The condition of an enlarged prostate is exceedingly common in middle aged and older men. Whilst there are various medical treatments available, you can find natural remedies for an enlarged prostate which are cheap, safe and highly effective. Read on to find out more about this prevalent and annoying condition, and how to treat it at home.
What Is An Enlarged Prostate?
The prostate gland is found in men at the base of the bladder where it surrounds the urethra (the tube through which urine passes to the outside world). Typically this gland is about the size of a walnut. However, in older men, it is very common for this gland to become enlarged.
This condition of an enlarged prostate is knows as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Hyperplasia simply means proliferation of tissue, so BPH simple means non-cancerous growth of prostate tissue.
The diagram below shows the anatomy of a normal prostate gland, compared to that of an enlarged prostate. You can see how the enlargement can cause a partial blockage of the urethra and subsequent urinary symptoms.
What Causes An Enlarged Prostate?
Ah, therein lies the question!
Although BPH is the most common health problem affecting men over the age of 50 (half of men in their sixties report symptoms), the definitive cause has not been established. It is believed to be related to the changes in hormone levels that occur as a normal part of aging, but beyond that simple concept, opinion is divided …
One theory is that the prostate becomes more sensitive to testosterone, which causes the tissue to proliferate. A second theory suggests that it is due to the fact that testosterone levels decline with age, leading to an altered ratio of testosterone to estrogen.
It is thought that this relative estrogen dominance encourages the prostate to enlarge, similar to the situation in breast cancer.
But one does not need to know the exact underlying causative mechanism in order to take advantage of available natural prostate remedies!
Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
The first signs of prostate problems usually relate to a restricted flow of urine. The prostate surrounds the tube-like urethra, and any swelling of the prostate can cause constriction of this tube-like passage.
Resulting symptoms include feeling the urge to empty the bladder more often (day and night) and sometimes a weakened urine flow which makes it difficult to start urinating.
Other early signs of prostate problems are caused by the uncomfortable inability to empty the bladder completely, or interrupted urine flow once urination begins. Dribbling at the end of urination is also not uncommon, and is again related to the impeded flow of urine.
As the prostate continues to enlarge, the degree of urinary retention may become serious. This can lead to other symptoms and complications related to the urinary tract, such as urinary tract infections, kidney problems, bladder damage and badder stones.
Best Treatment for an Enlarged Prostate
It’s not always easy to determine which is the best treatment for an enlarged prostate as it will depend upon the individual circumstances.
There are several conventional treatment options available. A prescription drug, such as finasteride, is usually the first line of treatment. These drugs help to reduce the size of the prostate, and so reduce the incidence of symptoms. However it’s important to realize that whilst the medication may manage the condition, it will not cure it. It is there fore necessary to remain on drug treatment indefinitely.
It’s also a fact that all drugs are associated with side-effects. You may simply be swapping one symptom for another … for ever!
Given that BPH is not a rapidly developing or life threatening condition, it may be well worth your while to try the natural remedies for an enlarged prostate first. You have time!
And in some cases, the natural remedies have been shown to be just as effective as drug therapy – without the side effects!
So, what are the natural remedies for BPH?
Natural Remedies for an Enlarged Prostate
The herb saw palmetto is the “gold standard” for the natural treatment of enlarged prostate. Saw Palmetto is an ancient herbal remedy for the treatment of urinary problems, and in recent times has undergone extensive research as an effective remedy for BPH.
The oil extracted from the berries of the saw palmetto plant contains plant sterols (including beta-sitoserol) as well as various free fatty acids. These compounds have been shown to inhibit the negative hormonal activity in the prostate, and also to reduce inflammation and swelling.
In this way saw palmetto helps to treat the immediate symptoms, inhibit further proliferation of prostate tissue and ultimately reduces the size of the prostate.
And the best thing is that it has no side effects, no contraindications and it can be taken for as long as needed.
Traditional healers in Africa have used the bark of the pygeum tree (African plum) for thousands of years to treat urinary complaints. Anecdotally, pygeum has been shown to boost urinary flow, reduce frequency and enhance bladder emptying. The extract of this bark has now been shown effective in clinical trials for BPH.
Here just one of the many studies on this herb from PubMed (click on the heading):
Many clinical trials have used 100mg to 200mg per day of a pygeum extract product called Tadenan. This productis widely used in Europe and available online. However, there are a number of other products available.
No, this is not a joke. Pumpkin seeds have been found highly effective in preventing prostate enlargement!
Pumpkin seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, essential to the health of the prostate. Other active ingredients include the plant sterol beta-sisterol and other plant compounds called cucurbitacins. These molecules inhibit the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.
Why is this important?
Dihydrotestosterone leads to prostate enlargement by encouraging the production of additional prostate cells. Reducing production of this metabolite therefore helps treat and prevent prostatic enlargement.
The Lancet described a study in which men taking 20mg of beta-sisterol (as found in saw palmetto and pumpkin seeds) 3 times a day experienced a significant easing of urinary problems.
If you’re wondering how to eat pumpkin seeds, dried pumpkin seeds are delicious as is, or as part of a snack mixed with nuts. Alternatively they can be ground and sprinkled over cooked vegetables, or they can be mixed with wheat flour and used in cooking and baking.
Dose: An effective dose would be sixty to ninety grams of pumpkin seeds per day.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia does not necessarily require radical treatment. Before opting for surgery or a life-long regime of powerful drugs, consider the natural alternatives.
The remedies described above are some of the most important to consider in order to treat BPH naturally, with their effectiveness having been clinically proven.
However, with just a little research you’ll be able to uncover many more substances claimed to be effective in treating BPH. Some may, others may not. As always, do your homework. Check out the evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, before deciding on a course of action.
If you have used any of the remedies above I’d love to have your feedback. If you have any questions on treating an enlarged prostate with alternative remedies, please let me know. Just leave a note in the comment box below.
Here’s to a healthy prostate 🙂