Phytosterols in supplements containing Serenoa repens: an example of variability of active principles in commercial plant based products

Phytosterols are one of the bioactive components responsible for the beneficial effects of Serenoa repens in Benign Prostate Hyperplasia. The aim of this study was to verify the actual variability of the phytosterols content in supplements containing serenoa, in order to provide useful elements to check the effectiveness of these preparations. The amount of campesterol, stigmasterol and β-sitosterol were determined by gas-chromatography in commercial raw materials and supplements containing serenoa in association or not with other botanicals. The experimental data were used to calculate amounts of phytosterols for recommended daily dose. The overall results of this study show an extreme variability in the content and also in the amounts per daily dose of phytosterols of the examined supplements (both mono/multi components). These data confirm that the characterization of serenoa based supplements is insufficient to ensure comparable effects between different products.