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 Naturopathic Medicine: Prostatic Disease - A Common Problem / New Hope for Relief 
By the age of 50, about 30% of all men will experience difficulties with urination that is related to enlargement of the prostate gland. This rises to about 50% at age 60. Increases in the number of times one has to visit the bathroom along with a frequent sensation of having to urinate, especially at night, has lead to an increased sense of frustration, embarrassment and disruption of normal activities. In addition to these symptoms, a reduction in the force and caliber of urination is also characteristic of prostatic enlargement. These problem only continue to get worse, increasing in incidence to include about 80% of all males past age 70 and is considered to be a normal consequence of aging.
Between the ages of 20 to 50, problems with the prostate usually are associated with infection known as prostatitis. This may include symptoms of high fever, chills, a sense of fatigue, frequent and painful urination. Prostatitis may become a chronic condition, resulting in burning on urination, frequency of urination and a mild but irritating perineal pain. Prostatitis is associated with infection by a variety of organisms and often accompanies increased amounts of sexual activity, especially if there are multiple partners. Infection which is untreated or unrecognized can result in reinfection of the partner.

What is the prostate gland and why is it doing this to me?
The prostate gland lies between the bladder and external urethra and secretes a thin, milky white fluid which is high in citric acid, calcium, acid phosphatase and zinc. In addition to its function in the packaging and delivery of sperm, the prostate acts as the genital urinary systems first line of defense against infection. Enlargement of the prostate is caused by an abnormal over growth or swelling of tissue which blocks the urethra or opening from the bladder. This in turn is the cause of symptoms associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy, prostatitis or cancer.
Contrary to belief, benign prostatic hypertrophy does not necessarily develop into prostatic cancer, the second leading form of cancer in males. Rather, they are felt to be two independent processes which can cause similar symptoms. One of the problems with cancer of the prostate lies in the fact that it may be present without any detectable symptoms until its later stages. This of course can lead to its continued growth and subsequent spread throughout the body.
While there are many treatments for these conditions, they are often uncomfortable and have many undesirable side effects. Use of a few simple herbal medicines in conjunction with dietary changes offers the best alternative to standard drug and surgical therapy.

Prevention recommended by American Cancer Society.
It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that males over the age of 40 receive yearly examinations for the presence of prostatic enlargement and cancer. Prostatic cancer is the second leading form of cancer in men in the Unites States. Reluctance to undergo examination on the part of many men often causes early treatment to be postponed allowing the condition to become worse. It is only after symptoms become unbearable that many men will seek treatment. Early detection has become much simpler and more refined with the introduction of a few relatively non invasive diagnostic procedures such as blood testing, ultrasound diagnosis and urinalysis.
Under normal conditions, the cellular tissue of the prostate produces a protein termed prostatic specific antigen (PSA), so named because it is found only in the prostate gland. With increasing growth or hypertrophy, the levels of PSA will also increase in relative proportion. The nice thing about PSA is that its level can be measured by a simple blood test which makes it a good screening procedure for excess growth of the prostate. Prostatic specific antigen is also elevated with cancer of the prostate but is not diagnostic of that condition. Used in conjunction with the serum prostatic acid phosphatase level (PAP) and findings on physical examination, cancer of the prostate may often be eliminated as a cause without further testing.

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 About The Author
Thomas A. Kruzel N.D. is a Naturopathic Physician in private practice in Portland, Oregon with an emphasis on family practice, geriatric medicine and diseases of the urogenital tract. He is an Associate Professor of......more
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