An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH affects millions of men globally. It happens mostly to men over 50, and is the enlargement of the prostate, a part of the male anatomy which surrounds the urethra – the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis. Those who have BPH endure a host of symptoms caused by the urethra being squeezed by a too-large prostate gland.
Though men as young as 30 can experience BPH, the risk is much greater as men age. It is estimated that 80-90 percent of men who are 70 or older suffer from an enlarged prostate with complications. Typically, an enlarged prostate is “expected” for an aging man, but this needn’t be the case.
The prostate can become enlarged for many reasons:
- A bacterial infection causes it to swell
- Stress, caffeine, nicotine, over-work, and a poor diet lead to inflammation of the prostate
- Infrequent ejaculation causes the ducts to become clogged with secretions
- Backed up urine when voiding may cause slight prostate inflammation to become worse
- Hormonal The prostate converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), another powerful androgen, and DHT stimulates cell growth in the tissue that lines the prostate gland. Prescription drugs, stress, and other diseases like diabetes can contribute to hormonal imbalances that cause BPH.
Symptoms of BPH include:
- Difficulty beginning to urinate
- Urine dribbles out after you feel you have voided your bladder completely
- Your stream of urination is small and weak
- You have the need to urinate frequently
- You need to stop and start peeing many times
- You strain when peeing
- You wake up frequently at night to urinate
- It feels as though your bladder isn’t empty even after you urinate
Allopathic Cures for BPH
Many treatments for BPH are offered by allopathic medicine, from lifestyle changes to surgery. A doctor usually diagnosis the condition and its severity before making recommendations based on your age, health, and how the condition affects you.
Alpha Blockers are often prescribed to help those who suffer from BPH, however, they come with many unwanted side effects.
Common Alpha Blockers prescribed are:
- Alfuzosin (Uroxatral)
- Doxazosin (Cardura)
- Prazosin (Minipress)
- Silodosin (Rapaflo)
- Tamsulosin (Flomax)
- Terazosin (Hytrin)
These medicines can cause:
- Sudden drops in blood pressure when sitting up or standing up
- Swollen legs or ankles
- Tiredness, weakness or lethargy
- Sleep disturbance.
- Rash or itchiness of the skin
- Erectile dysfunction
Surgery is also sometimes prescribed, however, many are unsuccessful, and can have multiple complications. Transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP is the most common surgery for an enlarged prostate. In the United States, with about 150,000 men have TURPs each year. TURP involves removing obstructing prostate tissue with electric current or laser light.
Natural Approaches to BPH
There are numerous natural approaches to an enlarged prostate, including the use of herbs, reducing inflammation through the diet, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and more.
These approaches are less expensive, less invasive, and usually aim to correct the underlying issue associated with the formation of an enlarged prostate. They also have no unwanted side effects.
Enlarged Prostate and TCM
Generally, this disease is considered to be associated with the disturbance of sexual hormones according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. The main manifestations are uroschesis and difficulty of urination. It belongs to the category of (retention of urine) in TCM.
In addition to the usual symptoms of BPH, a TCM Practitioner might observe:
- Scanty dark yellowish urine
- Fullness of the lower abdomen
- Dry mouth
- A red tongue with yellow greasy fur
- A taut and rapid pulse
A TCM practitioner will work to clear away pathogenic heat and dampness, removing blood stasis and activate the stuffy urethra. Chinese herbal remedies like knotweed, pyrosia leaf, windweed rhizome, phellodendron bark, climbing fen spore, aristolochia stem, rhubarb, and capejasmine fruit, to name a few, will be administered.
Also, a kidney deficiency will be corrected, as the kidneys and bladder are paired in TCM. Acupuncture, and moxibustion may also be utilized for this purpose.
Herbal Remedies for Enlarged Prostate
There are also numerous herbal remedies which have been successful for the treatment and prevention of an enlarged prostate.
- Beta-Sitosterol – a mixture of plant compounds that contain cholesterol-like substances called sitosterols.
- Pygeum from the African Plum Tree – this herbal remedy helps with both prostate health and to support the proper functioning of the bladder.
- Rye Grass Pollen Extract – There are a few scientific reports proving that this herb can reduce hormonal imbalances that may cause urine to become trapped due to an enlarged prostate.
- Stinging Nettle – This herbal remedy works by lessening swelling caused by inflammation.
Food Remedies for Enlarged Prostate
Studies suggest men with an enlarged prostate have a zinc deficiency. Pumpkin seeds may help due to their high zinc content. They are also a natural diuretic.
Avocadoes may help due to their high levels of beta-sitosterol. This is a cholesterol-like substance that combats inflammation, causing your prostate to shrink.
Reducing caffeine, refined sugar, unhealthy, man-made fats, and highly processed foods can also help since these all contribute to inflammation in the body. Some of the most anti-inflammatory foods you can eat regularly include:
- Turmeric root
- Sprouted seeds
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate (without lots of sugar)
- Most berries
Stress Reduction for an Enlarged Prostate
Stress has been linked to many disease thought to have a root cause of inflammation as their source. Chronic stress leads to immune cell changes that turn your body’s natural healing response against itself – causing swelling and inflammation when it isn’t needed to combat a pathogen or to heal a wound.
Normally, inflammation is a good thing – a natural way that the body helps to heal us or stop a cold or virus, but chronic inflammation can cause a host of disease, from depression, to cancer, to an enlarged prostate.
Some experts even go as far as to say that stress and chronic inflammation are the root cause of all disease.
Try yoga, meditation, spending time with friends, being outdoors more often, or even just deep breathing to balance your body’s reaction to stress in your world.
More Tips for Reducing the Incidence of BPH
Other factors which may contribute to toxicity and inflammation in the body should be addressed to minimize the chances of an enlarged prostate.
- Check to see if you have any food allergies (gluten and dairy are common) which are contributing to systemic, chronic inflammation.
- Reduce environmental toxins (herbicides, pesticides, chemical toxins in personal care products, heavy metals, and chemicals in the air, water, soil, food, etc.) Complete a periodic cleanse to be sure that your body’s organs of detoxification are not overburdened. Toxicity leads to chronic inflammation. You can also try a detoxifying diet which consists of predominantly vegetables, with a rice or sweet potato side. Fruit or seeds can be snacks. Vegans can focus on nuts, but hemp seeds, chia seeds and oils are a good substitute for soy, which is not recommended due to its estrogenic qualities.
- Stay hydrated. Reduce the consumption of soda, sports drinks, coffee, etc. that add calories but don’t keep you well-hydrated. This will also ensure that you are urinating frequently, which can help flush toxins and bacteria that might be trapped in the urethra.
- Get moderate exercise, consistently. This ensures an oxygen-rich blood flow to the prostate and other organs, as well as reduces chronic inflammation which could contribute to BPH.
- Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep also leads to hormonal changes that can cause BHP, and chronic inflammation. Resting for an entire day can reset your adrenal glands and help you to balance your entire hormonal system, while also lowering cortisol, a stress-hormone linked to chronic inflammation.
BPH, or an enlarged prostate can be a very uncomfortable disease and this makes it difficult to be patient with while natural remedies are applied, however, tackling the problem of chronic inflammation will ensure that the prostate stays healthy, along with the rest of the body. The natural approach also means that you can avoid expensive, invasive surgeries, medications which are damaging to the body, overall, and not put your future sexual potency at risk.
By taking immediate steps to get better sleep, eat a better diet, exercise often, and reduce your stress, you will likely start to feel better. Herbal remedies and Traditional Chinese Medicine may also offer more immediate relief while the body’s immune system resets itself.
Though thought to be a “typical disease of the aging man, there is proof that proper prostate care can prohibit BPH from occurring at any age.