Prostate Problems

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Family history

Having had a grandfather who died with (not of) prostate cancer and a father who has a potentially serious prostate cancer right now you can be assured that I take this subject very seriously and keep up with the medical literature as well as closely observe how my male patients with prostate problems respond to what we do and what seems to help the most.

As you will already know if you have been doing some research into this area, both the diagnosis and treatment of prostate problems contains complex and dissenting viewpoints out there, especially in relation to the various treatment options available -- surgical, pharmaceutical, along with the more natural kind of approaches such as those I use in my own clinic. So, such as they are, these are my own thoughts on this somewhat gnarly subject; I hope they are of some help to you, fellow man!

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Benign prostatic hypertrophy

I have now met a great many men who are suffering from the symptoms of an enlarged prostate in some form or another. Ageing imposes numerous indignities on the flesh and for men it is practically a statistical guarantee that, so long as you live long enough, your prostate will eventually swell to a point that you start noticing it!

I won't go into the science and symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) here as this information is already well published from numerous sources but what I do want to talk about are several of the factors that seem to cause or at least worsen BPH as well as outline some safe and practical steps that seem to make it better in the majority of cases where those causes are addressed.

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Metabolic syndrome

Top of the list for me when it comes to thinking about possible causes for prostate problems is the metabolic syndrome. There is a well proven connection between the excess insulin levels of the metabolic syndrome with factors that drive up the male hormone levels that contribute to both BPH and prostate cancer.

If, along with whatever urinary symptoms you might get, you have any or all of these --

a) a tendency to a round belly (i.e. the 'apple' shape)
b) a tendency to high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
c) a diet that has plenty of refined carbohydrates in it (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta etc.)

-- then consider the real possibility that you have the metabolic syndrome and that this may be the key driver for the prostate to be getting overly enlarged.
The metabolic syndrome is very common and entirely treatable so long as you are ready to take the necessary steps with your diet -- you can read about all this in practical detail here

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Zinc deficiency

Research has shown that people with BPH have a much higher likelihood of being deficient in zinc. For example, in a 2011 study put out by the Indian Journal of Urology 83% of the men with prostate cancer had lower than normal levels of zinc and 61% of the men with BPH had lower than normal levels -- the full study may be found here if you copy it into your browser http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114577/

You really don't need a lot of zinc to correct a deficiency and the old folk-recommendation of eating plenty of pumpkin seeds may well have helped because of the especially high zinc levels in this food. Egg yolks are another excellent source of zinc and you should know that eating eggs truly is good for you (more info about the gnarly subject of cholesterol here). That said, if you would prefer to simply take a supplement then in most cases a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral will have the 15 mgs of elemental zinc that you need per day to be sure to getting enough.

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Herbs for BPH

If zinc intake is good and there are no issues with the metabolic syndrome then the prostate may simply be enlarging as a part of the normal ageing process. If this is the case then there is much to be said for the use of certain herbs that have been well-proven (including in my own clinic) to markedly reduce the symptoms of night-time wakening, difficulty stopping urine flow etc.

Nettles

Top of the list of herbs, at least for my practice, is the herb Nettles, which may be taken in a variety of forms to help. Some practitioners believe the seeds are the best part to use, others the roots and others the traditional leaves.
I have not yet been able to work with the seeds due to a lack of availability but I have found both the root and the leaves to be excellent, so long as they are taken in a good daily dose for long enough to start seeing a difference (best measured over a few weeks rather than just a few days). You can read more about this humble but remarkably helpful herb here

Burdock

Second on the list for me is the deep cleansing action of Burdock. This is the root of a common herb that has been famous since antiquity as a 'blood-purifier'. If taken in moderate doses over a good time frame, I see that Burdock has a profoundly deep tonic and restorative action on the urinary tract system as a whole. You can read more about it here

Juniper

Just as Burdock cleans the blood so does Juniper cleanse the kidneys. You really have to take a course of Juniper yourself to feel how it works through the urinary tract.
Juniper clearly has a stimulating effect on kidney function in general with the net result that, if taken consistently, you will almost always hear the patient saying they are sure it is helping them. I'm not sure that Juniper shrinks the prostate in any way but by improving urinary function in general it can provide a significantly better outlook on the whole issue. Read more about it here.

Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto has had a lot of press for prostate problems and I have certainly used it over the years but there has been doubt cast over its usefulness by some recent clinical studies and, given I have pretty much always also used some zinc and herbs such as Nettles at the same time I just can't say how much the Palmetto may or may not have been helping...


Urtica dioica (Nettles)

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Prostate cancer

Some of the herbs etc. mentioned above may well improve the symptoms and general outlook for prostate cancer but now of course we are dealing with a much more worrying prospective and all options, including the serious medical interventions, need to be considered. If this is a problem for you then I'm sure you know by now that many prostate cancers are extremely slow growing and that there is a legitimate 'wait and watch' approach that many clinicians, including urologists, will advocate.

Given this is often the position men find themselves in there is certainly a very strong argument for looking at what kinds of steps may be genuinely helpful to at least prevent the development and spread of the cancer, if not to even give ourselves a chance to even beat it back. For some men this is where the use of hormonal drugs comes into place and, whilst this may be a good option for some, I have certainly seen in practice how for some men the side effects are too disruptive to their daily lives for them to continue on in good conscience. There are legitimate options.


Echinacea angustifolia

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Immune health

Having worked with quite a few men who have been given a serious prostate cancer diagnosis and then seen those same men continue on for many years with no worsening of their symptoms or PSA levels I can say for a fact that supporting and strengthening the immune system definitely does make a difference to the long-term outlook for prostate cancer.

These herbs and nutrients are really just a starting point to give you a sense of the terrain. Immunity is a big subject that is affected by all aspects of your health and life-style. Read a more holistic overview of the topic here.

I extensively use a dark-field microscope in my work that allows me to look in great detail at well over 1000 times magnification at the health of the various types of white blood cells that fight cancer as well as invasions from microbes. Both from the use of this microscope as well as seeing positive long-term outcomes I can especially attest to the excellent effects on immunity from several key immune herbs:

Key immune herbs

Echinacea: read more about this great American Indian herb here
Astragalus: more about this well tested and proven Chinese here
Reishi: more about the immune boosting mushroom here

Of course there are other natural medicines. Omega-3 fatty acids have good levels of evidence for reducing the inflammation that can be such a driver for cancer and there are many other nutritional medicines that may be of support. For example a product we make in our clinic called Life Greens (sorry but this is not for retail sale) covers many of the bases that can be of support to immunity. You can read about what's in it here -- be assured that all these ingredients will readily be available elsewhere.

Lastly, especially when it comes to serious cancer, there are some things which are better out in the open than left to speculation, please feel free to read the gist of my thoughts on our collective foe here.

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Coffee & the prostate

I guess it's obvious that prostate cancer doesn't come about because of a deficiency in coffee but it's nonetheless intriguing that studies clearly show you are significantly less likely to get prostate cancer if you regularly drink coffee. If you are anything like me and find that the caffeine part of it can quickly be a bit more agitating than you prefer then it has been shown that decaffeinated coffee is just as effective... and why not? Coffee is a herb no more or less than any other plant we use for its effects. You can read more about this in an article copied here.

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Constitutional health note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general as well as what might potentially help your prostate health. As it happens the majority of the patients I have personally worked with who have bad problems with their prostate have been Tigers but in any case there is a brief introduction to this great subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!

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© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd