Anti aging guide

Herbal Supplements for Prostate Problems



How herbal supplements could be used to reduce the prostate problems for men in old age

Apart from strong prescription drugs, there are also several herbal supplements which aim to reduce the symptoms of BPH.

Saw Palmetto:

One of these is the extract of the plant Serenoa repens or Serenoa serrulata. It is also called the American dwarf palm tree or saw palmetto (Permixon). In several experiments it was found to reduce inflammation of the prostate and improve the symptoms of prostate enlargement. It reduces the number of times the sufferer has to get up to pass urine during the night.

A German study of over 2,000 older men found that saw palmetto stimulates the emptying of the bladder and increases a general feeling of well-being.

One of the ways saw palmetto works has only recently been clarified. It blocks the enzyme called 5a-reductase, which helps convert testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is a molecule which binds to prostate cells, causing them to grow and resulting in BPH or eventually cancer of the prostate. So, by blocking the enzyme, this conversion doesn’t take place and the prostate cells are not stimulated to grow dangerously out of control. This implies that saw palmetto takes time to work (30-45 days) and needs to be taken for long periods to maintain the blockage of the enzyme. If saw palmetto is stopped, then theoretically the reaction will be free to go ahead.

The side effects, stomach upset or indigestion, are rare. The recommended dose is 160mg twice a day and this is suitable for mild to moderate cases of BPH.

Some trials comparing saw palmetto with the prescription drug Proscar found that apart from causing more side effects, Proscar was 20 per cent less efficient than saw palmetto in improving the symptoms. Other trials found the two treatments to be equal. Yet others found no benefits for saw palmetto. These are early results and more trials are needed for confirmation. If you are taking any medication for prostate problems, don’t change it without a doctor’s advice.

African Plum (Pygeum africanum):

Other plant extracts used in prostate problems are African plum and nettle root extracts. These are sometimes used together in different products which are currently on the market.

African plum extract is taken from the bark of the African plum tree. It is believed to be active against swelling of the prostate and several trials are currently under way to confirm or reject this.

Nettle Root (Urtica dioica):

Too much unbalanced oestrogen has been associated with increased growth of the prostate. Nettle root has been found in some experiments to block the formation of new oestrogen molecules in several ways, plus block the binding of existing oestrogen to the prostate cells. So, its mechanism of action is different from saw palmetto and scientists recommend taking both together to experience the full effects. Some experts recommend taking it only if you are at risk from prostate disease and not otherwise.

There are several preparations using extracts of nettle root, but very few scientific trials to support its use. In one trial using a six-month combination treatment with saw palmetto and nettle root there was a mild improvement of prostate problems as compared to no treatment at all. The researchers suggest that the combination needs to be taken for at least one year for the full effects to be seen.

African Star Grass:

Finally, African star grass (Hypoxis rooperi) improves flow of urine and helps empty the bladder effectively. It also improves the quality of life in BPH sufferers. In one trial, the improvement was maintained for 12 months after stopping the treatment.

Other researchers, although noting that patients felt better while on the supplements, were unable to find any changes in the prostate which could be measured scientifically. More trials are needed to prove this one way or another.

Other Treatments for Prostate Problems:

Additional treatments for BPH are:

• homeopathic treatment with apis mel, belladonna and pulsatilla tablets
• hydrotherapy, involving showering the lower abdomen, alternating three minutes with hot water and one minute with cold water
• nutritional measures, using the plant chemicals isoflavones and lignans (found mainly in soy), as research shows that these may be able to balance the hormones which affect the prostate and block excessive production of hormones which stimulate the prostate to grow

Posted by Carol Hudgens - March 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm