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  • Beta-sitosterol is a type of fatty substance found in plants that is similar to cholesterol in humans. Despite its uses by herbal practitioners for the treatment of enlarged prostate, beta-sitosterol poses a risk for side effects in some patients.

    Types of Side Effects

    Side effects of beta-sitosterol include nausea, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, constipation, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction, reports RxList.

    Time Frame

    The safety of taking beta-sitosterol continuously for more than one year is unknown, reports the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

    Drug Interactions

    Taking beta-sitosterol with cholesterol-lowering medications like pravastatin or ezetimibe may decrease the effectiveness of beta-sitosterol, reports RxList, which may require you to take more to treat your prostate problem. Increasing your dosage of beta-sitosterol may increase your risk of developing side effects.

    Restrictions

    Patients who have sitosterolemia, a medical condition that affects how the body stores fats, may experience severe reactions to beta-sitosterol and should not take the supplements. Because its effects upon fetal development are unknown, pregnant or nursing women should not use beta-sitosterol, reports the Linus Pauling Institute.

    Considerations

    Because it is a natural supplement, products containing beta-sitosterol are not evaluated for safety or effectiveness by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, explains the New York University Medical Center. Since they are not evaluated, products with beta-sitosterol may contain harmful ingredients that do not appear on the labeling.

    Source:

    RxList: Beta-Sitosterol Effectiveness, Safety and Drug Interactions

    Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Phytosterols

    New York University Medical Center: Beta-sitosterol Plant Extract

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