Part 2, The Prostate Gland
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland (normally 3.5-4.0 cm) that surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra in males only. The prostate secretes a thin, opalescent fluid during ejaculation that makes up part of the semen. This fluid can be thought of as the liquid in which the sperm cells “swim.” Prostate problems are often without pain, but when pain does occur due to the prostate gland it is often felt at the anus and may occur after ejaculation. The prostate gland may also refer pain to the low back but this is not usual with the most common prostate problems, including benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).
Side View of the Male Pelvis (Normal Prostate Gland):
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the most common conditions affecting men over the age of 50. At about the age of 40 to 45, the prostate gland starts becoming progressively enlarged. This can result in restriction of urinary flow and symptoms such as dysuria (difficulty or pain during urination), increased urinary frequency (having to urinate often), urgency (the need to “go” now!), hesitancy (trouble starting urination), decreased pressure behind the stream, and nocturia (the need to go often during the night.) If BPH persists or becomes severe, it can result in stasis of the urine leading to urinary tract infections and possibly damage to the kidneys. More often, BPH is just a nuisance, interfering with quality of life and disturbing normal sleep. BPH rarely improves spontaneously, it usually either remains the same for years or gradually gets worse.
Conventional Medical Therapy
Medical studies have shown that one of the major triggering factors for BPH is dihydrotestosterone, which is produced from the male hormone testosterone by the action of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. Compounds that inhibit this enzyme can be expected to have a beneficial effect on BPH. One such compound is the drug finasteride (Proscar). Unfortunately, clinical studies have found this drug to be only marginally effective.1,2 In addition, the drug has some undesirable side-effects. For example, it causes impotence in about 4 percent of the men who take it. Terazosin, a blood pressure-lowering drug, has been found to relieve the symptoms of BPH is some cases. However this drug does not slow the progression of the condition and is also not without undesirable side-effects.
Prostate surgery (transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP) is still considered the “treatment of choice” by many urologists. However, prostate surgery carries its own risks including possible perforation of the bladder, infection, hemorrhage, persistent urinary incontinence, and even permanent impotency. Furthermore, the surgery is not always effective.
Fortunately there are natural remedies that provide safe, effective, and inexpensive alternatives for men with BPH.
Saw Palmetto Berries
Saw palmetto berries come from the saw palmetto bush (Serenoa repens), which is indigenous to Florida and North Carolina. It is the therapy most frequently prescribed by medical doctors in France for the treatment of BPH. Saw palmetto was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as early as 1905 and has been used safely for many decades.
Recent studies including a double-blind study3 have shown that an extract of saw palmetto berries inhibits 5-alpha-reductase more effectively than finasteride. In addition, saw palmetto berries did not result in side-effects and did not cause any changes in standard blood chemistry measurements. 3, 4, 5, 6
Pygeum (Prunus africana) is an evergreen tree that grows in Africa. The bark of the tree has been used for years by natives of tropical Africa to treat urinary disorders. Although it is not certain what the active ingredients are, some of the compounds found in Pygeum bark exert anti-inflammatory effects, while others are thought to influence testosterone metabolism.
In one double-blind study an extract of Pygeum (200mg/day for 2 months) was significantly more effective than placebo with respect to urinary frequency, urgency, dysuria, and urinary flow rate.7Numerous other open and controlled studies have confirmed its effectiveness as a treatment of BPH.8
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is an herb with a long history of use among men in Africa and Europe. It is recognized by most herbalists for its diuretic action. In Germany, where herbal medicine is more mainstream than it is in the United States, physicians prescribe nettle in the treatment of high blood pressure. One German study suggests stinging nettle might also relieve symptoms of BPH.11
Herbal Combinations for the Prostate Gland
Men’s Formula is an herbal combination containing all of the herbal and nutritional factors mentioned above. For maximum effectiveness, the saw palmetto and pygeum are in a concentrated form. Although this increases the cost, this is the form that was used in the medical studies which proved their effectiveness, and this is the form that is most likely to give beneficial results.Another good herbal combination for the prostate is PS II. This formulation for overall prostate health contains eleven herbs—including saw palmetto. This prostate formula has been used to reduce swelling, inflammation, and muscle spasms in the urinary tract. PS II is often helpful for inflammations of the prostate that are not due to BPH. For men who have some of the urinary symptoms of BPH, but are under 40 and/or have been told by their doctors that their prostate is not enlarged, this formulation may prove the most helpful. In fact, any man with prostate concerns might want to try this formulation first, since it is relatively inexpensive and when it works it usually gives quick results. If an improvement is not noticed by the time the first or second bottle is finished, a switch to the “Men’s Formula” mentioned above might be considered.
A Word or Two About Prostate Cancer and Its Prevention
Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer in men. Only lung and colorectal cancers rank higher in terms of incidence and morbidity. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded that men who consumed more than 30 grams of saturated fat a day—mostly from meat and dairy products—had twice the risk of prostate cancer than did men who ate less than 11 grams of saturated fat a day. No other dietary factor has been shown to have such a significant correlation with prostate cancer. The authors of the study recommended that men aim for 10 grams or less of saturated fat a day as a preventative measure.13
Another study of deaths from prostate cancer in 59 countries showed a strong correlation between diet and prostatic cancer. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School reported that diets relatively high in meats, milk and poultry seem to lead to a greater incidence of prostatic cancer than those consisting of grains, nuts, fish and soy.14
There may be a correlation between a low fiber diet and prostatic cancer. Sufficient dietary intake of fiber may prove to be beneficial for preventing prostate cancer, as has proven to be the case in certain other forms of cancer.
Conclusion to Part II
Research has shown that Saw palmetto berries, Pygeum, and zinc can be used safely and effectively by men with BPH. According to Alan R. Gaby, M.D., “In my experience, at least two-thirds of men with symptoms of BPH find gratifying and long-lasting relief when they follow a natural treatment program for BPH that includes some or all of these substances. Because of its low risk of side effects and high success rate, this nutritional/herbal approach should be considered the ‘treatment of choice’ for BPH.”12
Immediate results should not be expected when using the natural approach. Most research indicates that at least a two month trial is necessary before determining if the natural approach is best. A healthy diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables and a reduction of dietary intake of saturated fats may also prove helpful with prostate problems. A moderate regular exercise routine such as daily walking may also be beneficial.
Whereas the medical approaches to prostate problems, including the drugs prescribed for prostate conditions, often interfere with sexual performance; the herbal and nutritional approache usually has the opposite effect. In other words, the natural approaches generally enhance sexual performance and enjoyment.
Conclusion to Lesson 13
Our urinary system passes the blood through a filtration process so the body can maintain a clean supply of fluids. This system is also responsible for maintaining the important sodium-potassium balance in and around our cells necessary for a high level of healthy energy. The kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra comprise the urinary system. Because the urethra in men passes through the prostate, and since the prostate gland can cause urinary problems, it too is often considered a part of the urinary system in men. Herbal food supplements, vitamins and minerals can help provide the urinary system with the nutrients it needs to effectively perform its delicate job.
Word Review List:
Below is a list of some of the words that were discussed to this lesson. If you are unclear as to the meaning of any, click on the word to review its definition:
If you have two or more of the following indications, you may consider nutritional aid to the urinary system:
- Drink 12-16 cups of pure water daily
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables especially asparagus
- Personal hygiene (Women after urinating wipe from front to back only insted of back to front)
- Avoid antibiotics if possible
- Eat natural yogurt
The key product for the urinary system is Urinary Maintenance.
Note on the Urinary System Flow Chart: Add new product Kidney Drainage under Kidney Activator.
Urinary System Products
These product links and those throughout the lesson are for U.S. orders only.
Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.