P for Prostate
By Dr. JJ Dugoua ND PhD
Or rather “pee” for prostate. In most men the prostate is just about forgotten until they have trouble with urination or it’s time for a prostate exam (digital rectal exam) at the end of a yearly physical. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of men will eventually need treatment for prostate problems. How much do you know about this time-bomb ticking away deep in the plumbing of every male?
Shaped like a chestnut, a healthy prostate gland weighs around 20 g and is located between the bladder and the penis. The posterior part of the prostate ends at the rectum, hence the digital rectal examination to verify the shape and size of the prostate. The prostate secretes a thin, milky, acidic fluid that make up 3040% of semen volume. The prostate also secretes nutrients such as zinc, amino acids, citric acid, vitamins and fructose that keep sperm healthy.
Although infertility problems can be due to poor prostate function, the 3 main prostate conditions are: enlargement, infection and cancer.
1. Enlargement (Benign prostate hyperplasia/hypertrophy)
After men hit 50, roughly, there begins a benign enlargement of the prostate gland as a secondary effect of male hormones. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When significant enlargement occurs, the prostate may pinch off the urethra making urination difficult or impossible.
2. Infection (Prostatitis)
A prostatitis is an infection of the prostate gland. The infection can be acute or chronic, bacterial or abacterial (fungal, viral). Prostatitis symptoms may vary from low back pain to intense burning or urination.
3. Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in American men. In 2003, it is estimated that 220,900 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States alone. Prostate cancer can be malignant (spread to surrounding areas) and metastasize (spread to nearby lymph nodes, bones or other organs). Prostate cancer treatment has improved significantly due to early detection. Early prostate cancer symptoms don’t usually cause symptoms, but be mindful of changes in urination (increased frequency, dribbling, hesitancy).
There are a number of herbs and supplements that have an affinity for the prostate. Here are some below.
1. Saw palmetto
Saw palmetto is the leading natural treatment for BPH. Saw palmetto inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to its more active form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is responsible for the enlargement of the prostate.
Zinc plays a large role in prostate function. Studies have shown that zinc supplementation helps shrink the prostate in patients with BPH. When supplementing zinc, always remember to supplement with copper as large does of zinc may deplete copper levels from the body.
3. Pygeum africanum
Studies have shown that Pygeum bark is safe and effective for men with BPH of mild or moderate severity.
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