For all the women about to skip to the next page, not so fast. The probability is high that you know at least, one man. According to the American Cancer Society, of the 400,000 or so men that will undergo surgery for prostate disorders this year, 41,800 men will die. I can hear you thinking, “I don’t even know 41,800 people.” To put this in perspective lets think about Pan Am jet 103 that was blown up over Scotland by terrorists in 1987. The world was in an uproar over the 273 victims. It would take 153 jet crashes, a year, to equal the previously mentioned mortality. Unfortunately, statistics such as these don’t make interesting front page news. Often, neither do alternative solutions to health problems, so lets review exciting therapies that are at the forefront of scientific research.
So here’s what’s new. Plants! Actually, they have been around forever. What’s new is that scientists have discovered why specific compounds in certain plants work better than prescription medications.
One thing agreed upon by researchers is the mechanism behind what causes the prostate gland to go bad and grow. The growth of the gland starts the urinary problems. From here, more serious problems can occur. There is an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase that converts testosterone (not the Italian ice cream) to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). With less zinc available, the enzyme goes out of control and starts to build up large stores of DHT, which triggers a gene to spur cellular growth. The bottom line is an enlarged prostate.
DHT also causes an increase in mitochondrial activity. Mitochondria are the engines of the cell, and like any other engine, they require oxygen. This requirement leads to an increase in oxidative stress. This is one of the reasons why antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, E, and the minerals zinc and selenium are recommended for prostate problems. These nutrients are good for more than just the prostate since most of our cells age in a similar matter( damage from excessive oxygen). This oxidative stress also causes a decrease in a different enzyme important to our immune system’s activity. To easily understand our immune system, picture an antibody as nothing more than a Glad bag. If you throw your garbage all over your lawn, the garbage truck will just roll on by your house. Put the Glad bag out front, and the garbage man happily picks up your trash. So, when there is an increased presence of DHT and/or a decrease of selenium, the enzyme gluathione peroxidase is decreased, slowing down Glad bag production. Simultaneously, the garbage truck is delayed with a flat tire. Without all the scientific hoopla, that’s pretty much what an impaired immune system looks like. Young men are prone to prostate infection so the antioxidants previously mentioned are a natural solution.
For those of you that are skeptical about the efficacy of natural healing, let me summarize one of twenty double blind studies. 90% of patients that took 160 mg of the herb Serenoa repens (saw palmetto berries) twice a day, for 4 to 6 weeks, experienced a significant decrease in all major symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH). Serenoa repens out performed Merck’s Proscar significantly. After one year on the Merck drug, only 37% of those unlucky test subjects received any benefit.
Another herb with a proven track record is Pygeum africanum, an evergreen found in Africa. For the past 20 years it has been used, in France and Italy, to treat BPH without the common dangerous side effects experienced from prescription drugs. Pygeum africanum contains plant sterols that reduce inflammation. Another group of plant chemicals are penntacyclic triterpenoids. These compounds act as a diuretic, providing a reduction in pain and discomfort. Pygeum africanum also contains unique forms of alcohol, which is thought to reduce cholesterol in the prostate. Antimicrobial activity has also been attributed to this plant; and since prostates are prone to infection, it seems this herb and organ were meant for each other. The efficacy for this plant is astonishingly high. In France, 95% of subjects studied, found relief from symptoms without having to undergo surgery. Many European countries have socialized medicine so they need to keep the cost of health down. These doctors are very open to natural alternatives. Although I don’t know them all personally, I feel I can get away with saying that because 81% of all prescriptions for prostatitis in France and Italy are for Pygeum Africanum, not pharmaceuticals. However, I did notice one side effect documented by an Italian researcher that may be of interest to you. Improved sexual function.
With all the talk about Viagra, I?ll assume I still have your attention. The really good news is Pygeum africanum does not cost $10 a dose. For those of you who want to know why Viagra costs so much, the answer is simple. Because the manufacturer knows a man will pay any amount to get his sex life back. Apparently, there are a few economical alternatives. Another one I just previously mentioned, Serenoa repens, also has a potent sexual stimulating effect. I didn’t forget about Ginseng and vitamin E, I’ll address them later.
If you have a prostate gland or care about someone who is an owner of one, here are some questions you may want to think about:
- Do you have hesitancy or difficulty beginning the stream of urine?
- Do you have a weak stream, with some stopping and starting?
- Do you have frequent urination, accompanied by a feeling that the bladder has not been emptied fully?
- Do you get up at night several times to urinate? (May not be valid for late night beer drinkers)
- Do you have dribbling at the end of urination?
- Do you have a distended bladder, causing abdominal swelling?
Just one of these symptoms, that are often ignored, can be indicative of prostatic hypertrophy. I don’t like to resort to scare tactics, but prostatic hypertrophy alone does not motivate many people, however, it is often followed by prostate cancer. Lets discuss other nutrients vital for a happy prostate gland.
Lycopenes, antioxidants found in tomatoes, quench oxygen free radicals. Picture free radicals as hungry sharks. They like to nibble at the electrons that orbit the outside of the oxygen molecule. Antioxidants feed the sharks before they ravage us. Unlike an antioxidant such as vitamin A, Lycopenes, do not get stored in the body for very long. They need to be replenished. No wonder there is a marked decrease of prostate disease in Italy. The really good news is, you don’t need to eat pasta 10 times a week and spend the rest of the year jogging it off. Lycopenes are available in supplements.
The one benefit of Ginseng that is agreed upon by all, is that it increases circulation. Since the advent of Viagra, it seems that a little increased circulation, down there, is all anybody wants these days. Ginseng also effects the endocrine system and we all know what hormones can do to a teenager. Case closed on Ginseng.
Vitamin E, known for improving sexual stamina has proven itself successful in reducing prostate cancer. Less than 20 years ago many medical professionals insisted that vitamin E was dangerous. Perhaps a few still do, but our own government now recommends it to help combat cancer.
When the prostate enlarges, the bladder does not empty all the way. Urine in one place for too long is prone to grow bacteria. Infections are quite common with prostatitis. The herb, Uva ursi, has been used for centuries by the Japanese to combat urinary tract infections. This herb has two active compounds: 1. Arbutin, effective for reducing prostate inflammation; 2. Phenolic acid, a potent disinfectant.
German studies have found that the herb Radix urticae, blocks the receptors for DHT, stopping it from enlarging the prostate. Other studies have shown the amino acids Glycine and Glutamic Acid, to be effective in relieving many symptoms of BPH.
I’ve mentioned just a few of the many nutrients available today that will cause a pesky prostate gland to behave itself. I realize some women will disagree with me, but men are not just prostate glands. America’s health continues to decline in all categories as we advance technologically. Less nutrients are available in our food than ever before, thanks to our modern farming system. I highly recommend consuming high quality supplements. Science will someday understand how they all work, but I don’t recommend neglecting yourself until they do.