08 July, 2011
Can Zinc & Saw Palmetto Shrink the Prostate Gland?
Enlargement of prostate, also known and benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH, is a common health problem in men over 40 years old, and by the age of 80, approximately 90 percent of the men have this condition, according to the National Institute of Health. Saw palmetto may help to reduce the size of the prostate, while supplementation with zinc is controversial. Talk to your doctor before starting to take supplements for your condition.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, or AAFP, Saw palmetto appears to be as effective as the conventional drug finasteride, but better tolerated and less expensive. Finasteride is a drug used in the treatment of BPH that increases the level of testosterone, and testosterone is responsible for decreasing the size of the prostate. In a March 2003 issue of the AAFP journal, Andrea Gordon, MD, provides a summary of clinical research that supports the efficacy of saw palmetto for decreasing the symptoms and the size of the prostate. Gordon concluded that this herb is safe and an effective treatment for benign prostate enlargement.
A limited amount of research supports the benefits of zinc supplementation for an enlarged prostate. Joseph Marion, author of “Anti-Aging Manual: The Encyclopedia of Natural Health,” indicates that the prostate gland contains 10 times more zinc than any other organ. He further states that the amount of this mineral in the body decreases over time, and that many men over 50 are deficient in zinc. Because of the correlation between zinc deficiency and prostate enlargement, Marion recommends zinc supplementation to decrease the size of the enlarged prostate.
On the other hand, other recent studies such as the research published in the July 2009 issue of “Biometals “ by A. Sapota found that individuals with prostate cancer and infections of the prostate may be deficient in zinc, while men with BPH actually have higher levels of zinc then healthy men. Another study found in the September 2007 of “Investigacion Clinica,” conducted by a Spanish team, provided similar conclusions.
The daily dose of saw palmetto for BPH is around 320 mgs of saw palmetto berries. Until further research supports the benefit of zinc in shrinking the prostate, supplementation with this mineral should be reserved for individuals who are deficient in zinc. Do not exceed 100 mgs of zinc daily, as higher amounts may depress the immune system.
There is a significant amount of evidence that saw palmetto may help shrink the prostate, however the benefits of the mineral zinc for the same condition is controversial. Consult a physician to find out if you may benefit from supplements for BPH, as well as possible side effects and drug interactions.
- NIH: Enlarged Prostate
- American Family Physician: Saw Palmetto for Prostate Disorders
- "Anti-Aging Manual: The Encyclopedia of Natural Health"; Joseph B. Marion; 2003
- PubMed.gov: Disturbed homeostasis of zinc and other essential elements in the prostate gland dependent on the character of pathological lesions.
- PubMed.gov: [Zinc levels in prostatic fluid of patients with prostate pathologies].
- Palmetto Frond image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com