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Herbal Supplements for Prostate Enlargement: Current State of the Evidence

Published:October 26, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.urology.2017.10.021

      Objective

      To provide a comprehensive review of the current state of herbal supplement market for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and correlate the ingredients of each product with available scientific evidence.

      Materials and Methods

      Twenty-seven products from Amazon.com that were advertised as herbal supplements for LUTS and had listed their active ingredients were selected. Active ingredients were reviewed on Google Scholar. Product price, warranty, and consumer review information were also collected.

      Results

      A total of 58 unique active ingredients were identified. The mean number of ingredients was 8.26 (standard deviation 5.25). Whereas 17 (63%) products had an ingredient with a systematic review to support their use, 20 (74%) had an ingredient with conflicting evidence based on systematic reviews. Out of the supplements that contained ingredients supported by literature, all (100%) products simultaneously had other ingredients with no, conflicting, or refuting evidence. There was no (0%) product that contained only scientifically proven ingredients. There is no scientific study to evaluate these supplements as a whole.

      Conclusion

      Despite the widespread use of herbal supplements for LUTS, there is scant scientific evidence to support their safety and efficacy. Lack of adequate regulation and government support for research and development are some of the factors that disincentivize researchers to study safety and efficacy of these products. We encourage physicians to warn their patients on the lack of adequate evidence to support the safety and efficacy of many of these supplements.
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