How Safe is Your Bladder from Benign Prostate Hyperplasia?
Does waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom A LOT sound familiar?
If you’re a man over forty, chances are you’ve experienced the all-too-common symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Frequent urination, especially in the middle of the night, is the signature of this annoying but essentially harmless condition. Other symptoms include interrupted or weak stream of urine, a pressing urgency to urinate, leaking, and/or dribbling.
Annoying as it is, BPH is not usually dangerous.
But urine retention and strain on the bladder can lead to more serious problems, including bladder damage, kidney damage, bladder stones, urinary tract infection, and the inability to control urination.
Catch BPH early and there’s a much lower risk of such complications.
Fortunately, there are some easy and natural ways to bring relief. I’ll tell you about those in a minute. First, let’s look at why this irritating problem happens in the first place.
It’s the Hormones!
Though we don’t know the exact cause of BPH, it’s widely believed that it’s fueled by hormones, specifically testosterone and its metabolites.
Some testosterone is converted in the body to a nasty little metabolite called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is thought to be partly responsible for male baldness, and a high conversion of testosterone to DHT in women is thought to be connected to a host of “male” symptoms like hair loss (on the head) and hair growth (on the face).
This conversion to DHT—in both men and women—is fueled by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. Saw palmetto helps to down-regulate this enzyme, meaning a reduction in the amount of DHT.
Saw palmetto also contains compounds that act as anti-inflammatories.
That’s why saw palmetto is the “go-to” herb when it comes to taming the urge to pee every few hours.
The Power of Saw Palmetto…
A three-year study in Germany found that 160 mg of saw palmetto extract taken twice daily reduced nighttime urination in 73 percent of people and improved urinary flow rates significantly.
Another multicenter study showed that a similar amount of the herb treated BPH as well as the drug Proscar, but without the side effects.
Other Helpful Supplements…
Although saw palmetto is the superstar nutrient for prostate health, four other supplements have also been found to be helpful.
Pygeum is an extract from the bark of an African tree and is approved in at least three countries in Europe as a BPH remedy. It relieves symptoms of BPH and contains at least three types of compounds (including beta-sitosterol, listed below) that help the prostate.
Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol found in almost all plants, especially in rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils, and soybeans. In clinical research it’s been shown to help lower blood cholesterol, but more to the point, it’s also been shown to reduce the symptoms of BPH.
Four double-blind, placebo-controlled studies that included 519 men and lasted from 4 to 26 weeks concluded that beta-sitosterol significantly improved urological symptoms and flow measures.
Nettles are frequently combined with other “prostate herbs” like saw palmetto and have long been believed to have a beneficial effect on prostate health.
One recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study in a 2005 issue of the Journal of Herb Pharmacotherapy found that it had beneficial effects, and other studies have also been encouraging.
Pumpkin seeds have a well-deserved reputation as a prostate-friendly food and are an approved “therapy” for men with BPH in Germany.
In a few studies, pumpkin-seed oil has been shown to have a good effect on BPH symptoms, but no good research shows that they work by themselves. However, you can use pumpkin extract in combination with saw palmetto in supplements for prostate health.
Although the research on zinc for BPH is spotty, most complementary and holistic health practitioners recommend it. That’s because zinc is absolutely essential to prostate health.
Prostatic secretions contain a high concentration of zinc. Zinc also tones down the activity of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, which, you may recall, fuels the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. (And let’s not forget that stress depletes zinc like crazy, so many individuals may be low to begin with.)
“Whatever you do, if you have an enlarged prostate along with the usual symptoms, don’t reach for that saw palmetto without picking up the zinc and essential fatty acids too,” says the noted teacher of nutritional medicine Alan Gaby, M.D.
Gaby and others usually recommend beginning with a large amount of zinc (typically 50–100 mg a day). Since that dose of zinc can conceivably lead to an imbalance in copper, Gaby and others also add 2–4 mg of copper. “After several months, the dose is typically reduced to 30 mg once or twice a day, depending on the patient’s response,” says Gaby.
The good news is that you can get all of the remedies in supplement form. We’ve looked at basically every version and brand on the market, and below you’ll find our top recommendations for supplements that will help you address BPH.
This is our top recommendation for prostate health—an elegant blend of saw palmetto, nettles, pygeum, pumpkin seed extract, and other synergistic nutrients.
This special formula is highly absorbable and balanced with copper to maintain the proper zinc/copper ratios.
And since Dr. Gaby thinks essential fatty acids are an important part of a prostate health program, let us also suggest Barlean’s Ultra Potency EPA-DHA for those of you who are not already taking a high quality fish oil (omega-3) product. Just two caps provide well over 1,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA, the two most important omega-3 fats.
Try these supplements and, hopefully, you’re late night bathroom visits will be at an end.
Wishing you health and happiness,
The Rockwell Nutrition Team