Natural treatments for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)

When I was a small boy, I had some pretty antisocial habits. One of these was to engage in wee-up-the-wall competitions with my mates. A recent discussion over the dinner table reveals that this practice was commonplace amongst little lads of my generation. Alas, though, it appears that now we have grown up, peeing games seem somewhat less appropriate. While maturity have something to do with this, it occurs to me that another factor may be at play; enlargement of the prostate gland can cause urine stream to slow to a frustrating dribble, making juvenile watersport contests a non-starter for many men. In addition to a piss-poor stream, a blockage in the waterworks can give rise to other troublesome symptoms including the need to get up at night to discharge the bladder, and perhaps a spot of dribbling after the event too. Happily, dietary and other natural strategies can bring welcome relief to men suffering from an oversized prostate.

The prostate is a walnut sized gland that surrounds the first part of the tube that takes urine from the bladder to the outside (the urethra). After about the age of 50, the prostate gland can enlarge, usually as a result of a condition called benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH for short. While BPH is the most common cause of prostatic enlargement, prostate cancer is a possibility too. For this reason, men exhibiting symptoms of an enlarged prostate are best advised to seek medical advice in the first instance.

BPH often responds to an entirely natural approach. From a nutritional perspective, certain healthy fats in the diet known as essential fatty acids found in foods such as nuts and seeds do seem to be important for prostate health. Another nutrient that is believed to contribute to prostate health is the mineral zinc. One food that contains useful quantities of both essential fatty acids and zinc is pumpkin seeds. A couple of studies examining the effect of pumpkin seed extract therapy on the symptoms of BPH have produced promising results. Eating a handful or two of pumpkin seeds each day might just help to keep the symptoms of BPH at bay.

Another remedy that is popular in natural health circles for an enlarged prostate is the herb Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). Some of this herb’s action on the body seem to be mediated through the hormone testosterone, a hormone that some scientists believe is an important factor in BPH development. Saw palmetto helps to slow the conversion of testosterone into a more potent version of this hormone called dihydrotestosterone. Saw palmetto has also been found to block the action of dihydrotestosterone on the prostate. More than one study has found that Saw palmetto has the ability to control symptoms of BPH in the long term. In fact, the available evidence suggests that it is as effective a treatment as the most commonly prescribed drug for BPH known as finasteride (Proscar).

In practice, I tend to recommend supplements that combine a lot of prostate-healthy substances to men with BPH. One of my favourites is Prostate Support. This supplement contains Saw palmetto, zinc and pumpkin seed oil in addition to a number of other natural substances that may help control BPH including the herbs stinging nettle and African pygeum. Prostate support is available by mail order by phoning 020 8795 3730. Experience shows that natural remedies have much to offer men suffering from BPH, especially for those with an urge to express their inner child.

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