USRF Research

Medicinal botanicals in the treatment
of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS):
a demographic analysis of awareness and use
at the University of Chicago.

Glenn S. Gerber, Gregory T. Bales, Edward Kirsh and Arthur P. Christiano, Chicago, IL (Presented by Dr. Christiano).
Source: 1998 AUA Meeting

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES -- In many European countries, the majority of patients with of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) are managed with phytotherapeutic agents. While still viewed as "unconventional" medicine in the United States, there is evidence that the use of vitamins, natural compounds, plants and plant extracts is growing in popularity. Despite inconclusive evidence for the efficacy of phytotherapy in general, it is estimated that the total U.S. sales of medicinal botanicals will exceed 1 billion dollars in 1997. Using a simple questionnaire, we sought to identify demographic differences in the local patterns of medicinal botanical use in the treatment of LUTS attributed to BPH.

METHODS -- All men presenting to the outpatient urology clinic from June, 1997-October, 1997 at the University ofr Chicago were given the opportunity to anonymously respond to a voluntary survey . The awareness and personal use of medicinal botanicals in the treatment of "urinary difficulties in men with enlarged prostates were correlated with respect to chief complaint, age, race, level of education, and history of previous treatment for BPH.

RESULTS -- A total of 760 men completed the survey in its entirety. Patients were stratified into those presenting for evaluation of LUTS and/or prostate disease (n=446) and those with other presenting complaints (n=314). Among the first group, 11.9% had used phytotherapeutic agents for their voiding symptoms, an additional 37.0% were aware that such therapy was available but had never used these agents and 51.1% were unaware of these products. The use of phytotherapeutic agents was correlated with increasing levels of formal education completed by patients. Among ethnic groups, African-Americans with prostate disease demonstrated the lowest level of awareness and use of phytotherapeutic agents. Among men who had or had not been previously treated with approved medical therapies for BPH, 24.3% and 4.5%, respectively, had used phytotherapeutic agents.

CONCLUSIONS -- The use of phytotherapy in men with prostate disease presenting for outpatient urologic evaluation is significant and appears to be correlated with level of patient education, ethnic group and previous treatment for BPH. Based on the level of patient interest in phytotherapy, further evaluation of these agents appears to be appropriate.

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