3 Herbs for a Healthy Prostate
3 Herbs for a Healthy Prostate
In most men the prostate is just about forgotten until they have trouble with urination or it’s time for a prostate exam (digital rectal exam) at the end of a yearly physical. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of men will eventually need treatment for prostate problems. How much do you know about this time-bomb ticking away deep in the plumbing of every male?
Shaped like a chestnut, a healthy prostate gland weighs around 20 g and is located between the bladder and the penis. The posterior part of the prostate ends at the rectum, hence the digital rectal examination to verify the shape and size of the prostate. The prostate secretes a thin, milky, acidic fluid that make up 3040% of semen volume. The prostate also secretes nutrients such as zinc, amino acids, citric acid, vitamins and fructose that keep sperm healthy.
Although infertility problems can be due to poor prostate function, the 3 main prostate conditions are: enlargement, infection and cancer.
1. Enlargement (Benign prostate hyperplasia/hypertrophy)
After men hit 50, roughly, there begins a benign enlargement of the prostate gland as a secondary effect of male hormones. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When significant enlargement occurs, the prostate may pinch off the urethra making urination difficult or impossible.
2. Infection (Prostatitis)
A prostatitis is an infection of the prostate gland. The infection can be acute or chronic, bacterial or abacterial (fungal, viral). Prostatitis symptoms may vary from low back pain to intense burning or urination.
3. Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in American men. In 2003, it is estimated that 220,900 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States alone. Prostate cancer can be malignant (spread to surrounding areas) and metastasize (spread to nearby lymph nodes, bones or other organs). Prostate cancer treatment has improved significantly due to early detection. Early prostate cancer symptoms don’t usually cause symptoms, but be mindful of changes in urination (increased frequency, dribbling, hesitancy).
There are a number of herbs and supplements that have an affinity for the prostate. Here are some below.
1. Saw palmetto
Saw palmetto is the leading natural treatment for BPH. Saw palmetto inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to its more active form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is responsible for the enlargement of the prostate.
Zinc plays a large role in prostate function. Studies have shown that zinc supplementation helps shrink the prostate in patients with BPH. When supplementing zinc, always remember to supplement with copper as large does of zinc may deplete copper levels from the body.
3. Pygeum africanum
Studies have shown that Pygeum bark is safe and effective for men with BPH of mild or moderate severity.
Bush IM, Berman E, Nourkayhan S, et al. Zinc and the prostate. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association Chicago, 1974.
Fahim MS, Fahim Z, Der R, Harman J. Zinc treatment for reduction of hyperplasia of prostate. Fed Proc 1976;35(3):361.
Andro MC, Riffaud JP. Pygeum africanum extract for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a review of 25 years of published experience. Curr Ther Res 1995;56:796–817.
Schneider HJ, Honold E, Mashur T. Treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Results of a surveillance study in the practices of urological specialists using a combined plant-base preparation. Fortschr Med 1995;113:37–40.
*Post courtesy of Dr. Jean-Jacques Dugoua ND, PhD. Dr. Jean-Jacques Dugoua, or Dr. JJ as he is affectionately known, is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) with a Doctorate (PhD) in pharmacy science. He is a clinical pharmacologist, public speaker and researcher.
Dr. JJ is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor since 2003. He is the Chief Medical Officer of the Liberty Clinic in downtown Toronto and the first ND to practice at the Toronto Western Hospital in the Artist Health Center, one of the few NDs practicing in a hospital in Canada. He does research with the Motherisk Program at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto where he heads the MotherNature Network. He is an Assistant Professor with the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto.
You can learn more at Ask Dr. JJ.