Herbal supplements are pills, powders, teas, and other products that use herbs as the main ingredient to promote health. They are a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
What is CAM?
CAM uses methods of healing that are not part of standard medical care. Standard medical care is treatment that has been tested, found to be safe and effective, and approved by the FDA. Complementary medicine is any form of therapy used along with standard medical care. It is used to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Alternative medicine is used in place of standard medical care.
Do herbal supplements work?
Most herbal supplements that claim to treat prostate cancer have not gone through a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research study to test a treatment. Other herbal supplements have been shown to slow or stop prostate cancer cell growth in lab studies. But lab studies are done on cells, not people. An herbal supplement tested in a lab may not have an effect on men with prostate cancer.
Risks of herbal supplements
Herbal supplements have risks. Some have been shown to cause blood clots, breast pain, and loss of sexual interest (libido). Some herbal supplements have been taken off the market after serious warnings by the FDA.
Talking with your health care provider
Talk with your health care provider before taking any type of herbal supplement. He or she can help you learn what may help, and what may not be safe to use. Your health care provider will also make sure the supplement does not interact with a medicine you are already taking.