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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
A new ingredient for prostate health shows promise for shaking up the men’s health supplement category, which until now has been reliant on many of the same ingredients for years, a company says.
A new ingredient for prostate health shows promise for shaking up the men’s health supplement category, which until now has been reliant on many of the same ingredients for years. The herb Ageratum conyzoides was introduced as a branded ingredient by Gencor (Irvine, CA) at October’s SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas.
Gencor is marketing the ingredient under the brand name AGEprost. “It is a hydroalcoholic extract of aerial parts and has traditionally been used in the Caribbean to maintain prostate and urinary health,” the company says in a brochure. “It contains numerous chemical compounds such as terpenoids, sterols, flavonoids, coumarins, and lignans.”
Ageratum conyzoides is said to be a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. 5-alpha-reductase is the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Too much production of DHT is linked to conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. Increased amounts of DHT have also been linked to male-pattern baldness. By helping to inhibit 5-alpha-reductase and therefore DHT, Ageratum conyzoides “has shown to be able to relax muscles around the urethra and smooth muscles of the neck of the bladder, helping to relieve urinary retention and frequency,” the company says. “It can also block conversion of testosterone to DHT with subsequent reduction in prostate size, improving urine flow.”
According to Gencor’s managing director, R.V. Venkatesh, Ageratum conyzoides will breathe new life into a category that he says has been focused mainly on a few longstanding ingredients.
“If you look at the prostate health segment, it’s running on four products, literally: saw palmetto, pumpkin seed extract, nettle root extract, and Pygeum africanum,” Venkatesh said at SupplySide West. He pointed out what he said are drawbacks with each ingredient: Pygeum, he said, is difficult to obtain-“You have to strip the bark of the African pine tree to get it; it’s gone, out of the market"-while nettle root, pumpkin seed, and saw palmetto extract, he claimed, have limited clinical evidence for efficacy. Saw palmetto faces high rates of adulteration, too.
Venkatesh said Ageratum conyzoides showed strong promise for efficacy in a 12-week, 109-subject published clinical trial.1 In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, men aged 41-76 years were given either a placebo or Ageratum conyzoides extract at a dose of 250 mg/day for 12 weeks. Primary outcome measures were determined via the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), daily urinary frequency, and safety evaluations. Secondary measurements included testosterone, DHT, oestradiol, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), and cortisol levels, as well as prostate specific antigen (PSA), lipid, and blood glucose levels and the Aging Male Symptom (AMS) score, and sexual function according to the Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning-Self Report (DISF-SR).
In Ageratum conyzoides subjects, researchers found a significant reduction in total IPSS score. Intervention subjects saw significant reductions in daytime and nighttime urinary frequency. Meanwhile, steroid hormone, SHBG, PSA, DHEA, and cortisol levels remained within a healthy range over the duration of the study.
The researchers concluded: “The overall results indicate that A. conyzoides may be an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of BPH in healthy men, in part, through inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase enzyme activity.” A separate toxicity study showed no evidence of mutagenicity, clastogenicity, or genotoxicity, Gencor adds.2
The company says that marketers using AGEprost can use claims such as: “Supports healthy prostate function,” “Supports healthy bladder function,” “Reduces urges to urinate,” and “Reduces daytime and nighttime urination frequency.”
Interestingly, Venkatesh said, Ageratum conyzoides first came to the company’s attention for its traditional use as a hair-growth ingredient. Upon further investigation, Gencor researchers discovered more of its prostate health benefits. The company is still exploring the hair-health aspect of the ingredient, as well as furthering research on its prostate health benefits.
“[The men’s health and prostate health market] is a ripe space for something new because literally there has been zero innovation in this segment for the past 18 or 19 years,” Venkatesh said. “Ours is the first one to come with a high-quality study published in a high-quality journal with a full toxicity package.”
He added that AGEprost would combine nicely with some of Gencor’s other ingredients, such as its Testofen fenugreek extract, which studies have shown assists with another concerning men's health issue: age-related androgen decline. “It can also go into 50-plus multivitamins,” he said.
With AGEprost, he said, instead of fighting with products containing many of the same ingredients found in competitor products, marketers can use AGEprost to “position their brand well and talk about the science. And it’s something new for the consumer.”