A man’s prostate gland continues growing throughout his life. That’s why older men are more likely to have issues with enlarged prostate. This condition is called benign enlarged prostate, which isn’t the same thing as having prostate cancer. These are two separate health conditions that are treated in different ways. Benign means noncancerous. However, even without cancer, an enlarged prostate can cause discomfort and complications.
Benign enlarged prostate is the most common problem for men over age 50. Men with this condition experience bladder troubles that include: frequent urination, involuntary loss of urine, a weak stream of urine, and pain during urination or after ejaculation.
If your symptoms aren’t severe, your doctor may recommend regular checkups for a period before deciding on medical treatment. The main form of medical treatment involves prescription drugs from these two categories: alpha blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. Alpha blockers reduce symptoms by relaxing the muscles in the prostate and bladder and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors work by blocking the hormone that makes the prostate grow.
Some treatments and herbal supplements that can help manage your symptoms are available over the counter (OTC). However, The American Urological Association does not recommend or recognize these treatments for managing benign enlarge prostate. If you’d like to try one of the treatments listed below, you should still consult your doctor.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications that help lower inflammation. Common types are aspirin and ibuprofen. These drugs are often taken to reduce arthritis symptoms and prevent heart disease. Some research also suggests that men who already take NSAIDs regularly may be improving their prostate health. However, there is not yet enough evidence to recommend that you start taking them regularly specifically to treat enlarged prostate.
2. Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is an herbal supplement that’s made from the fruit extracts of the saw palmetto plant. It’s one of the more popular herbal remedies used to treat urinary problems, including enlarged prostate. You can find it in pill form or as a liquid extract.
A range of 100 to 960 mg daily has been used to treat enlarged prostate, but according to the National Institutes of Health, a few studies have shown it to be effective. As a result, saw palmetto is one of the most commonly recommended natural remedies. However, more research is still needed in order for it to be officially accepted as a treatment in the medical community.
Pygeum is a supplement made from the bark of the African plumb tree. The extract has been used for many years to treat enlarged prostate. It works as an anti-inflammatory and may have positive effects on the bladder as well. One small study found that, when combined with other herbs, pygeum might help reduce issues of frequent urination in people with enlarged prostate. More clinical trials are needed in the United States to determine its effectiveness.
4. Rye Grass Pollen
Rye grass pollen is an extract made from the pollen of rye grass and timothy. The supplement is thought to be helpful in lowering the urge to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. One study showed that rye grass pollen may be effective in reducing symptoms like frequent urination and nighttime urination.
5. South African Star Grass
Extracts of South African star grass are used for medical purposes because they contain beta sitosterols. Plant sterols like these are thought to reduce inflammation and improve urine flow in men with enlarged prostate. You can also find beta sitosterol in some yogurts and margarines. There is some evidence to suggest that beta sitosterol may actually be effective in treating urinary symptoms related to enlarged prostate.
6. Red Clover
Red clover is a plant that’s flower tops are used to make herbal supplements to treat a variety of conditions, including enlarged prostate. The supplement may help reduce nighttime bathroom trips for men with enlarged prostate, but there isn’t enough evidence to prove that it’s effective.
7. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is a plant with a long medicinal history in Europe. Its leaves have fine hairs that cause sharp pain when they touch human skin — that’s how it got the name stinging nettle. The leaves and root are also thought to have medicinal benefits. In Europe, the root is often used to treat enlarged prostate. Some believe it can help increase the flow of urine in men with enlarged prostate. However, there isn’t solid clinical research to support its effectiveness, and one 2007 study concluded that more research is needed.
8. Pumpkin Seed Oil
Oil extracted from pumpkin seeds can be purchased in capsule form. One study found that pumpkin seed oil is a safe and may be an effective alternative treatment for enlarged prostate. Researchers used a dose of 320 mg per day over the course of 12 months. The pumpkin seed oil was more effective than the placebo in improving symptoms and quality of life.
It’s important to note that herbal supplements aren’t prescribed by doctors to treat enlarged prostate. They also aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the above medications should be used in place of medical treatment from a doctor.
If you aren’t getting relief from symptoms that are interfering with your daily life, it might be time to talk to your doctor about prescription medications. There are two types of drugs that have had success in treating benign enlarged prostate. Your doctor will need to do an exam and see which is the best choice for you.