|Botanical|| Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)
| ||One of the most well-known and time-honored herbs for prostate problems is saw palmetto. Saw palmetto has been tested in clinical trials and results show that the berries improve signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate. During the trials, benefits were recorded for symptoms such as difficulty in urination, frequent urination at night, urine flow and size of enlarged prostate. |
In all cases, the treatment was free of side effects. Scientists believe the main benefits may be due to the ability of some constituents in saw palmetto to inhibit the enzyme 5-reductase in the body. This enzyme converts the hormone testosterone to DHT. DHT is five times more potent than testosterone in stimulating the enlargement of the prostate.
In a 2001 study of 85 men (aged 45 years or older) with lower urinary tract symptoms, treatment for 6 months with a saw palmetto product improved urinary symptoms, but had no effect on urinary flow rates. [Urology 2001;58(6): pp.960-963]
Pygeum (Pygeum africanum)
| ||The literature on P. africanum for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia is limited by the short duration of studies and the variability in study design, the use of phytotherapeutic preparations, and the types of reported outcomes. However, the evidence suggests that P. africanum modestly, but significantly, improves urologic symptoms and flow measures. Further research is needed using standardized preparations of P. africanum to determine its longterm effectiveness and ability to prevent complications associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. [Am J Med. 2000 Dec 1;109(8):654-64]|
Nettle (Urtica urens)
| ||Reports claim that as many as 80% of European men with BPH are given the option of herbal remedies for their symptoms, including saw palmetto and stinging nettle roots, rather than medication or surgery. Studies in people suggest that the root of the stinging nettle, in combination with other herbs especially saw palmetto, may be an effective treatment for BPH, relieving urinary symptoms such as reduced urinary flow, incomplete emptying of the bladder, post urination dripping, and the constant urge to urinate. These symptoms are due to the enlarged prostate gland pressing on the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder). Laboratory studies have shown stinging nettle to be comparable to finasteride (a medication commonly prescribed for BPH) in slowing the growth of certain prostate cells. However, unlike finasteride, the herb does not decrease prostate size.|
A metabolite of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) stimulates prostate growth, leading to enlargement. Nettle root inhibits the binding of DHT to attachment sites on the prostate membrane.
Cernilton (Flower Pollen)
| ||Radix urticae is another plant investigated for its beneficial properties in treating benign prostate hyperplasia. Much less information is available on radix urticae compared to saw palmetto and what little there is comes from eastern Europe, but there are a few reports that suggest radix urticae extracts may help improve symptoms. [Romics 1987]|
| ||Pumpkin seeds have long been used by naturopathic physicians in treating prostate disorders. The efficacy of pumpkin seeds is thought to be due to their high content of essential fatty acids, zinc and plant sterols. Men with BPH have used 160mg tid with meals of a standardized pumpkin seed oil extract in trials to examine its usefulness. Animal studies have shown that pumpkin seed extracts can improve the function of the bladder and urethra also.|
| ||Coffee consumption was found associated with an increased risk of BPH in a study of 882 randomly selected men 65-80 years old. [BJU Int 2002;90(7): pp.649-54]|
| ||Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced risk of BPH. [BJU Int 2002;90(7): pp.649-54]|
Conventional Drugs / Information
| ||Finasteride (Proscar or Propecia) is a medication that helps shrink the prostate in many men. This can lead to improvement of symptoms.|
| ||Males also produce progesterone, although only about half as much as females do. Progesterone prevents the body from converting testosterone to di-hydro testosterone. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Progesterone inhibits 5 alpha reductase more effectively than Proscar and saw palmetto which are the more standard agents employed in traditional and natural treatments for BPH. The dose of natural progesterone for men is 10-12mg per day (5-6mg bid) applied topically. Men do NOT need to cycle like premenopausal women and can safely take the progesterone daily.|
| ||Zinc supplementation has a clearly documented usefulness in shrinking an enlarged prostate. Research has shown that zinc and essential fatty acids are important to help prevent prostate problems that affect men as they grow older. Many studies confirm that a lack of these two nutrients in the diet could be associated with prostate enlargement.|
Zinc has been found to inhibit the activity of 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that irreversibly converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, a form which binds more avidly to the prostrate and stimulates greater growth. It also decreases prolactin secretion by the pituitary gland, thus decreasing its binding to the prostate, both of which prevent prostatic enlargement.
Essential Fatty Acids
| ||The administration of an essential fatty acid (EFA) complex containing linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids has resulted in significant improvement for many patients. All 19 subjects in an uncontrolled study showed diminution of residual urine, with 12 of the 19 having no residual urine by the end of several weeks of treatment. These effects appear to be due to the correction of an underlying EFA deficiency, since these patients prostatic and seminal lipid levels and ratios are often abnormal. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is derived from evening primrose oil and borage oil, appears to be a powerful 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor.|| |
Alopecia: Loss of hair.
Antioxidant: A chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, beta carotene, the minerals selenium, zinc, and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids, like cystiene. Other nutrient sources include grape seed extract, curcumin, gingko, green tea, olive leaf, policosanol and pycnogenol.
Benign: Literally: innocent; not malignant. Often used to refer to cells that are not cancerous.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Constipation: Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry, hardened feces from the bowels.
DHT: Dihydrotestosterone - a highly active form of testosterone, which influences many aspects of manly behavior, from sex drive to aggression. The conversion from testosterone to DHT is driven by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which is produced in the prostate, various adrenal glands, and the scalp.
Enzymes: Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.
Estrogen: One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.
Fatty Acids: Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.
Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.
Hypertrophy: Increase in the size of an organ due to enlargement of its cells; frequently with a corresponding increase in functional capacity.
Prostate: The prostate gland in men that surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra and produces a secretion that liquefies coagulated semen.
Protein: Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.
Testosterone: The principal male sex hormone that induces and maintains the changes that take place in males at puberty. In men, the testicles continue to produce testosterone throughout life, though there is some decline with age. A naturally occurring androgenic hormone.