Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Is Your Prostate Giving You Problems?

It's Time to Stop Those Late-Nite Trips to the Bathroom

Knowing what to do when your prostate, the walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder, starts to give you trouble no longer has to be perplexing. Once you understand what is happening to your prostate and learn about the arsenal of nutrients available to you to help alleviate the problems, you'll breathe a sigh of relief.

Size changes of the prostate are a natural part of the prostate's life cycle. At 20, the gland is about the size of a walnut, and remains relatively stable. Then at around age 40, the prostate begins to enlarge slowly. More than half of American males, according to the National Institute of Aging, will develop an enlarged prostate by age 60.

As the prostate gland enlarges, the "normal architecture" of the prostate is disrupted. As the urethra narrows, poor urinary flow can translate into a host of annoying symptoms, including hesitancy or straining to urinate, painful urination, occasional dripping, increased frequency of urination (which can be quite irritating in the middle of the night!), and a feeling that the bladder is not quite empty.

What causes this? Part of problem results from changes in the way the male hormone testosterone is metabolized. The body starts producing more of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase testosterone, which converts healthy testosterone into unhealthy dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which contributes to an enlarged prostate. That's when your prostate starts giving you trouble. DHT is the culprit for both prostate cancer and benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).

BPH, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, affects 50% of men 50 years and older. Prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate gland, can occur at any age, affecting about 40 million American men. And prostate cancer affects one man in five during his lifetime.

What about Conventional Treatment Proscar (finasteride):
Many doctors recommend prescription drugs for BPH. Two different types of drugs available are:

5-alpha-redcctase inhibitors. Finasteride (Proscar), the only drug in this category decreases DHT. With less DHT present to encourage prostate growth, the rate of enlargement slows. Yet, the results are less than desirable. Fewer than 37% of men on Proscar experienced clinical improvement after taking the drug for one year, reports an article in the September 1994 issue of American Journal of Natural Medicine.

And it takes at least 6 months before improvement can be expected. And the side effects cannot be ignored: they may include decreased libido, impotence and decreased fertility

Alpha-blockers. Terazosin (Hytrin) relaxes smooth muscle tissue, decreasing the pressure on the urethra, allowing urine to pass more freely. The most common side effect is dizziness when rising from the bed. Less common side effects include fatigue, general dizziness and decreased ejaculatory volume.

Natural Does Better
Compare that to the success of supplementing with Saw Palmetto extract, reported in at least 18 randomized controlled trials involving nearly 3,000 men. They found this herb effective in reducing prostate size in 80-90% of men treated. Results were also seen in a shorter time-30 to 90 days.

How To Maintain Prostate Health
Keeping an arsenal of tools in place will stop the domino effect now. Here's how:

Lifestyle Tips

Stop smoking
Smoking generates damaging, free radicals, resulting in increased risk of prostate cancer.
Breathe deeply
Deep rhythmic breathing exercises also help to cleanse the body, through the action of lymphatic cleaning.

Exercise your body
Jogging, a daily brisk walk or a bike ride exercises every cell of the body. Because exercise stimulates detoxification, it slows down the aging process.

Eat healthfully
Decrease saturated fats, trans fatty acid and hydrogenated fat. Many researchers have noted that prostate cancer rates are considerably lower in the Japanese, and one of the contributing factors is a diet that's lower in fat. Reducing the amount of dietary fat, especially saturated fat, appears to slow the growth of prostate tumors. Additionally, saturated fats increase prostaglandin production, which increases inflammation.

Increase your intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Since prostate problems arise partly because of a prostaglandin (hormone like substances) deficiency, EFA can replenish those prostaglandins, easing inflammation and inhibiting the binding of testosterone to the cells. Nuts and seeds are great sources as they are also high in zinc. Pumpkin seeds, another excellent source, is also rich in phytosterols, a substance that inhibits enzyme 5-alpha-reducatae, the enzyme responsible for conversion of testosterone to its more potent form, DHT. Flaxseed oil is also a valuable source of EFAs.

Increase soy intake. Research reports that the incidence of prostate cancer is lower in Japanese men, pointing to the inclusion of a soy rich diet. Soy contains saponins, phytic acid, protease inhibitors, isoflavones, and beta-sitosterol shown to be anticarcinogenic, lowers cholesterol and increases maximum urine flow rate, and decreases residual urine.

Up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. They provide valuable antioxidants-- Vitamin A, C, and E. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals, which contribute to prostate disorders. Freshly pressed juices of carrots, green vegetables, etc are also a recommended as they provide all the valuable nutrients plus enzymes for digestive health.

Limit alcohol. Too much alcohol is associated with BPH and prostate cancer.

Increase protein-rich foods. A high protein content (about 45% protein, 35% carbohydrate and 20% fat) inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.

Increase whole foods, free of pesticides. Pesticides and other contaminants (e.g.: dioxin, polyhalogenated biphenyl's, and hexachlorobenzene) increase the enzyme, 5-alpha reductase.

Drink lots of water. This stimulates kidney function and promotes urination.

Supplement with Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs
As you've seen, natural remedies are the way to go, including:

Bee pollen.
This nutrient packed substance decreases inflammation and provides relief from the agonizing chronic pain of prostatitis.

This nutrient improves urine flow and reduces the size of the prostate. Naturally found in Saw Palmetto and Pygeum.

This potent carotenoid is most abundant in the prostate. Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, in combination with vitamin E helps to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. It also helps to reduce levels of oxidized cholesterol. Since increased cholesterol deposits in the prostate often accompany BPH, this is very important.

Modified citrus pectin.
Citrus pectin, a water-soluble fiber, binds tumor cells and interferes with their adhesion to receptor cells in the prostate.

This essential mineral has strong anti-inflammatory properties, relieving prostate-related systems. As a powerful antioxidant, it also helps those with prostate cancer from advancing.

Pygeum bark extract.
This herb, approved for use in Germany, France and Italy for BPH, is rich in beta-sitosterol. It has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce prostate size, relieving urinary problems as constricted flow and other symptoms of prostate infections and benign prostate enlargement. It also helps to rid the prostate of any cholesterol deposits that accompany BPH.

Saw Palmetto extract.
This fat-soluble extract has nutritive, diuretic and urinary antiseptic properties. Over 20 double blind placebo-controlled studies have demonstrated this herbs effectiveness in improving urinary symptoms associated with BPH. One of it's active ingredients, beta-sitosterol, shrinks an enlarged prostate, reducing inflammation, pain and throbbing. It also helps tone the bladder, stimulating urine flow and thereby helping to relieve straining pains. Saw palmetto inhibits the conversion of testosterone to its more active form, DHT, the harmful form of testosterone. It also blocks DHT from binding in the prostate.

Editor's note: Be sure that your Saw Palmetto supplement contains 320mg of the 85-95% extract.

Stinging Nettle Leaf Extract. This valuable herb helps to improve volume flow and decrease nighttime urination. It prevents the binding of DHT to membrane receptor sights. When this binding occurs, prostate cells start dividing.

Vitamin B 6 protects the prostate against cancer. It also improves zinc absorption and utilization and helps to reduce prolactin levels.

Vitamin E. This fat-soluble antioxidant offers protection against free radical damage in the prostate, protecting it against cancer. When teamed up with lycopene, prostate cancer cell proliferation decreases significantly.

Zinc deficiencies are associated with the growing epidemic of enlarged prostate. A healthy prostate contains 10 times more zinc than any other organ in the body. Research has shown that zinc supplementation helps to alleviate the frequent urge to urinate and shrinks an enlarged prostate. It inhibits prolactin secretion, decreasing levels of the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT as well as inhibits the specific binding of testosterone to the receptor site.

Soy Isoflavones. The nutritional stars in isoflavones are genistein, daidzein and glycetein, potent phytoestrogens and antioxidants that help regulate hormonal balance. Population studies show that isoflavones can help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In Southeast Asian countries like China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea, the occurrence and death rate due to prostate cancer is a striking four to 10 times lower than in America. Isofavones not only suppress the growth of cancer cells but also inhibit cell proliferation.

Red Clover contains four active isoflavones: daidzein, genistein, biochanin and formononetin. Research has shown that this powerhouse of a phytoestrogen possesses chemopreventive properties and inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells.

Panax Ginseng. Panax ginseng increases energy and counters the effects of stress. Some researchers have found it to be a supportive herb for male potency.


Andro MC, et al. Pygeum africanum extract for treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: A review of 25 years of published experience. Curr Ther Res 1995;56:796-817.

Berges RR, et al. Randomized placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial of beta-sitosteron in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Lancet 1995;345:1529-32.

Fahim Ms, et al. Zinc treatment for reduction of hyperplasia. Fed Proc 1996;35(3):36.

Koch E. et al. Pharmacological effects of sabal and urtica extracts as a basis for a rational medication of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urologe 1994;334:90-95.

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