(NaturalNews) A comprehensive review of the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) show that when nettle root extract (NRE) is compared head-to-head with the standard drugs used to treat benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), NRE is as or more effective, while consistently yielding fewer side effects. RCTs are regarded to produce the highest level of evidence for or against a particular intervention.
The standard clinical approach is to use drugs to block the activity of androgens (male sex hormones). NRE's anti-prostatic effect seems to work differently. The minor androgen blocking effect of NRE is very far down the line from its major anti-proliferative and androgen enhancing effects. NRE also exhibits anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory effects, which explains its use for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. All of NRE's active ingredients remain to be identified and its full mechanism of actions still remains unclear.
One particularly large and compelling trial compared the efficacy and safety of a frontline synthetic drug used to treat BPH to a combination of saw palmetto and nettle root extracts. The trial initially enrolled 543 subjects and the major outcomes were measured at 24 and 48 weeks. The main outcomes that were measured included maximum urinary flow rate and the International Prostate Symptoms Score (IPSS). The IPSS is a questionnaire that rates the degree of negative impacts on urination (voiding) caused by prostate inflammation as well as on quality of life.
At the end of the trial, both groups showed improvements in the measured outcomes and there was no significant difference between the groups. What is more, a sub-group analysis showed that these results were consistent regardless of prostate size at baseline. Differences emerged upon safety analysis, which showed that patients in the drug group experienced more adverse events during the trial compared to the subjects receiving the combination of plant extracts. Other trials confirm that the risk for adverse events during nettle root therapy is very low, as is its toxicity.
The results of the trial compelled the researchers to suggest that: "As [saw palmetto/nettle root extract] was better tolerated, it might be preferable to treat patients with early BPH by phytotherapy as a first choice."
Sources: 1. Chrubasik, J., B. Roufogalis, H. Wagner, and S. Chrubasik. "A Comprehensive Review on Nettle Effect and Efficacy Profiles, Part I: Herba Urticae." Phytomedicine 14.6 (2007): 423-35. 2. Chrubasik, Julia E., Basil D. Roufogalis, Hildebert Wagner, and Sigrun Chrubasik. "A Comprehensive Review on the Stinging Nettle Effect and Efficacy Profiles. Part II: Urticae Radix." Phytomedicine 14.7-8 (2007): 568-79. 3. Sokeland, J. "Combined Sabal and Urtica Extract Compared with Finasteride in Men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Analysis of Prostate Volume and Therapeutic Outcome." BJU International 86.4 (2000): 439-42.