Beta-sitosterol is a substance found in plants. Chemists call it a "plant sterol ester." It is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It is used to make medicine.
Beta-sitosterol is most commonly used for lowering cholesterol levels and improving symptoms of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). It is also used for other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support its other uses.
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.
Beta-sitosterol is a plant substance similar to cholesterol. It might help reduce cholesterol levels by limiting the amount of cholesterol that is able to enter the body. It can also help reduce swelling (inflammation) in the prostate and other tissues.
When taken by mouth: Beta-sitosterol is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth. It can cause some mild side effects, such as nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. Less commonly, beta-sitosterol has been linked to reports of erectile dysfunction (ED), loss of interest in sex, and worsened acne.
When applied to the skin: Beta-sitosterol is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if beta-sitosterol is safe to use when pregnant or 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.
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 watchful with this combination.
Taking pravastatin (Pravachol) might decrease how much beta-sitosterol is in the body. This might decrease the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol.
Carotene: Beta-sitosterol may reduce the amount of carotene that enters the body.
Vitamin E: Beta-sitosterol may reduce the amount of vitamin E that enters the body.
Carotenoid-containing foods: Beta-sitosterol may reduce the amount of carotene that enters the body.
Vitamin E-containing foods: Beta-sitosterol may reduce the amount of vitamin E that enters the body.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or 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 inherited tendency towards 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 inherited tendency towards 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.
B-Sitosterol 3-B-D-glucoside, B-Sitosterolin, Beta Sitosterin, Bêta-sitostérine, Beta Sitosterol, Bêta-Sitostérol, Beta-Sitosterol Glucoside, Beta-Sitosterol Glycoside, Cinchol, Cupreol, Glucoside de Bêta-Sitostérol, Quebrachol, Rhamnol, Sitosterin, Sitosterol, 3-beta-stigmast-5-en-3-ol, 22-23-dihydrostigmasterol, 24-beta-ethyl-delta-5-cholesten-3beta-ol, 24-ethyl-cholesterol.
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