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 Herbal Medicine: Benign Prostate Enlargement 
Donald Brown J. ND ©
If you are a male between 40 and 59 years of age, there is a 50 to 60 percent chance that you have benign enlargement of the prostate gland. This condition, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), begins in many men in their fourth decade. Distressing symptoms usually begin after age 50 years.l The cause, which has yet to be discovered, may be related to hormonal changes in middle-aged and elderly men.

Problems with urine flow are the major symptoms of BPH. The symptoms occur when the enlarged prostate gland impinges on the outlet of the bladder and the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder). Listed here are common signs and symptoms of BPH:

  • Dysuria-painful urination
  • Hesitancy to urinate
  • Straining to urinate
  • Decreased force and caliber of urinary stream
  • Prolonged dribbling after urination
  • Sensation of incomplete bladder emptying
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Nocturia-frequent urination at night In addition to these symptoms, complications may arise, including bladder infections, involuntary urination, and bleeding in the urinary tract Accurate medical diagnosis is critical in order to rule out prostate cancer.

    Herbal Prescriptions

    Saw palmetto (lipophilic extract of saw palmetto berries)~20 milligrams daily, taken all at once or in two separate doses Actions: Reduces the size of the prostate by inhibiting 5-a-reductase formation of dihydrotestosterone. Also has antiinflammatory properties. This should be your first choice for long-term treatment of BPH

    Get to Know Your Prostate!
    Problems related to the prostate account for billions of health care dollars annually. Yet many of you males out there don't know much about the location or workings of the prostate! The March 26, 1995 London Times reports the results of a survey that asked men about their prostate glands. The survey found that 89 percent of men did not know where the prostate gland is located. Sixty-two percent of respondents mistook it for the bladder. Only one-half of the men responding knew that only men could suffer from prostate problems. Finally, women were slightly better informed-only 41 percent failed to identify the prostate correctly!

    The prostate, which is the size of a walnut or chestnut (they actually say that in medical texts!), lies below the bladder and is wrapped around the urethra-the tube that carries urine away from the bladder. In conjunction with the Cowper's glands, the prostate produces seminal fluid, which is needed for sperm to survive.

    Nettle root extract-120 milligrams twice daily

    Actions: Antiinflammatory and decongestant (antiedema) properties.2 European extracts are often used in combination with saw palmetto.

    Pygeum (lipophilic extract of the bark)~O to 100 milligrams twice daily

    Actions: Antiinflammatory and decongestant (antiedema) properties3 Note: These herbal prescriptions can also be considered for the treatment of chronic, nonbacterial inflammation of the prostate (also known as chronic prostatitis).

    Nutritional Supplement Considerations

    These are primarily for prevention of both BPH and prostate cancer:

  • Zinc (monomethionine or citrate)~30 milligrams daily
  • Selenium-100 to 200 micrograms daily

    Dietary Recommendations
    Again, the intent here is prevention of both BPH and prostate cancer. Keep your intake of saturated fats low. This includes red meat, milk, and fried oils. Include more polyunsaturated fats by eating vegetables and fish, and use olive oil for cooking. A vegetarian diet has been shown to reduce the amount of circulating hormones in the body-this also reduces the risk of BPH as well as prostate cancer.4,5 A vegetarian diet also adds dietary fiber and antioxidant nutrients. Soy products should be a staple of your vegetarian strategy against BPH and prostate cancer.6

  • (Excerpted from Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health:
    Your Everyday Guide to Prevention, Treatment, and Care ISBN: 0761503234)
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