Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the most frequent reason for urinary problems in elderly men is also the main reason to cause sexual dysfunctions in this patient group. A new study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research showed for the first time that a saw palmetto preparation (Prostasan) lead to an improvement of urinary and sexual dysfunction symptoms.
Led by Dr. Eugen Riedi, MD, a urologist in Chur, Switzerland, the research team showed that after a duration of eight weeks, the urinary symptoms improved by more than 50 percent and sexual problems like erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory problems or lack of sexual drive by about 40 percent.
Existing standard pharmaceutical therapies for BPH symptoms like alpha-blocking agents or 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are known to cause further sexual dysfunctions. Thus, men seek therapies that improve BPH symptoms and occurring sexual problems as well.
“This is one of the first therapies ever to show an improvement of BPH symptoms and of sexual dysfunctions at the same time. Furthermore the treatment was very well tolerated, cost effective and patient’s compliance was excellent,” notes Dr. Eugen Riedi.
Commenting on the trial, Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC), an herb research and education organization, said, “This preliminary research is highly interesting as it is the first clinical study suggesting that patients with BPH and corresponding sexual problems may benefit from both conditions by using saw palmetto. The positive urinary results are consistent with many previous clinical trials on saw palmetto preparations. The sexual results are promising and should be confirmed by future, larger studies using a controlled design.” (Bioforce AG recently received ABC’s Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award for its commitment to clinical research on its herbal preparations.)
The authors of the study emphasize that with respect to the adverse side effects of the synthetic standard medications frequently prescribed to men with BPH, these are very promising results for patients seeking a well-tolerated, efficacious and cost-effective solution as shown in this trial for the clinically researched product, Prostasan.
A total of of 82 patients with at least moderate BPH symptoms (both obstructive and irritative) and sexual problems (like erectile dysfunctions or lack of libido) for at least two months were recruited from two urological and four general practices in Switzerland to participate in this trial.
For eight weeks patients took one capsule daily containing 320 mg of the saw palmetto berry extract (Prostasan, producer A.Vogel Bioforce AG, Roggwil, Switzerland). At the beginning and end of the treatment, BPH symptoms were assessed using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and sexual dysfunctions were evaluated with the brief Sexual Function Inventory (bSFI) and the Urolife BPH Quality of Life-9 questionnaire.
In the end, the IPSS was reduced highly significantly by 51 percent and the bSFI, which measured sexual drive, erectile function, ejaculatory function, problem assessment and satisfactions, improved by a total average of 40 percent. An improvement of 36 percent was observed with the Urolife Score, which assesses sexual drive, erections and sexual satisfactions.
The saw palmetto preparation was shown to be quite safe and well tolerated. Both the patients and the clinical investigators assessed the saw palmetto regimen in the majority of men as very efficacious. The majority of the patients experienced the most beneficial effects on both libido and erectile function, and 90 percent of the patients stated that they would take the saw palmetto extract again.
Source: Suter A, Saller R, Riedi E, Heinrich M. Improving BPH symptoms and sexual dysfunctions with a saw palmetto preparation? Results from a pilot trial. Phytother Res. 2012 Apr 23. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4696. [Published online ahead of print]