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Beta-sitosterol: In 1995, a study was published in Lancet, the well-known British medical journal, evaluating the role of beta-sitosterol in the therapy of prostate enlargement. Beta-sitosterol is a plant-derived sterol, also known as a phytosterol. Although the active substance in this study was beta-sitosterol, the actual product used was called Harzol, trademarked by the German pharmaceutical company Hoyer GmbH & Co, headquartered in Neuss. Harzol is standardized to contain 10 mg of beta-sitosterol along with a mixture of phytosterols, including campesterol, and stigmasterol. SP contains a variety of phytosterols including beta-sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol. A number of other herbs are also known to contain these, and other, phytosterols.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 200 patients with symptoms of BPH were given two of these pills three times a day and were compared to a group that received a placebo. The study lasted 6 months and was done at the Department of Urology and Biostatistics, Ruhr-University, in Bochum, Germany. Treatment with beta-sitosterol resulted in better urine flow and a decrease in residual urine in the bladder. There was no decrease in the size of the prostate gland. The researchers concluded, "Significant improvements in symptoms and urinary flow parameters show the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia." This study was sponsored by Hoyer.
Harzol has been tested in Europe since the early 1980s. Back in 1982. 23 patients had an ultrasound of their prostate gland before and after a two-month treatment with this medicine. Therapy with Harzol was effective in changing the echo structure of the prostate gland. The researchers interpreted this as a reduction in swelling within the prostate gland.
Beta-sitosterol has other interesting functions and effects on the human body. When human colon cancer cells were supplemented with beta-sitosterol, growth inhibition occurred. This is a good sign since uncontrolled growth is a marker for cancer formation. Long-term studies will need to be conducted on humans in order to know for sure how beta-sitosterol and other phytosterols influence a variety of tissues.
Beta-sitosterol is added to some SP products at a dose of 5 to 25 mg.

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