The prostate gland is a small organ, located just below the bladder, which surrounds the urethra. Only men have prostate glands. In a young man, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. However, as a man ages the prostate enlarges. The two functions of the prostate are: help control urination and assist in sexual function. As the gland enlarges, both of these functions are hindered.
What is Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH)?
BPH is the medical buzz word for an enlarged prostate gland. By age 40, 10% of men exhibit prostate enlargement to some degree. By age 50, that number increases to 50%. As the prostate grows, it pinches off the urethra and makes it difficult for a man to urinate forcefully enough to totally empty his bladder. Because the bladder does not totally empty, he may feel a need to urinate more frequently. The telltale symptom of BPH is getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. However, do not self diagnose. If you suspect that you may have an enlarged prostate, see your doctor to rule out prostate cancer before trying any home remedies.
What are the causes?
Though some would say that this is a natural part of aging for all men, those from more developed regions have a higher incidence of BPH than their counterparts in other parts of the world. Although experts believe that changing hormone levels (that come from aging) is the main contributing factor, other things can cause flair ups of prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate). The most frequent cause is stress. Others include unhealthy diet, sitting for prolonged periods, alcohol, caffeine, sedentary lifestyle, or sexually transmitted disease.
Do herbal remedies help?
Over a decade ago, noted herbalist and retired ethnobotanist for the USDA James A. Duke, made a public declaration in front of members of the FDA and the National Institutes of Health that he would bet his own prostate gland that his herbal treatment would produce the same results as the newly approved pharmaceutical Proscar. The recipe for his Prosnut Butter is below.
In her book, Family Herbal, Rosemary Gladstar recommends the following foods and supplements for a healthy prostate:
- Pumpkin seeds (1/4 to ½ cup or more daily)
- Cucumbers (2 to 3 daily)
- Calcium/magnesium (600 mg combined daily)
- Vitamin E (400 units daily)
- Zinc (20 to 50 mg daily)
She also recommends blending watermelon, with the seeds, and unsalted pumpkin seeds for a cleansing drink.
In addition to these recommendations, you may want to eliminate saturated and hydrogenated fats, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Stinging nettles is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and diuretic that gives direct results for an enlarged prostate. Drink 3-4 cups of nettles tea daily.
- Saw palmetto is the herb of choice for the prostate. Take 320 milligrams of a standardized extract with 80-95% fatty acids each day.
- If you like to make your own remedies, mix equal parts nettles and saw palmetto for a tincture.
- James Duke’s Prosnut Butter: Mix in blender about ½ cup pumpkin seeds, the contents of one saw palmetto capsule and a few drops of licorice extract, until a smooth paste. Spread on crackers; eating a few tablespoons each day.
- Take 160 to 200 milligrams daily of a standardized extract of Pygeum. Look for one with 13% sterols.
In addition to these recommendations, many commercially prepared herbal formulas are available at your local health food store.
Duke, P. J. (2000). The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. Rodale Books.
Gladstar, R. (2001). Family Herbal. North Adams, Mass.: Storey Books.
Photo by Arty Smokes (deaf mute)