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Dispute arises over herb's effectiveness.

NEW YORK -- A recently published study concluding that the herb saw palmetto does nothing more to relieve enlarged prostates in men than a placebo has raised the ire of nutritional supplement advocates.

"This was a well-designed, well-executed clinical trial but the results should not dissuade men experiencing urinary tract symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate gland (BPH) from considering saw palmetto as an option for reducing those symptoms," Council for Responsible Nutrition vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs Duffy MacKay says about the study that was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the September 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"In this study, both the placebo group and the treatment group saw improvements in their symptoms, creating some limitations for interpreting results," he notes. "Although there is no clear explanation as to why the placebo group showed some improvement without intervention, it is possible that both groups may have included men whose urinary tract symptoms were not actually related to an enlarged prostate."

In addition, MacKay says he feels the trial might not have been large enough or long enough to have found a statistically significant benefit in the treatment group.

"With these potential limitations in mind, there are other practical things for men to consider about saw palmetto," he says.

Prostate enlargement, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), can cause frequent urination, a weak or intermittent urine stream and an inability to empty the bladder completely.

NIH says that more than half of men in their 60s, and up to 90% of those in their 70s and 80s, have symptoms of BPH.

Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), one of three NIH groups that did the study, the trial of 369 men over the age of 45 met an important need for rigorous evaluation of standard and higher doses of saw palmetto.

The trial, they note, confirmed an earlier study that found that a standard daily dose of 320 milligrams provided no greater symptom relief than placebo.

"The NIH is committed to banging rigorous science to the study of natural products and to building the evidence base that can guide consumer decisions," says Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


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Comment:Dispute arises over herb's effectiveness.(MERCHANDISING/VITAMINS & NUTRITION)
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 24, 2011
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