Benefits of Beta-Sitosterol
While beta-sitosterol is primarily used for treating high cholesterol and an enlarged prostate, there appear to be other potential benefits of beta-sitosterol. Although some people take the plant sterol to enhance sexual performance, boost the immune system, and treat asthma, there is little scientific evidence to support these uses. There are no documented health benefits of beta-sitosterol for children.
Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol (phytosterol) found in various foods and in some dietary supplements and "functional foods" (such as margarines or spreads designed to lower cholesterol). Beta-sitosterol may provide some benefit for the following conditions:
However, people take beta-sitosterol for other uses as well, uses for which there is little scientific evidence. These less valid beta-sitosterol uses include:
- Treating gallstones
- Enhancing sexual performance
- Boosting the immune system
- Treating the common cold and flu
- Treating asthma
- Relieving menopause symptoms
- Helping with hair loss or baldness.
Although beta-sitosterol probably works for high cholesterol or an enlarged prostate, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend it for any of the other uses (see Does Beta-Sitosterol Work?). Research shows that plant sterols, including beta-sitosterol, can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) without having any effect on HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol"). For an enlarged prostate, research suggests that beta-sitosterol can help relieve symptoms, but does not seem to shrink the prostate.