Symptoms of an enlarged prostate — known medically as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) — can range from a weak, slow urinary stream, to hesitancy and straining to urinate, to an inability to empty the bladder completely, to more serious complications including recurrent urinary tract infections and kidney damage.
If a man lives long enough, he will almost certainly experience some degree of BPH. Although 50%–60% of men with this condition may never develop any symptoms, BPH can make life miserable. The November issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch examines the safety and effectiveness of several herbs commonly used to reduce BPH symptoms and offers practical lifestyle tips that can ease living with this prostate problem.
Among herbal remedies, saw palmetto seems to be the most promising. One large analysis of studies done on this herb found that saw palmetto reduced nighttime urination by 25% and other bothersome complaints by 28% when compared to a placebo. Side effects reported were mild and did not differ significantly from problems that the men attributed to the placebos.
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