- What other names is Beta-sitosterol known by?
- What is Beta-sitosterol?
- How does Beta-sitosterol work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there any interactions with medications?
- Dosing considerations for Beta-sitosterol.
Beta-sitosterol is used for heart disease and high cholesterol. It is also used for boosting the immune system and for preventing colon cancer, as well as for gallstones, the common cold, the flu (influenza), swine flu, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, psoriasis, allergies, cervical cancer, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), asthma, hair loss, bronchitis, migraine headache, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some men use beta-sitosterol for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Some women use it for symptoms of menopause.
It is also used for enhancing sexual activity.
Marathon runners sometimes use beta-sitosterol to reduce pain and swelling after a run.
Some people apply beta-sitosterol to the skin for treating wounds and burns.
In foods, beta-sitosterol is added to some margarines (Take Control, for example) that are designed for use as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet and for preventing heart disease. The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows manufacturers to claim that foods containing plant sterol esters such as beta-sitosterol are for reducing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). This rule is based on the FDA's conclusion that plant sterol esters may reduce the risk of CHD by lowering blood cholesterol levels. Although there is plenty of evidence that beta-sitosterol does lower cholesterol levels, there is no proof that long-term use actually lowers the risk of developing CHD.
Don't confuse beta-sitosterol with sitostanol, a similar substance contained in the product called Benecol. Both sitostanol and beta-sitosterol are used for lowering cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol and appear to be equally effective.
Likely Effective for...
- Trouble urinating because of an enlarged prostate, or "benign prostatic hyperplasia" (BPH). Taking 60-130 mg of beta-sitosterol by mouth daily helps improve symptoms of BPH, but it does not actually shrink an enlarged prostate. Taking beta-sitosterol in much lower doses does not improve symptoms.
- High cholesterol. Taking beta-sitosterol by mouth, alone or along with soy or cholestyramine, can lower total and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, but it does not raise "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Possibly Effective for...
- Reducing cholesterol levels in people with an inherited tendency toward high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia). Taking beta-sitosterol by mouth is possibly effective for reducing total and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in children and adults with familial hypercholesterolemia who are also following a low fat and cholesterol-lowering diet. But beta-sitosterol does not appear to work as well as sitostanol or the cholesterol-lowering medication bezafibrate.
Possibly Ineffective for...
- Tuberculosis. Taking beta-sitosterol by mouth along with conventional treatment for tuberculosis does not shorten the time it takes to cure tuberculosis.
Likely Ineffective for...
- Gallstones. Taking beta-sitosterol by mouth does not help treat gallstones.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Baldness. Some men report that taking beta-sitosterol plus saw palmetto twice daily helps them grow more and better hair.
- Burns. Early research shows that treating second degree burns with a specific ointment (MEBO) containing sesame oil, beta-sitosterol, berberine, and other plant ingredients works about as well as conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazine and better than conventional treatment with povidone iodine plus bepanthenol cream at helping burns heal and preventing infections. However, this ointment does not work as well as a dressing containing silver for healing second degree burns on the face.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Early research shows that taking a specific mixture of beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterol glucoside (Moducare) improves pain and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in some patients.
- Cervical cancer.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Preventing colon cancer.
- Prostate infections.
- Sexual performance problems.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
- Other conditions.
Quick GuideEnlarged Prostate (BPH) Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. Beta-sitosterol has also been linked to reports of erectile dysfunction (ED), loss of interest in sex, and worsened acne.
Beta-sitosterol is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of beta-sitosterol during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Sitosterolemia, a rare inherited fat storage disease: People with this condition have too much beta-sitosterol and related fats in their blood and tissues. They are prone to early heart disease. Taking beta-sitosterol makes this condition worse. Don't take beta-sitosterol if you have sitosterolemia.
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Taking ezetimibe (Zetia) can reduce of amount of beta-sitosterol the body absorbs. This might decrease the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol.
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Taking pravastatin (Pravachol) might decrease how much beta-sitosterol is in the body. This might decrease the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol.
- For benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): 60-130 mg of beta-sitosterol divided into 2-3 doses daily has been used.
- For high cholesterol: 0.65-1.5 grams of beta-sitosterol has been taken twice daily. Beta-sitosterol is usually taken along with a low-fat diet. A combination product containing 2.5 grams of beta-sitosterol and 8 grams of cholestyramine has also been taken daily for 12 weeks. Another combination product containing 8 grams of soy protein and 2 grams of beta-sitosterol has been used daily for 40 days.
- For reducing cholesterol levels in adults with an inherited tendency toward high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia): 2.5-21.1 grams of beta-sitosterol has been taken daily in divided doses, usually before meals. Some research suggests that beta-sitosterol is most effective when taken at a dose of 6 grams daily. Higher doses don't seem to work better.
- For reducing cholesterol levels in children with an inherited tendency toward high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia): 2-4 grams of beta-sitosterol taken 3 times daily for 3 months has been used in children and teenagers. Also 1 gram of beta-sitosterol has been taken 3 times daily in combination with the medication bezafibrate for 24 months.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011