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Beta-Sitosterol Plant Extract

Treatment Overview

Beta-sitosterol is one of many sterols that come from plants (phytosterols) and have a structure like the cholesterol produced in the body. You can find phytosterols in many plants and thus in foods such as rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils, soybeans, and peanuts. Beta-sitosterol is also available as a dietary supplement.

Why It Is Used

Some people find that taking beta-sitosterol relieves symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), but studies had mixed results. This supplement is also taken for other conditions, such as to lower cholesterol levels or to reduce the risk of some cancers, but more research is needed for these uses.footnote 1

Risks

Few problems have been reported among men taking beta-sitosterol for BPH. Some men may have problems with their stomach and digestion.

Men who have problems urinating should see a doctor to rule out prostate cancer or other diseases. Prostate cancer is treatable, but treatment may be more successful when you find and treat the cancer as early as possible.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicines. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works.

Always tell your doctor if you are using a dietary supplement or if you are thinking about combining a dietary supplement with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a dietary supplement. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

When using dietary supplements, keep in mind the following:

  • Like conventional medicines, dietary supplements may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions, or interact with prescription and nonprescription medicines or other supplements you might be taking. A side effect or interaction with another medicine or supplement may make other health conditions worse.
  • The way dietary supplements are manufactured may not be standardized. Because of this, how well they work or any side effects they cause may differ among brands or even within different lots of the same brand. The form of the supplement that you buy in health food or grocery stores may not be the same as the form used in research.
  • Other than for vitamins and minerals, the long-term effects of most dietary supplements are not known.

References

Citations

  1. Ulbricht CE (2015). An evidence-based systematic review of beta-sitosterol, sitosterol (22,23- dihydrostigmasterol, 24-ethylcholesterol) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 13(1): 35–92. Accessed July 26, 2021.

Credits

Current as of: March 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

Research Health Topics

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