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This scientific research is for informational use only.

The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals.

Paquet provides this information as a service. This information should not be read to recommend or endorse any specific products.



Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common health issue [1] that affects 8% of all men at the age of 40, 60% of men in their 70s, and 90% of those greater than 80 years of age. One-fourth of these men will develop moderate to severe lower urinary tract symptoms that greatly affect their quality of life.

  • BPH and associated LUTS are common disorders [2] in aging men. Plant extracts are widely used in the treatment of BPH and related LUTS. In fact, SPE has been widely used as a therapeutic remedy for BPH in Europe. In the United States and Japan, SPE is not a prescribed medication; however, it has received attention from patients with BPH. It is suggested that SPE has various pharmacological mechanisms.

Saw palmetto extract (SPE), an extract from the ripe berries of the American dwarf palm, has been widely used as a therapeutic remedy for urinary dysfunction due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in Europe.

Lycopene, a naturally occurring red [3] carotenoid pigment found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, guava, and other fruits, has been extensively studied for more than 70 years, with more than 2000 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and 4000 other publications (scientific and otherwise) written on the subject. Most of these articles have focused on lycopene derived from tomatoes

Plants of the genus Allium [4] are known for their production of organosulfur compounds, which possess interesting biological and pharmacological properties. Among these, garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the most widely used ones. When extracted and isolated, these compounds exhibit a broad spectrum of beneficial effects against microbial infections as well as cardioprotective, anti-cancerogenic, and anti-inflammatory activity [5,6,7,8].

Areas Of Scientific Research


Throughout the past two decades, substantial literature [9] has emerged examining the biologic and clinical effects of saw palmetto extracts. Several lines of evidence suggest that saw palmetto may exert physiologic effects consistent with a beneficial clinical effect on the mechanisms of BPH. Although most clinical studies tend to suggest a modest efficacy benefit of saw palmetto, more recent studies are less consistent and the precise clinical value of saw palmetto for treating lower urinary tract symptoms remains undefined.

In this year-long randomized trial [10], we found that saw palmetto was not superior to placebo for improving urinary symptoms and objective measures of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Recent evidence suggests [11,12] that the use of saw palmetto leads to improvements in urinary function for those suffering from BPH. The favorable comparison of saw palmetto with tamsulosin, a well known first-line agent in the treatment of urinary tract symptoms, demonstrates promise towards a beneficial effect of this herbal agent, with very few, if any, adverse effects.

  • SPE at clinically relevant doses may exert a direct effect [13] on the pharmacological receptors in the lower urinary tract, thereby improving urinary dysfunction in patients with BPH and an overactive bladder.
  • However, what degree of this beneficial activity is due to placebo effects is yet to be determined. In addition, the precise mechanism of action of saw palmetto in men with BPH remains unclear.


Lycopene (Ly), a dietary carotenoid synthesized by plants, fruits [14], and microorganisms with strong antioxidant activity, has been shown to exert beneficial effects in prostate disease and increase its therapeutic activity in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) through its enhanced anti-inflammatory activity.

Of the diseases studied in relation to lycopene [15], prostate cancer is one of the most well-researched. In addition to prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the age-related non-cancerous overgrowth of the prostate gland, also negatively affects men’s health. Collectively, these studies suggest that the consumption of lycopene or lycopene-containing foods reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer.

The FDA concluded that there [17] is “no credible evidence to support an association between lycopene intake and a reduced risk of prostate, lung, colorectal, gastric, breast, ovarian, endometrial or pancreatic cancer,” but the FDA found “very limited evidence to support an association between tomato consumption and reduced risks of prostate, ovarian, gastric, and pancreatic cancers” (Kavanaugh et al. 2007).


Owing to these effects, garlic and its preparations have been used for the relief of BPH symptoms for decades.


Considering that recent clinical trials, which were relatively large and well-controlled, did not demonstrate the superiority of SPE to placebo, the clinical potency of SPE has been questioned. However, the facts that several clinical studies showed the superiority of SPE over placebo and its comparability to prescribed medications and that many patients appear to reap benefits from SPE should be considered.