative Approaches

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June 2016
Three older men sit in discussion

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Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can lead to obstructive and bothersome lower urinary tract symptoms. Prostate gland enlargement can block the flow of urine out of the bladder, which can cause bladder, urinary tract, or kidney problems. The use of some complementary health approaches such as phytotherapy for the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms is common. Although there is limited evidence that some phytotherapeutic agents may help improve symptoms related to BPH over the short term, most of the trials conducted have been small in size, of short duration, and used varied doses and preparations.

This issue of the Digest provides a summary of the current evidence of complementary health approaches that are frequently used for symptoms associated with BPH. 

Modality and Summary of Current Evidence

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.

Read more about the evidence base of acupuncture for BPH

Lycopene

There is insufficient evidence to support the use of lycopene for the prevention or treatment of BPH.

Read more about the evidence base of lycopene for BPH

Pygeum africanum

There is some limited evidence that Pygeum africanum may improve some symptoms of BPH over the short term, including urinary symptoms, flow parameters, spermogram, and quality of life. 

Read more about the evidence base of Pygeum africanum for BPH

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.

Read more about the evidence base of saw palmetto for BPH

Urtica dioica

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 a combination of Urtica dioica and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) may be efficacious for lower urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH.

Read more about the evidence base of Urtica dioica for BPH

Clinical Guidelines

Scientific Literature

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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.

Copyright

Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

This page last modified June 16, 2016