Beta-sitosterol is a naturally-occurring phytosterol that can be found in certain foods, ranging from nuts and avocados to certain oils. It’s also found in some cereals, cane sugar, and soybeans.
While beta-sitosterol isn’t a medicine on its own, it’s an important precursor that’s used to make certain types of medicine. It’s also widely used as a dietary supplement for the immune system, managing high cholesterol and reducing the effects of asthma, bronchitis, and migraines.
Studies show that beta-sitosterol can improve urologic symptoms in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). This has resulted in speculation that beta-sitosterol is also a potentially effective substance for blocking DHT and reducing hair loss in men.
So, is beta-sitosterol effective? In this guide, we’ll look at the scientific evidence for and against beta-sitosterol as a male pattern baldness treatment and compare its effectiveness to other popular hair loss treatments.
Does Beta-Sitosterol Work?
Like most natural supplements that claim to improve hair loss, there isn’t very much scientific evidence available for or against beta-sitosterol at this point in time.
This makes it impossible to say whether or not beta-sitosterol works as a hair loss treatment -- right now, there just isn’t any real, conclusive evidence like there is for drugs like finasteride or topical hair loss treatments like minoxidil.
Of course, this hasn’t stopped some supplement manufacturers from marketing beta-sitosterol as a potential cure for hair loss.
Right now, most of the science on beta-sitosterol focuses on its potential as a natural treatment for men with BPH. One study shows that when men with BPH take beta-sitosterol, it produces an improvement in urine flow -- a potential sign that the prostatic hyperplasia is improving.
Since DHT is one of the primary causes of BPH, this study data has been spun into claims by some supplement manufacturers that beta-sitosterol is a natural DHT blocker that can reduce DHT levels in the body.
Right now, we don’t know if beta-sitosterol blocks DHT or not. While it could potentially reduce DHT levels, there’s no conclusive scientific data saying yes or no. As such, it’s best to view any claims that beta-sitosterol is a DHT blocker with a certain degree of skepticism.
There is, however, some scientific evidence that beta-sitosterol could potentially improve hair growth in men with signs of male pattern baldness.
One study from 2006 shows that men between the ages of 23 and 64 with mild to moderate hair loss showed signs of improvement after taking the
However, only 60% of the people involved in the study showed any improvement, meaning that beta-sitosterol might not work for everyone. It’s also possible that the saw palmetto, which has some scientific validity as a DHT blocker, was solely responsible for the improvement.
At the moment, it’s best to take any claims of beta-sitosterol improving hair loss or blocking DHT with a grain of salt. Right now, it belongs in the "unknown" category as a natural supplement that might work, but also might not work.
Should You Take Beta-Sitosterol?
Beta-sitosterol is available over the counter as a dietary supplement, meaning you can easily buy it online or from your local health shop without needing a prescription. As a supplement, it can have some benefits for treating high cholesterol,
Most beta-sitosterol supplements are inexpensive, with a month’s worth of capsules available for $10 or less when purchased in bulk.
Like most supplements, beta-sitosterol has some potential adverse effects. It can cause gas, indigestion, and nausea when taken orally, although these aren’t very common.
It’s also linked to sitosterolemia -- a condition caused by overly high levels of beta-sitosterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease. As a result, it’s definitely not a good idea to take beta-sitosterol if you have sitosterolemia.
As always, the best option is to talk to your doctor about beta-sitosterol. They’ll be able to give you a complete understanding of its safety as part of your health and supplementation routine.
As for its value as a treatment for hair loss, the jury is still out. While beta-sitosterol’s effects on BPH symptoms and the observational data on hair growth are interesting, there just isn’t enough evidence to call this an effective supplement for treating male pattern baldness yet.
This article was reviewed by Ho Anh, MD.