Men’s Health: Protecting the Prostate
The prostate gland is a small, walnut-sized organ located just under the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. The prostate has a dual function as part of the excretory and the reproductive systems. This small gland stays the same size throughout an adult male’s life until the male hormones (androgens), the most predominate of which is testosterone, begin to decline and then the prostate begins to grow again. The most common condition associated with this growth is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH.
Testosterone levels decline steadily from a man’s fortieth year on, at the rate of approximately one percent per year. When testosterone production declines, the estrogen ratio increases (estrogen stimulates cell growth), and other male hormones synthesized from testosterone are thrown out of balance. One of these hormones is dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The enzyme 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone into this more potent androgen known as DHT. DHT is one of the causes of prostate enlargement (BPH), acne, and male-pattern baldness as well as, in women, excessive facial hair growth.
As the prostate swells or grows, it begins to press on the urethra and may start acting like a clamp. This can cause the urination flow to decrease, the bladder can become irritated and start to contract independently even if it only contains a small amount of fluid. Over time the bladder weakens, the urgency and need to urinate becomes more frequent, leakage and only partial emptying of the bladder combine to create many of the symptoms linked to BPH. Symptoms are seldom noticed before 40 years of age though the majority of men start to feel the effects in their 50’s and approximately 90 percent of all men will have symptoms in their 70’s and 80’s.
There appear to be many factors contributing to BPH, the cause is not well understood and there is no known medical cure at this time. Yet, it is possible to naturally decrease the prostate gland to a healthy size through diet and supplementation. A whole-food diet based on organic vegetables, fruits, berries, whole grains, fish, soy products, flax and pumpkin seeds provide the most important building blocks for a healthy prostate. Many Asian countries have low rates of prostate problems, research suggests that this is linked to a diet low in saturated fat and refined sugar and high in essential fatty acids, soy foods and carotene-rich vegetables. Eating a nutritious diet may be the most powerful step toward good prostate health.
Certain herbs and extracts have been found useful in protecting and maintaining a healthy prostate. In Germany and Austria, physicians use plant medicines as the first treatment of choice in over 90 percent of cases of mild to moderate BPH. The most effective of these natural remedies are often found in therapeutic formulas especially developed for a man’s reproductive and urinary track health. For those men who may be suffering from painful or hesitant urination, urgency or inability to void, or need to frequently urinate during the night the following herbs, extracts, or vitamins maybe of interest.
Saw Palmetto Berry Oil Extract
Pygeum Bark Extract – 25% beta sitosterol
Stinging Nettle Extract 5:1
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine HCl)
Flaxseed Oil-Omega 3 essential fatty acids
Men of any age group can benefit from these natural supplements for the protection of the male reproductive system. Although BPH may not cause any problems in the lives of some men, in others it may cause considerable discomfort and concern. Many men find it embarrassing and uncomfortable to talk about it even with their doctor. Leaving these and other symptoms unchecked can have an enormous effect on a man’s health including decreased quality of life, hampered sexual performance, bladder infection, and kidney failure. For those men who do suffer from BPH and find the condition unbearable, there is help.
By: Rose Marie Pierce