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Protect Your Prostate

Foods, nutrients, and lifestyle habits that increase- and decrease-your odds of developing prostate problems.

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Every man has a prostate, but every prostate doesn’t have to make every man miserable. This all-too commonly bothersome gland is the source of a lot of grief as men age. Still, there are steps that can be taken to help it last a lifetime.

The source of prostate misery is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which involves a slow, continual enlargement of the prostate gland. As the gland swells, it compresses the urethra, obstructing urine flow, resulting in weakened urination, night urinary urging, urine retention, and pain. About 90 percent of men older than 85 have some evidence of BPH, but only half of them will have painful prostate enlargement. One theory on BPH focuses on the levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the prostate. In vitro experiments indicate that saw palmetto may inhibit DHT from binding to cellular receptors, reducing DHT’s ability to make prostate cells grow.

Clinical observations show that BPH is becoming more common in Japan. Those who consume more meat and milk appear to be at greater risk. A Finnish study from 2000 found that meat consumption increased lower urinary tract symptoms (hesitancy, incomplete emptying, incontinence, nocturia, and daytime frequency), and vegetable intake decreased these symptoms. Ayurveda maintains that a multipronged approach is likely to be successful. Maintaining the health of the reproductive system will stabilize testosterone levels and sexual desire. Ayurveda will also focus on promoting the unobstructed flow of urine, easing the pressure on the genitourinary tract, boosting immune function, and purifying the urine to avoid infections, and preserving the normal size of the prostate. The prostate is sensitive to the accumulation of cellular wastes, so detoxifying programs are necessary to prevent problems. Using herbs that purify the urine (turmeric, cumin, fennel) can help.

Zinc is critical for prostate function. Black pepper, cumin, and coriander increase the bioavailability of zinc.

Since BPH results in nighttime urinary dribbling, using diuretics during the day, and then abstaining from water in the evening can reduce nocturnal pilgrimages to the bathroom. Use a tea of holy basil leaf and coriander seed.

Maintaining proper bowel volume and movement regularity is necessary. Testosterone-enhancing foods, such as asparagus, bananas, and dates will delay prostate swelling. A few other foods have general benefit for the urinary tract. Most are diuretic. Included are dandelion greens, beet greens, coconut, grapefruit, and melon. Amla, turmeric, and guggul are anti-inflammatory, if inflammation is a paramount symptom. Inflammation is often, but not always signified by pain, particularly after sedentary periods, and can also be assessed through a urinalysis.

One possible formula would be equal parts ashwagandha, gokshura, and shatavari. Use 6 to 10 grams per day of this mixture, in a vehicle appropriate to the condition.

Remedy 1: Saw Palmetto Berry
Saw palmetto, an obscure herb just a few years ago, comes from the fruit of a small scrub palm tree that grows in Florida. But this waste plant provides a potent medicine that eases the symptoms of BPH. In fact, saw palmetto is as effective as finasteride (Proscar). Finasteride acts by inhibiting conversion of DHT to testosterone, and impotence is a common side effect. Saw palmetto does not cause impotence and acts through multiple pathways (anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-DHT, etc.). Saw palmetto has a noticeable lack of reports of toxicity or interactions. As far as is known, it appears to be safe. Bladder emptying problems are common in older men. As well as its effect on the prostate side of this problem, saw palmetto also relaxes smooth muscles in the bladder neck.

The active ingredients in saw palmetto are fatty sterols that are usually standardized to 85 percent in most products. Saw palmetto often appears in a mixture designed for prostate support. People use saw palmetto berry in capsules at a dose of 320 to 640 milligrams twice daily of the extract, standardized to 85 percent fatty sterols.

Remedy 2: Punarnava
The aboveground, herbaceous portion of this common Asian plant is a diuretic. A widely valuable herb, it has nutritive and support qualitiesfor the entire the body. In addition to being an effective diuretic, punarnava is antispasmodic and an anti-inflammatory agent, with analgesic qualities for urinary tract conditions. Unlike most diuretics, which cause some tissue wasting by definition, punarnava is a rejuvenating tonic remedy. This herb is perfectly designed
for prostate problems. Use 4,000 milligrams per day with hot water.

Remedy 3: Nettle Root
Yes, this is stinging nettle. But we’re going to use the root. No stingers there. Nettle root is being recognized as an effective medicine for the prostate and has a complicated, but measurable, effect on human sex hormones. Numerous recent scientific studieshave shown the benefit of this herb in inflammatory conditions of the prostate, including BPH.

Product Examples (left to right)

New Chapter Prostate 5LX. All-natural ingredients include saw palmetto and selenium to promote healthy prostate function and normal cell growth and urine flow, and to modulate 5-lipoxygenase.

American BioSciences HP8 Herbal Prostate Support Formula combines eight herbs proven to support prostate health. Manufactured using pharmaceutical-industry standards to ensure potency and purity.

Himalaya USA ProstaCare. This clinically researched formula has been shown to maintain a healthy prostate including urinary function. Capsules are 100 percent kosher and vegetarian.