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Great herbal supplements for dealing with prostate cancer

Updated on June 19, 2013

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. It normally occurs in older men and if detected early one can be able to get treated and recover successfully from it. Treatment for this illness includes chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and hormonal therapy.

When it comes to treating prostate cancer, there are certain factors that are put into consideration towards deciding the type of method to use for treatment. One is the size, which is based on how large the tumor is. A good illustration is that when the tumor is relatively small doctors prefer to go for surgical removal of the prostate gland or the diseased part of it. This procedure is also known as decisive radical prostatectomy.

Hormonal therapy in cases of Prostate Cancer

In cases where the tumor is excessively large there is an approach towards decreasing its size and slowing the rate of its growth. This is in a bid to prevent it from spreading to neighboring healthy tissue. A good way of approaching this is by administering hormonal therapy.

This kind of therapy is referred to as androgen deprivation therapy which involves stopping the body from producing the male hormone testosterone. This helps because research has proven that the prostate cancer cells rely heavily on this male hormone to grow. This is because of products of the testosterone hormone, from the testes, known as DHT or dihydrotestosterone and from the adrenal glands known as dehydroepiandrosterone.

This approach can be two fold. One approach is to remove the testicles surgically to stop the production of testosterone. The other approach is to interrupt the secretion of DHT by use of chemotherapy. By cutting off production of testosterone in the male body, the prostate cancer is forced to slowdown in growth while some of the cancer cells die off altogether. This ultimately reduces the size of the tumor.

However in men who have early stage prostate cancer this approach can be used to help in shrinking the cancer so as to embark on radiation therapy. This means that the cancer cells to be dealt with will be much smaller in size. This will ultimately mean less radiation therapy for the patient to go through as its effects can cause a certain degree of unpleasant effects.

This hormone therapy in certain cases is also used after certain therapies have been done. This includes surgery and radiation. This is in a bid to slow down the growth of any cancerous cells which have been left behind after the treatments. In some cases, it also kills them off entirely helping to keep the cancer from recurring.

Unfortunately, the effects of the hormone therapy can only hold for a maximum of two years or less. After this, the cancerous cells begin to grow again. This means that this is just a delay tactic and patients have to undergo radiation or surgery to complete the cure.

Radiation therapy for prostate cancer

Radiation therapy is also referred to as X-ray therapy. This is where high amounts of radiation are used on the cancer cells to stop them from growing. However, this is done while ensuring there is minimal damage to the healthy cells. Radiation therapy is carried out in two ways. There is external radiation and internal radiation.

External radiation is done by producing radiation from a machine from the outside of the body directed at the prostate gland. Internal radiation involves inserting radioactive material through thin plastic tubes into the cancerous area of the prostate gland within the body.

This is commonly referred to as brachytherapy. The radioactive material is inserted continuously into the tumor until the required dose is reached or on a permanent basis with a good example being Radioactive Seed Implants. This treatment may not be successful in men with large prostate cancers as the seeds cannot be placed in all the areas that the radiation is needed. However to increase chances of success patients undergo hormonal therapy to decrease the size of the tumor.

There is another approach to internal radiation, which is also referred to as high dose rate brachytherapy. Here, needles are put into the section between the male anus and scrotum. Inside the needles are soft catheters. These are left in position as the needles are drawn out. The radioactive substance is then placed in these catheters for a certain amount of time after which it is removed.

Normally it takes from 5 to 15 minutes based on the size of the tumor being worked on. The patient receives a maximum of three of these treatments over the course of a number of days after which the catheters are removed. It is necessary to note that these two therapies can be used together with external radiation in cases where the cancer has spread past the prostate gland.

External radiation therapy involves regular sessions over the period of 8 -9 weeks. During this time at least five times a week, one is expected to undergo the treatment. An X-ray is done on the first day of treatment and every week thereafter. This helps the therapist to know that the therapy is working on the right area. However these x-rays cannot be used to know how well the therapy is working.

A specific and much beneficial form of radiation therapy to mention is 3 –D conformal radiation therapy. It uses computed tomography which is the use of X-rays to produce detailed pictures of the body and three dimensional images of the tumor to be dealt with. This allows the radiation to be aimed at the tumor from different directions and at precise points to keep from affecting any healthy tissue.

Combating prostate cancer through diet

However no matter what form of treatment is chosen by an individual what one puts into the body and puts their body through plays a vital role in how the cancer will affect the individual, whether they are under treatment or not. This involves diet and lots of exercise. The fitter one is, the more they are likely to beat the illness, and the better they are likely to cope through it.

Diet involves eating lots of fruit and vegetables. Unhealthy fat especially animal fat should be avoided. This is because it has been seen to cause prostate cancer. A healthy diet also reduces the chance of one being overweight which is also known to increase the chances of getting cancer. However along with diet and exercise there should be healthy supplementation. This may be in the form of vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements.

Supplementation and Prostate cancer

It is impossible for one to get the maximum amount of nutrition they need when it comes to diet. This is where supplementation comes in. It involves taking pills or capsules and sometimes liquid concoctions to give the body essential nutrition that it may be lacking. However it is necessary to note that this should not be used as an easy way out from eating food to get the needed nutrients. Ultimately the body adopts the nutrients from real food better; they are also exceedingly complex as they contain numerous micro nutrients that may be hard to get in the form of a supplement.

However not many people are happy about using chemicals in their body’s. This is essentially a vital part of conventional medicine. For this reason, they end up taking an option of using health supplements which is essentially herbs, vitamins or minerals packaged for daily intake.

Saw Palmetto and prostate cancer

One good herb for dealing with prostate cancer is saw palmetto. This is also referred to as the American dwarf palm tree. Its berries are used in the supplements, and it is extremely beneficial when it comes to dealing with any urinary problems resulting from an enlarged prostate gland. It can be found in the form of a liquid as tablets or pills, in the form of an extract and as a tea infusion.

It is first of all notable because it does not interfere with the results of a PSA test. This means that frequent tests to ascertain the effects of PSA test and to determine the progress of a prostate cancer will not be hampered by the use of saw palmetto.

Saw Palmetto can be beneficial when it comes to treating prostate cancer. It has been proven that saw palmetto’s action, when it comes to treating prostate cancer, is similar to some conventional medication being used for treatment of certain prostate problems.

Saw palmetto significantly reduces the levels of DHT in the prostate which is a key factor when it comes to causing the enlargement of the prostate. Another substance that is found in this herb is the insulin-like growth factor (IGF -1) which has been known to reduce an enlarged prostate. Saw palmetto also helps to deal with urinary tract infections. All these different ways of optimizing prostate health mean it can be used as part of a solution for treating prostate cancer. The healthier the prostate gland the higher the chances that cancer can be inhibited from growing bigger. It also means that treatment will be faster, and the patient will have to deal with significantly less trauma when it comes to the uncomfortable aspects of treatment such as chemotherapy.

Stinging Nettle for Prostate Cancer

The other beneficial herb when it comes to treating prostate cancer is stinging nettle. This is available in the form of leaves to be made into tea, tinctures to be mixed with water or in the form of a dry root. This herb is known to be great for the treatment of prostate problems. It has a diuretic effect which causes increased urination in men. For those who have a problem with their prostate especially when it comes to difficulties this can be a terrific help. It can also reduce the growth of the prostate gland which is a good solution against prostate enlargement.

Pygeum, a herbal supplement for prostate cancer

The other herb that can be used to deal with prostate issues is pygeum which originates from South Africa and is derived from the bark of the African plum tree. This herb can be used to optimize prostate health. Its roots are beneficial when it comes to management of bladder problems as well as promoting the health of the prostate gland.

However extracts from the bark work well when it comes to decreasing the frequency of urination at night while helping to increase urine flow in cases of impediment due to an enlarged prostate. It contains an ingredient known as beta-sitoserol which is also present in stinging nettle and saw palmetto and is well known for achieving optimum prostate health. It works by suppressing the production of a substance known as dihydrotestosterone. This is a hormone that plays a vital role when it comes to the enlargement of the prostate. In this way, it helps to deal with problems of prostate enlargement.

Pygeum also contains atraric acid which is a substance that is thought to be helpful in fighting prostate cancer cells. To benefit from it, one can choose to take a pure Pygeum supplement or take a supplement that contains Pygeum as part of its ingredients. It can also be used in conjunction with other beneficial herbs for the prostate.

One more beneficial herbal remedy for dealing with prostate cancer is green tea. Green tea is quite popular for dealing with cancer in general and is a product of the camellia sinesis plant. It works by stopping the functioning of free radicals in the body. This is extremely beneficial because free radicals are known to play a crucial role when it comes to causing cancer. This is a benefit occurring from the presence of beneficial properties known as catechins in the leaves of green tea. These are phytochemicals which may seriously inhibit the development of prostate cancer.

Chinese herb for prostate cancer

The Chinese herb ban zhi lian also known as barbed skullcap tea is another herbal option. Although tea made from it can be used to fight a number of ailments, it has also been seen to slow down the growth of prostate cancer tumors. One only needs a cup of the brew as it is quite potent

Milk thistle is another beneficial herb when it comes to fighting prostate cancer. This is a plant belonging to the daisy group of plants. It also contains beneficial phytochemicals which are perfect for dealing with prostate cancer. This phytochemical is known as silybin, and it is beneficial because it keeps prostate cancer cells from reproducing, hence increasing in number and making the cancer serious.

As indicated above, when it comes to dealing with prostate cancer by using herbs, there are two ways. This is promoting the health of the prostate gland and reducing the power of the prostate cancer by inhibiting growth and annihilating cells. This can be approached as a two prong effect whereby a herb is used to perform each function.

The use of herbal supplements together with conventional medicine in treating Prostate cancer

However one cannot just sit back and wait for the herbs to work. One must endeavor to live a healthy lifestyle which puts one’s body at a better position to deal with and beat the illness. This involves exercising as much as the body will allow and eating lots of fruits and vegetables which are known to be high in antioxidants.

There is also a common problem of over using herbs in an effort to attain healing. For example, just because green tea has been proven to be effective when it comes to fighting free radicals it is not a license to over use it. Many people fall into the misguided opinion that as herbs are natural products they can use them as much as they like in order to speed up chances of healing their disease. This is not so, as too much of anything is poison, so is the taking of too much of herbs.

The question remains, should one let go of conventional medicine in favor of using herbs? This may be risky because these products are not regulated hence one may not know the exact composition of the herb they are using. In addition to this, as effective as herbs may be, they cannot address all the symptoms exhibited by an illness as they are not specifically formulated for its treatment alone. This is why it is advisable to find a herb that you can use in conjunction with your conventional medicine, as opposed to letting go of conventional medicine as a whole.

However should one choose to adopt this combination it ought to be done in consultation with one’s doctor. Doing personal research on a herb before taking it will help one to identify the side effects the drug can have on them. While they may not be harmful certain effects such as frequent urination due to diuretic effects of a herb can be uncomfortable.

In addition to this if one is suffering from a severe illness with life threatening capabilities herbal remedies should not be the first port of call. This is because conventional medicine has gone to considerable length through scientific research to identify drugs tailor made for specific health problems.

However the benefits of proven herbal remedies cannot be denied. They contain vitamins and minerals that are quite beneficial to the body whose composition cannot be attained by a single manufactured drug. The use of herbal products can also offer other benefits that may not even be connected to what you are treating. For example, one may be taking a herbal supplement for stomach issues and end up clearing migraines or experiencing less painful menstruation.

This capacity to provide many benefits to the body makes it a terrific option to use. Hence, the fact remains that it is beneficial to use conventional medicine in conjunction with safe herbal remedies for a better effect especially when dealing with cancers such as prostate cancer.

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