Beta-Sitosterol - Source and Benefits.
Tradition, wisely passed down from one generation to another, tells us that pumpkin seeds were commonly eaten to support male reproductive health. For centuries, saw palmetto berries and the African pygeum, stinging nettle, rye pollen and star grass were used by ancient sages to treat men suffering from prostate and urogenital problems. Centuries later, scientific research has reaffirmed these properties.
Beta-sitosterol is a micro-nutrient, plant fat scientifically known as phytosterols. Beta-sitosterol is found in the cell and cell membranes of oil-producing plants. In a natural state, sterols are bound to its plant fiber and therefore, difficult for the body to absorb during the digestion process. Beta-sitosterol is similar in chemical structure to cholesterol but both have totally different biological functions.
In 1922, plant sterols were described chemically for the first time. It was found that pumpkin seeds contained a phytosterol called beta-sitosterol. In the 1950s it was discovered that phytosterols play a role in lowering levels of cholesterol in the body by reducing their absorption in the intestine. Newsweek carried an article, in its April 25, 1954 issue, highlighting the effectiveness of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) as natural wonders in supporting health and in treating certain health disorders. Today margarines and cereals are fortified with beta-sitosterol, in an effort to control cholesterol levels by natural means. Beta-sitosterol has been studied extensively in various clinical trials and has no known side effects or toxicity.
Besides pumpkin seeds, beta-sitosterol is naturally found in foods like rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils, soybeans, pecans, and peanuts. Dietary beta-sitosterols are usually obtained from saw palmetto which contains a high amount of beta-sitosterol.
A large amount of scientific research suggests the effective use of beta-sitosterol in lowering levels of cholesterol, as an alternate approach to the conventional prescription of statin. Research also indicates its use in relieving symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In fact, doctors in Europe have been prescribing beta-sitosterol to patients suffering from BPH for decades. In the United States, beta-sitosterol supplements comes under the restrictions of dietary supplements but is increasingly becoming the educated choice of many men who are at risk for prostate disorders.
Statistics show that 60% of men over 40 and as high as 75% of men over 50 are at higher risk for prostate disorders. Race and heredity also play an important factor. Reports show that African American men are more likely to suffer from prostate disease than their Caucasian counterparts, as are men who have a history of this disease in their family.
Prostate disorders are caused by the increase in the size of the prostate gland. This increase is due to hormonal factors and is a natural process of aging. The male hormone, testosterone, undergoes changes as men approach their 40s. There is an increase in the enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which starts converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a powerful androgen and causes the prostate cells to drastically multiply and enlarge, thus resulting in an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Urological complications occur when the prostate gland grows so big that it begins to put pressure on the urethra. BPH can lead to impotence and urogenital problems.
Demographic studies indicate that prostate gland disorders are more prevalent among men who follow "western" dietary patterns, as compared to Asians, where only about 5% of the men suffer from prostate disorders. These studies indicate that prostate disease may be linked to dietary patterns. A diet consisting of red meat, saturated fat, low fiber, and less fruits and vegetables is likely to contribute to prostate gland illnesses, as against an Asian diet which consists of vegetables, beans, grains and less meat. Such studies strongly suggest that prostate gland disorders may be linked to nutrition. Numerous studies indicate that nutritional support through beta-sitosterol significantly alleviates symptoms associated with prostate disorders and may also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Nutritional support should begin early. BPH is a slow progressing disease and actual growth may begin in men in their early 30s without any symptoms showing. By the time symptoms are noticed the prostate gland has considerably increased in size.
Research indicates that beta-sitosterol:
- Can nutritionally support prostate health.1,2,3,4
- Can help to inhibit the activity of 5-alpha-reductase production of the androgen and reduce the likelihood of DHT formation.5, 6.7
- Can help reduce the risk of urinary problems.
Beta-sitosterol cannot be produced by the body, and has to be gained through dietary means. Super Beta Prostate contains beta-sitosterol to help nutritionally support a healthy prostate, urinary tract, bladder and sexual functioning.
- Wilt TJ, Mac Donald R, Ishani A. Beta-sitosterol for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review. BMU Int. 1999; 83:976-983.
- British Journal of Urology (vol. 80, p.427-32, 1997).
- Lancet (vol. 345, p. 1529-1532, 1995) Berges, R.
- European Urology (vol. 21, p. 309-24, 1992)
- Minerva Urologica e Nefrologica (vol. 37, p. 87-91, 1985) Tasca, A.
- British Journal of Urology (vol. 78, p. 325-36, 1996).
- European Urology, (vol. 26, p. 247-52, 1994) Strauch, G.
- Beta-Sitosterol activates the sphingomyelin cycle and induces apoptosis in LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. Nutr Cancer. 1998;32(1):8-12. PMID: 9824850