- Men's Health & Wellness
Prostate Enlargement - A Natural Approach
Prostate Enlargement - Symptoms and Causes
The prostate is a gland that many people don’t know much about; not even where it is, on occasion. It is a gland located in the groin, surrounding the urethra (the tube leading out of the bladder through the penis) and its function is to produce various chemicals that are essential for the viability of sperm cells.
Unfortunately, as it surrounds the urethra, any inflammation or unusual growth of the prostate gland can cause partial or complete blocking of the urethra. This can be very uncomfortable and, if the blockage is complete, dangerous.
Also unfortunately, prostate enlargement is fairly common in men over maybe 40; approximately 50% of men over 50, rising to 75% of men over 75, have some degree of enlargement of the prostate. About half of those have clinical problems related to the prostate.
The symptoms of prostate enlargement are mostly related to urination. They include difficulty in urination, frequent urination, pain on urination, incomplete emptying of the bladder and an increased risk of urinary tract infections. In an extreme case urination may become completely impossible; this is a medical emergency, as a completely blocked urethra can lead to damage to the kidneys, kidney failure and even rupture of the bladder.
It ought to be noted that the symptoms of BPH, at least in the early stages, are very similar to those of prostatitis (inflamed prostate, normally caused by infection) and cancer of the prostate. If only because of this, symptoms that look like an enlarged prostate should be investigated by a professional. Early stage prostate cancer is relatively easy to treat; in the later stages it is very difficult indeed and may be impossible. Best, then, not to let it get that far.
The cause of prostate enlargement is the gradual change in hormone levels with increasing age. Specifically, as a man gets older testosterone levels decrease and the levels of prolactin and dihydrotestosterone increase. This, in turn, increases the reproduction and growth rates of prostate cells; eventually, this leads to an enlarged prostate.
Another contributory factor is decreased absorption and metabolism of zinc and omega-3 fats with increasing age. Both of these suppress abnormal prostate growth, so lack of either or both can exacerbate the abnormal growth caused by the changing hormone levels.
Both these problems are made worse by consumption of large amounts of alcohol, which increases zinc excretion and impairs the metabolism of essential fats as well as impairing the absorption of both.
Natural Remedies for Enlarged Prostate
A programme to help an enlarged prostate by natural means involves correcting the deficiencies and imbalances mentioned above. This includes supplementation of the missing nutrients and also nutritional and botanical supplements which help the hormone imbalances.
Also, the usual basis for a natural healing programme applies. This consists, essentially, of removing nutritionally poor rubbish from the diet – which means less (preferably no) packaged, pre-prepared food full of unnatural chemicals, fried food, white bread, refined grains and sugar and more fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Specific dietary changes to address an enlarged prostate include more seeds and nuts, particularly pumpkin seeds. Seeds and nuts are particularly high in zinc and essential fats.
Supplements for Enlarged Prostate
Zinc and essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3 fats such as fish oil or linseed (flaxseed) oil, are useful for an enlarged prostate. A particular point about zinc is the form in which the supplement comes. Zinc picolinate is much better than other forms because it is better absorbed; this is particularly important in men of the age to have prostate problems, because picolinate is the chemical secreted by the pancreas in order to bind and absorb zinc in the diet and this process is less efficient the older one gets. Approximately 15-20mg per day of zinc and 1000-2000mg of a fish oil supplement are needed.
Three amino acids (glutamic acid, L-alanine and glycine) have been shown to help in various controlled tests. This is presumably because these specific amino acids are particularly important for the health of the prostate. There are commercial supplements with this mix, but simply ensuring sufficient high-quality protein in the diet will probably do.
The two main botanicals for an enlarged prostate are Pygeum africanum and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). Pygeum suppresses inflammation specifically in the prostate; saw palmetto works rather differently. Saw palmetto contains natural plant steroids which block the prostate gland’s receptors for dihydrotestosterone. This in turn reduces the tendency of the prostate to expand.
Finally, just to re-emphasise a point; symptoms of an enlarged prostate are very similar to the symptoms of other problems that are much more dangerous. For this reason alone, if you think you have a problem with your prostate then get it looked at. It is a slightly embarrassing problem, but an enlarged prostate is also extremely common; your doctor has seen it all before.