Do BPH Supplements Work for Treating Enlarged Prostate?

Man takes a supplement in hopes it will help with his Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, but men's health specialists Dr. Akash Kapadia cautions that supplements are not FDA approved or regulated

Benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH is a prevalent condition that affects about 50% of men over 50 and 80% of men over 80. As we get older, there is a tendency for the prostate to grow. This, in turn, puts pressure on the urethra and can cause Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms or LUTS. Many men spend years living with the consequences of BPH, which can include frequent trips to the bathroom, urgency, and even embarrassing leaks. However, this does not have to be the norm. Today, we have more BPH treatments than ever before, including minimally invasive in-office BPH procedures and effective BPH surgeries.

While we look to treat BPH in a stepwise manner, patients will often have tried several potential therapies before visiting their urologist. One such therapy is supplementation; you may have seen Saw Palmetto, for example, marketed as an effective BPH treatment option.

More About Natural Supplements

Supplements are a tricky subject to tackle. On the one hand, there’s no doubt that nutritional deficiencies and even some medical conditions can be treated with supplementation. We have anecdotal evidence from some patients that saw palmetto had improved urine flow and lower urinary tract symptoms. However, there are no well-made clinical studies to support these assertions, and some of these results can be attributed to the placebo effect. The power of wishful and positive thinking is impressive!

On the other hand, however, supplements are not evaluated by the FDA, and therefore there is far less oversight than, for example, prescription drugs. This means that the products on the market may not be fully vetted, may be impure, or even tainted.

With that said, we do not actively discourage our patients from trying certain supplements like saw palmetto, as it typically doesn’t have severe side effects. However, we forewarn our patients that it may well be a waste of money, and as a result, they may live with symptoms for longer than they should.

How We Treat BPH

From a men’s health standpoint, we like to take a stepped approach to our care. We may start patients on medications to allow for better urinary flow. A common medication you may know of is Flomax. However, we now have newer, minimally invasive, in-office BPH technologies available to many men (Rezum). These can effectively treat prostatic enlargement for upwards of five years, with minimal pain and discomfort and virtually no recovery needed. For those that do not respond to more conservative care, there is always a transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP, which involves mechanically shaving away excess prostatic tissue as part of a surgical procedure. TURPs can last up to 7 years or longer.

The best way to understand your options is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kapadia to learn more. It is essential that you address BPH early to give yourself the most treatment options and spend as little time worried about urinary tract symptoms as possible. We look forward to seeing you have a consultation with Dr. Kapadia and helping you improve your quality of life through advanced BPH treatment.