We often hear about the prostate, but do we really know anything about it or even think about it until it decides to rear its ugly head? Basically, the prostate is responsible for secreting a milky-colored fluid that mixes with the seminal fluid. This fluid helps to aid the sperm in its journey down the urethra. Because the urethra runs right down the center of the prostate, when the prostate becomes enlarged it squeezes the urethra and inhibits the flow of urine. When this occurs urine backs up into the kidney and stagnates, which can cause some serious problems.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BHP) occurs in approximately 50 – 60 % of men between the ages of 40 – 59. With BHP the prostate becomes inflamed and causes pain and difficulty urinating. The condition tends to be progressive with the onset characterized by the stream of urine diminishing while the urgency increases. Often times these are the only symptoms that will evolve. However, in some cases the bladder never fully empties and the urine stagnates. This stagnant urine can cause urine to back up which can damage the kidneys or cause uremia. There are several theories that suggest BHP is caused by an accumulation of testosterone.
Another condition that is quiet common in older men is prostatitis. Prostatitis is an inflammation or infection of the prostate gland. Symptoms often include pain in the area of the prostate, difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder, chills, fever, and possibly blood in the urine. Quite often prostatitis can be attributed to other infections in the body or it can just be the product of poor diet, stress, and a lack of exercise.
Most often problems in the prostate can be avoided by following a few simple suggestions:
v Avoid holding your urine. Always respond when you get the urge.
v Avoid stress and learn techniques to relax.
v Drink plenty of water.
v Eat a healthy diet. Include seeds in your diet such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and poppy seeds.
v Get plenty of exercise.
v Exercise your prostate by engaging in meaningful sexual relationships in order to release built up testosterone and semen.
v Use Kegel exercise to tighten the pubococcygeal muscle, which in turn strengthens and tones the prostate gland.
If problems do arise there are natural methods for reducing the inflammation and restoring health to the prostate.
Certain herbs have an affinity towards the male reproductive system. Saw Palmetto is a specific for BHP by inhibiting dihydrotestosteron, which causes the prostate to enlarge by producing cells to multiply excessively. Saw Palmetto has nutritive, diuretic, and urinary antiseptic properties, which aid the genito-urinary, nervous, and digestive system. This herb helps to strengthen and tone the male reproductive system. Diuretics such as Hydrangea and Corn Silk help to prevent urine from building up in the bladder. Echinacea, Oregon Grape, and Uva Ursi are used when there is the possibility of infection. Marshmallow, Comfrey, Couch Grass, and Corn Silk are demulcent herbs, which help to soothe the tissue and protect the system from further damage.
Besides herbs, there are a number of minerals, which also aid the male reproductive system. Zinc is a mineral, which is specific for men. When a man ejaculates, he losses up to 10 – 15 mg of zinc. Zinc is also required by men to normalize testosterone production, to aid in fertility, to help build the immune system, and for prostate health. Selenium is needed for sperm production and also acts as an antioxidant protecting cell membranes. Lecithin, which is a mixture of fats is found in the pineal and pituitary glands, and is an essential component of semen. Carnitine is an amino acid, which helps to promote proper sperm motility.
When tending to the prostate, the best defense is an offense; In other words, prevention is the key to dealing with prostate issues before they arise. The suggestions above will help to ensure the health of the prostate, while helping to maintain the health of the individual.
© Natalie Vickery, June 2006
- Green, J. (1991). The Male Herbal : Healthcare for Men & Boys. Berkley: The Crossing Press.
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- Ritchason, J. (1995). The Little Herb Encyclopedia. Third Edition. Pleasant Grove: Woodland Publishing Inc.
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