Herbal extracts that cure an enlarged prostate? Not likely.

Saw palmetto, which is NOT effective for
treating enlarged prostates.

(Note: see the brief update at the bottom of this post for a response from the manufacturer.)

I haven’t looked at medical scams recently, and I thought I’d venture back into that world just a little bit this week, to see what is happening.

As always, the scams are everywhere, with products claiming to cure just about everything. What surprised me, though, is how blatant some of them have become. Some sites have no caveats or disclaimers at all, despite the fact that their claims are utterly false. They don’t even pretend that they are worried about a regulatory agency objecting to their false claims. The boldness can be startling–or, if you’re not sufficiently skeptical, convincing.

Let’s look at one site that strikes me as particularly egregious, which sells a dietary supplement called Prostoxalen as a cure for prostate problems. I was directed to this site by another site, ShopBodyVibes, that sells an even wider range of bogus cures (more on that below).

The marketers of Prostoxalen, which they sell for $40 for a bottle of 60 pills, are nothing if not direct. At the top of their website, they promise that Prostoxalen will “get rid of the constant pressure on the bladder, unpleasant pain and all other ailments related to prostate enlargement! Once and for all!

Nowhere do they provide even a shred of evidence for this claim.

And there’s more: they also claim that Prostoxalen will cure erectile dysfunction: “if you've noticed erection problems, our capsules will fix that issue as well,” the site states.

Again, no evidence at all.

I was expecting at least a citation to a poorly-done study published in a low-quality journal - after all, even homeopathic treatments, which are laughably ineffective, can find some bad science to support their claims.

But no, not for Prostoxalen. Maybe its marketers think that the testimonials alone (which appear to be fake) are sufficient.

So what on earth is in these pills? Well, it turns out that they’re just plant extracts and vitamins. The main ingredients are extracts of saw palmetto, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, tomatoes, nettles, and willowherb, along with a couple of common vitamins.

Great! So all you need is cranberries, tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds, and your prostate problems will go away. I’m surprised that anyone has an enlarged prostate, if this is all it takes to cure it.

But here’s the problem: there is no good scientific evidence that any of these ingredients will cure or relieve the symptoms of enlarged prostate. Not even a tiny bit.

(If you want to dig deeper, you can find multiple scientific studies of saw palmetto, which is widely marketed as a treatment for enlarged prostates. A carefully-done randomized trial out of Washington University, back in 2013, show that it simply doesn’t work, even at high doses.)

The name Prostoxalen sounds just a little bit like they might want you to think it’s a drug, doesn’t it? Maybe something to do with the prostate? Fortunately, the website answers this question in a FAQ list, which says: “No, Prostoxalen is not a drug. It is a food supplement in the form of capsules.”

Aha, that explains it. Dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, unless you claim that they’re a drug or that they can treat a medical condition.

What I expected to see on the website, but didn’t, was this disclaimer: “these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” That’s the small-print language that appears on thousands of websites and products, and that allows supplement makers to make all kinds of hints and suggestions while avoiding regulation. Typically they use phrases like “supports prostate health,” as one saw palmetto product puts it.

It appears that Prostoxalen is manufactured and sold by a company in Poland, identified on the website only as PLT Group. So I guess they just don’t care what the FDA thinks–even though they are marketing this in the U.S. (I contacted them through their website, but they didn’t respond.)

So no, there is no magic pill that cures or relieves the symptoms of enlarged prostates, and any such cure is almost certain to require more than a few plant extracts.

Finally, about that site that directed me to Prostoxalen: that was ShopBodyVibes, a site that sells products to “make the penis longer” (Eroxel), “cleanse the body of toxins” (BurnBooster), “reduce varicose veins” (Variforce), “eliminate knee pain” (Ortezan), and a “breast enlargement serum” called BooUp. I’m not making this up. Needless to say (but I’ll say it), none of these products works–and yet the site has no disclaimers, nor does it provide any evidence for the claims.

The ShopBodyVibes site repeats all the claims from the Prostoxalen website (see here), again with no disclaimers. If you wonder what is in this product, (as I did), ShopBodyVibes suggests that “Everyone who is interested in learning the detailed composition of the product can read the list of ingredients, which is available on the manufacturer’s official website.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ShopBodyVibes site has no indication of where it is located. It appears to be outside the U.S., which explains its stunning lack of any attempt to qualify its many bogus claims. It also has enough similarity to the Prostoxalen site to suggest that both sites might be owned by the same group in Poland. They didn’t respond to my inquiries.

And if you’re wondering how I stumbled upon BodyVibes: they were promoted by an article on Goop (yes, that’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company) about “wearable stickers that promote healing.” Yes, BodyVibes sells those too. I wrote about these magic stickers back in 2017, and my advice then still applies: they still don’t work, but if you like stickers, you can get a sheet of 50 for a couple of bucks.

Update: the manufacturer of Prostoxalen replied to my inquiry after this post appeared. Their message, in full, said: “our product has passed all the required tests before being launched on the market. It has proven to be highly effective, safe and legally introduced. We are a Polish company - the product is on the list of the National Sanitary Inspectorate at the Ministry of Health in Poland.” They did not provide any evidence or citations to support these claims, particularly the “highly effective” claim.

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