Quite a number of men are not really informed about what prostate is, what the odds are of developing a prostate problem and what should be done about it. Dealing with these issues require them to understand more about their male anatomy to begin with and most importantly learn how to face the problem head on.
What is Prostate?
As a part of the male reproductive system, the prostate is a small gland in men that produces the fluid that carries sperm during ejaculation (1). It is about the size and shape of a walnut and sits low in the pelvis, below the bladder and just in front of the rectum (2). The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine passes out of the body. Such a small gland which can cause a serious problem among men. Prostate changes when one ages. It gets larger as one gets older. By the time one reaches age 40, his prostate might have gone from the size of a walnut to the size of an apricot; at 60, it might be the size of a lemon (3). Because it surrounds part of the urethra, the enlarged prostate can squeeze that tube which causes problem for men especially when they pee.
Prostate enlargement or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is common and cannot be prevented but this is noncancerous (4). Statistics shows that 8 out of every 10 men eventually develop an enlarged prostate, about 90% of men over the age of 85 will have this, and about 30% of men will find their symptoms bothersome (5). Age and family history can also become factors that increase one’s chances of getting it.
Have you experienced the urgent need to urinate? Is it difficult to start urination? Is your urine stream weak? Do you have the inability to completely empty the bladder?
If your answer to all these questions is yes, then you might have a benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostate.
There are a few healthy alternatives to combat BPH and most of them are natural herbs and fruit extracts.
Natural remedies for enlarged prostate:
- Green tea. Green tea has a lot of antioxidants called catechins that have been shown to enhance the immune system and potentially slow the progression of prostate cancer (6). Studies show that green tea can help prevent prostate cancer from forming and may also slow the growth of aggressive prostate cancer (7), (8). Among the catechins is one called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which research shows has an impact on androgens and other hormones and this activity may make EGCG useful for the management of BPH and other hormone-related abnormalities (9). In recent animal trials and in vitro studies in laboratories, this polyphenol, EGCG, appears to have promising results, that is, it reduced the over-production of cells and even prevented the onset of BPH (10).
- Lycopene is a naturally occurring pigment found in many fruits and vegetables (11). It inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia (12), (13). Some fruits and vegetables are rich in lycopene, but tomatoes have the most lycopene content. The deeper pink or red the fruit or vegetable is in color, the higher its lycopene content (14). In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, it was found that lycopene, a component found in tomatoes, may inhibit BPH progression and may ameliorate symptoms in patients at a dose of 15 mg/day for 6 months (15).
- Zi-Shen Pill (ZSP). The Zi-Shen Pill (ZSP), ancient Chinese medicine dating back to the 13th century, contains a mixture of three plants, including Chinese cinnamon (16). A study conducted on rats reveals a positive inhibitory effect of ZSP on benign prostatic hyperplasia (17). It is encouraged to conduct more research of this pill to understand its effectiveness on humans.
- Pumpkin Seeds. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are the edible seeds of a pumpkin (18). Research shows that they are particularly helpful in supporting prostate health and treating the symptoms of BPH (19). They contain beta-sitosterol. Preliminary studies reveal that beta-sitosterol may improve urine flow and reduce the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination (20). The oil in pumpkin seeds can help prevent the hormones from triggering multiplication of prostate cells. It also contains carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids and research shows that men who have higher levels of carotenoids in their diet have a reduced risk of BPH (21).
- Curcumin contains many anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists continue to explore the potential therapeutic properties of curcumin for men with prostate conditions, and the body of evidence regarding its benefits surfaces proving that curcumin has demonstrated benefits in the realm of prostate cancer, and there is potential for managing men who have an enlarged (22). A study published in the December 2012 issue of Italy’s Panminerva Medica evaluated the effect of a curcumin supplement taken by persons with BPH (enlarged prostate) and reveals that curcumin may actually help the body inhibit the compounds that cause prostate enlargement (23).
- Saw Palmetto. Saw palmetto, or Serenoa repens, is a plant used by many as a natural remedy. Its berry extracts are the most popular herbal products used to treat symptomatic BPH (24). It was found to inhibit the enzyme linked to benign prostatic hyperplasia and may also help promote prostate health (24). One examination of 21 randomized controlled trials involving a total of 3139 shows that men treated with saw palmetto experienced decreased urinary tract symptom scores, less nocturia, better urinary tract symptom and others compared with men receiving placebo (25).
- Cernilton is a water-soluble pollen fraction phytotherapeutic product whose extract originates from rye grass pollen (26). It is one of the several agents available for the treatment of BPH. A study shows that cernilton is modestly improves overall urologic symptoms including nocturia (27).
- Pygeum (African plum tree) is a tree and its bark is used as medicine. According to a 2002 analysis of 18 clinical trials, it may be a useful treatment option for men with lower urinary symptoms resulting from BPH (28). It contains a wide range of fatty acids, alcohols, and sterols that have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on the urogenital tract, in effect, reduces the functional symptoms of BPH, decreases nocturia by 19%, increases peak urine flow by 23%, and reduces residual urine volume by 24% in men with BPH (29), (30).
- Babassu or Orbignya speciosa is palm tree native in Brazil. Several indigenous Brazilian tribes and communities use the dried or ground kernels from the tree to treat urogenital symptoms and conditions (31). The oil of babassu tree nuts is a potential alternative for treatment and prophylaxis of benign prostatic hyperplasia (32). It has been shown to reduce testosterone production while certain parts of the nut contain compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (33).
- Stinging nettle. Stinging nettle root (Urtica dioica) is an herb with a long history of medicinal use, especially in Europe. It has been used for centuries as treatment for urinary tract problems among men (34). It also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In a six-month trial including 620 patients, 81% of patients who took stinging nettle reported improved lower urinary tract symptoms compared with only 16% of men who took a placebo (35).
Final Thought on Prostate Problem
Seeing your doctor the soonest you can is advised to get you administered with proper treatment while it is early to avoid complications in the future. But should you want to try these remedies, it is important to note that you should seek the advice from your doctor first. Herbal treatments may have adverse effect to any existing medications you may be having. And no matter how consistent you take in these remedies, healthy lifestyle still plays a vital role in the treatment.