A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food titled, "Efficacy and Safety of a Flaxseed Hull Extract in the Symptomatic Management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Parallel, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Pilot Study," reveals that men who consumed an extract of flaxseed for swollen prostate (i.e. benign prostatic hyperplasia) saw significant improvement.
According to the study, The American Urology Association (AUA) Guideline, 2010, defines benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) as proliferation of smooth muscles and epithelial cells within the prostatic transition zone. The typical symptoms include:
Nocturia (abnormal frequency of night time urination)
Decreased and intermittent force of stream
Sensation of incomplete bladder emptying.
BPH is one of the most widespread health conditions faced by men today, with the incidence rising to nearly 50% of the male population by the eighth decade of their lives. Moreover, countries like China and India are now seeing an exponential increase in BPH diagnoses as they increasingly adopt the Western diet, lifestyle, and medical system.
Current approaches include side effect heavy pharmaceuticals such as alpha adrenergic blockers and 5 a-reductase inhibitors, as well "gold standard" surgical procedures such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), which so consistently produces surgery related impairments that there is an entire syndrome named after these side effects, namely, Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) Syndrome.
The human cost in both financial and existential terms is immense. This is why interest in safe, natural, affordable and effective alternatives is growing, and why the researchers felt compelled to test the hypothesis that eating flaxseed might provide an ideal alternative approach.
In the randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled study, three groups of men, aged 45-75, with newly diagnosed BPH and an American Urological Association Symptom Index (AUASI) score of ‡ 13 , were given either a placebo, or a low or high dose of a lignin-rich flaxseed hull extract.
"Study treatment consisted of 500 or 1000 mg of extract containing 100 mg (low-dose active [LDA] group, n = 26) or 200 mg (high-dose active [HDA] group, n = 26) of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), respec- tively. The placebo (P) group (n = 28) received matching maltodextrin capsules. Sixty subjects (LDA [n = 19], HDA [n = 20], and P [n = 21]) completed the study as per the protocol requirements. Change in the AUASI score within a period of 8 weeks, from baseline to end of treatment, was assessed."
The promising results were reported as follows:
"In this study, supplementation with the flaxseed hull extract provided greater relief than placebo in obstructive symptoms of BPH, such as sensation of incomplete bladder emptying, ''stopping and starting'' while urinating, weak urinary stream, and ''straining while urinating.'' Low and high doses of the flaxseed extract provided statistically significant improvements in the scores of these obstructive symptoms at week 8 as compared with baseline. In contrast to this, the placebo group did not show a statistically significant improvement with respect to these obstructive symptoms."
The treatment group did not see any sign of increased side effects relative to the placebo group, indicating how remarkably safe flaxseed is versus conventional treatment. Also, because the placebo group also saw a significant improvement, it is possible that the strong placebo effect may have overshadowed the real power of the intervention. We hope that in the future a non-pharmaceutical industry funded study compares flaxseed to both pharmaceutical and surgical intervention to assess its true power.
Another important observation is that the flaxseed groups saw an increase in free testosterone, as well as a decrease in the testosterone metabolite DHT, which is known to contribute to prostate growth both benign and malignant. The placebo group, on the other hand, saw both an increase in testosterone and DHT. This also means that aging men, whose testosterone levels often plunge in relation to their estrogen levels, might experience additional hormonal benefits from eating flaxseed that could contribute to their overall state of well-being.