BPH is a common condition affecting many men, and is characterised by frequent urges to urinate, due to the inability to completely empty the bladder and a weakened urine flow. Prostate enlargement puts pressure on the urethra and may cause urinary tract infections and kidney damage if left untreated.
All prostate problems should be checked by a GP initially. This usually involves a simple rectal digital examination and possible follow up blood tests to measure PSA levels which may be an indicator for more serious prostate conditions such as carcinoma. Many men are reluctant to see a GP, resulting in a rather high rate of undetected prostate carcinoma which if caught earlier may not have been a problem. So men! bite the bullet and go and see a Doctor if you suspect you may have problems.
For troublesome BPH your GP may prescribe Alpha Blockers which work by relaxing the muscles around your bladder and prostate so that you can pass urine more easily.
There are also natural products which may be useful to provide support and relief for those men with simple BPH:
Saw Palmetto:This berry has always been recommended as a treatment for BPH, where the fat soluble extract of the berry is used, with the theory that saw palmetto inhibits 5-alpha-reductase,which is the enzyme that converts testosterone to the more active dihydrotestosterone (DHT) SawPalmetto also blocks DHT from binding in the prostate. This product may be useful to keep symptoms in check if used regularly.
A double blind 3 year German clinical trial was done using saw palmetto extract 160mg taken twice daily where it was found that a reduction in night time urination of over 70% and improvement in urinary flow occurred, and another trial concluded that 320mg once daily was just as effective. However, there have been 2 double blind trials which concluded that saw palmetto was less effective. There was no apparent reason for the anomalies in these trials but generally saw palmetto is usually included in natural prostate specific remedies.
Beta-Sitosterol: This compound, which is found in many edible plants, has also been indicated as being useful for men with BPH. A double blind clinical trial of 200 men with BPH was taken over a period of 6 months using 20mg of beta-sitosterol. It was found that the men taking the beta-sitosterol at a three times a day dose had a measurable improvement in urinary flow, whereas no improvement was noted in the placebo group.
Nettle:A concentrated extract from nettle plant root has been found to increase urinary flow and volume in men with early BPH.It is often combined with Saw Palmetto and Pygeum to provide support for those men with BPH
Zinc:A simple oral zinc test can be done to test zinc levels. (This is available in many health shops and pharmacies)
It is well known that zinc has a beneficial effect on prostate integrity and indeed many prostatic secretions are high in zinc. If a zinc deficiency is noted, then a zinc supplement may benefit the health of the prostate and theoretically improve BPH.
Pumpkin Seed Oil: Pumpkin seed oil is high in zinc, free fatty acids and plant sterols so it stands to reason that it may benefit BPH. Only preliminary trials have been undertaken with pumpkin seed, and these have shown favourable results.
Exercise: Being more physically active (walking, bike riding etc) may be useful as indicated in a study which found that those men who were more physically active (3 or more hours of moderate exercise per week) had lower BPH symptoms.