BPH (Enlarged Prostate)
6 Natural Remedies for Enlarged Prostate (BPH)
The Prostate Grows
The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that wraps around the urethra. It’s part of a man’s reproductive system. One of its main jobs is to add fluid to sperm. Although the gland starts out small, as a man ages it can grow. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Eventually, an enlarged prostate can clamp down on the urethra, restricting the flow of urine from the bladder. This leads to problems such as frequent urination, urine leakage, and urinary tract infections.
Read on to get your prostate back to good health the natural way.
Enlarged Prostate Treatments
There are several treatment options for an enlarged prostate. Men can take alpha 1-blocker drugs to help relax the prostate muscles, antibiotics for chronic prostatitis (which may occur alongside BPH), or dutasteride or finasteride for reducing BPH symptoms. They might also undergo surgery to remove the extra prostate tissue. There are also natural remedies that work to combat prostate growth. However, the evidence is mixed on whether these treatments work. The American Urological Association currently does not recommend any herbal therapy for managing BPH. If you do want to try any of these natural remedies, talk to your doctor first.
Saw palmetto is an herbal remedy that comes from a type of palm tree. It’s been used in traditional medicine for centuries to relieve urinary symptoms, including those caused by an enlarged prostate. A few small studies suggested that saw palmetto might be effective for relieving BPH symptoms. However, when larger studies were conducted, they didn’t find saw palmetto any more effective than an inactive pill (placebo). Saw palmetto is safe, though, and it doesn’t cause any serious side effects.
This prostate remedy is a mixture taken from different plants that contain cholesterol-like substances called sitosterols. Studies have found that beta-sitosterol can relieve urinary symptoms of BPH, including the strength of urine flow. There haven’t been any major side effects reported with the use of beta-sitosterol, although doctors still don’t know all the long-term effects of this natural remedy.
Pygeum comes from the bark of the African plum tree and has been used in traditional medicine to treat urinary problems since ancient times. It’s often used to treat BPH symptoms, especially in Europe. Because studies on pygeum haven’t been well designed, it’s hard to know for sure whether it’s effective. The studies that have been done have found that it helps reduce the number of trips to the bathroom—both during the day and at night. Pygeum is safe, but it can cause stomach upset in some people who take it.
Rye Grass Pollen Extract
Rye grass pollen extracts are made from three types of grass pollen—rye, timothy, and corn. In studies, men who were taking rye grass pollen extracts reported an improvement in their symptoms compared to those who were taking a dummy pill. This supplement seems to be especially helpful for preventing the need to get up during the night and use the bathroom. It can also help men urinate more completely, so there is less urine left in their bladder afterwards.
You’ll know if you’ve accidently touched the common European stinging nettle, as hairs on its leaves can cause a sharp jolt of intense pain. But stinging nettle can have some benefits when used as a medicine. Nettle root has been found to lessen BPH symptoms, and is widely used in Europe. Sometimes nettle is used in combination with other natural BPH remedies, such as pygeum or saw palmetto. Side effects from nettle are usually mild, including upset stomach and skin rash.
Foods to Treat BPH
Eating one type of food or another probably won’t prevent BPH or relieve its symptoms, but a healthy diet can help. One study in Urology found that men who ate a lot of cereals and some types of meats had an increased BPH risk. A diet that is low in starches and meats, and high in vegetables and polyunsaturated fats seems to be best for preventing BPH and relieving its symptoms. Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may help too.
Going the Natural Route
It’s important to remember that just because a supplement is labeled “natural” doesn’t always mean it’s safe. The FDA doesn’t regulate herbal remedies like it does drugs. That means you can’t be totally sure that what’s listed on the label is inside the bottle. Also, herbal remedies can cause side effects, and they can interact with other medicines you take. Check with your doctor before trying any natural supplement.
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- BPH: Management. (2013). Urology Care Foundation (American Urological Association). Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=144
- Bravi, F., Bosetti, C., Del Maso, L., Talamini, R., Montella, M., Negri, E., et al. (2006). Food groups and risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urology, 67(1), 73-79. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16413336
- Grass Pollen Extract. (2013). NYU Langone Medical Center. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21770
- Nettle. (2013). NYU Langone Medical Center. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21815
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- Pygeum. (2013). NYU Langone Medical Center. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21851
- Rye grass pollen extracts. (2012). BestHealth. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://besthealth.bmj.com/x/topic/392698/article-treatment/469281.html
- Saw Palmetto: Science and Safety. (2012). NCCAM. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/palmetto/ataglance.htm
- Wilt, T., MacDonald, R., Stark, G., Mulrow, C., Lau, J. (2000). Beta-sitosterols for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2000;(2):CD001043.