|Alternative Treatments for Benign Prostate Problems (BPH, Prostatitis)
The advent and availability of valuable herbal extracts and phytosterols has spurred the Ayurvedic treatment of most all prostate-related maladies. But the popularity of these alternative remedies has also encouraged a cottage industry in which many natural products and supplements claim the impossible, marketed with superlatives like "Maximum," "Miracle," "Ultimate," "Guaranteed," and so forth. While herbal supplements can be effective, they cannot cure any diagnosed disease or accelerated problem. We've listed the most effective natural components (based on various studies, some of which can be found on this site), and briefly reviewed and recommended a few of the more credible supplements for prostate care containing these ingredients. Please note, we recommend these supplements be taken on a daily basis before any unfavorable diagnoses, used solely as an aid for regular function and the possible heading off of any future prostate-related trouble. These supplements are not intended to cure or prevent any disease.
Cernate is proprietary, and therefore a superior blend than its generic counterpart (known as cernitin or cernilton). Cernate is a pollen extract of rye grass, corn, timothy grass, pine, alder, and orchard grass, among others. It is used in benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), infections, prostatitis, cystitis, and to lower blood fats.
There are a number of compounds in its rye base, including cyclic hydroxamic acid, which prevents the growth of prostate cells. Other compounds include stigmasterol and quercetin. This effective Graminaceae pollen has been used for a generation in Sweden to enhance sexual capacity as well as strengthen the prostate. Made of natural, pure botanical seed extract, Cernate is harvested from inside the seed husk, stripped of all allergens, is toxin-free, and is proven to be safe and effective.
Saw palmetto has two very special and distinctive traits: one is its anabolic properties, that is, its ability to strengthen and build body tissue. Saw palmetto is one of the few Western herbs considered anabolic. The extract’s second important quality is its unique ability to prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT, the hormone thought to cause cells to multiply and bind to the prostate receptor sites, leading to an enlarged prostate. The extract is chiefly used as a diuretic and to tone the bladder by improving urinary flow and relieving strain. Regular use of saw palmetto may decrease urinary frequency, especially during the night, by allowing complete bladder expulsion and reducing inflammation of the bladder and prostate.
Lycopene is a carotenoid nutrient found in tomatoes (and everything made from them) and has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. Proven to be a powerful antioxidant, Lycopene appears to concentrate in the prostate area more so than in other parts of the body, making it an ideal supplement to prevent prostate cancer.
Pygeum is an evergreen tree found in the higher elevations of central and southern Africa . The powdered bark has been used as a tea for relief of urinary disorders in African herbal medicine. European laboratory investigations led to the development of the lipophilic (fat-soluble) extract found in modern herbal supplements.
The extracts from pygeum include beta-sitosterol, other plant estrogens, triterpenes, and certain compounds known as ferulic acids. Pygeum has been approved for treating mild to moderate BPH in Europe since the early 1970s. Studies show regular use of Pygeum helps reduce prostate inflammation, promotes better urine flow, and rids the prostate of cholesterol deposits that can occur with BPH. Pygeum’s use in treating impotence and male infertility has also been explored.
Nature's Way Standardized Pygeum
Phytosterols are plant fats similar in structure as the animal fat cholesterol, except they have an extra ethyl group on the side chain. All plants, including fruits, vegetables, grains, spices, seeds and nuts contain these sterol compounds or sterolins, with some of the most commonly found phytosterols being beta-sitosterol (BSS), stigmasterol, and campesterol.
Besides the reduction of cholesterol levels in the body, medical studies have also linked phytosterols with the reduction of symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Message Therapy (Prostatitis)
Prostatic massage for prostatitis ("milking" of the prostate by a health professional) is an old treatment that many doctors are beginning to use again because medications do not always successfully cure prostatitis.
To massage the prostate, the health professional inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum and presses several times on your prostate. This may need to be done 2 or 3 times a week. Why this works is not certain, but it is believed that the massage helps open blocked ducts in the prostate, improving circulation and antibiotic penetration into the prostate.
Prostatic massage is not done for acute bacterial prostatitis because it could cause the bacteria to spread from the prostate and cause a wider infection (sepsis).
Alternative Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Currently, more than 200 new therapies are being developed for prostate cancer (according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation). While some of the therapies in the development pipeline are merely improved versions of existing treatments, the number of unique therapies under development is increasing. These new approaches result from an explosion of knowledge that has occurred in the scientific understanding of prostate cancer. The following are brief summaries of only a few prostate cancer approaches being practiced and treatments in development. This summary is not comprehensive. To review all of the new prostate cancer treatments in the development pipeline (click here to go to the PCF’s Therapeutics Database, < http://www.prostatecancerfoundation.org/site/pp.asp?c=itIWK2 OSG &b=47420), which tracks all new prostate cancer treatments being studied.
Vaccines and Immune-based Therapy
Expectant therapy is a "watch and wait" approach while carefully observing and monitoring the prostate cancer. This may be recommended by your physician if the prostate cancer is in a very early stage, especially in the cases of older men with small tumors that are:
- expected to grow very slowly
- confined to one area of the prostate
- not causing any symptoms or other medical problems
Because prostate cancer cells often spread very slowly, many older men who have the disease may not need more extensive treatment. However, expectant therapy usually includes routine physician examinations, including digital rectal exams and PSA tests.
Chemotherapy is the use of powerful, anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Often, it is not the primary therapy for prostate cancer patients, but may be used when prostate cancer has spread outside of the prostate gland, or in combination with other therapies.
According to the American Cancer Society, chemotherapy is not effective against early prostate cancer. Although it may slow tumor growth and reduce pain, it has had limited success for the treatment of advanced disease.
Chemotherapeutic anti-cancer drugs are administered either intravenously, by mouth, or by injection. The drugs kill or cause damage to cancer cells, but may also damage normal cells. Hospitalization may be needed to monitor treatment and to control chemotherapy's side effects.
Common side effects of chemotherapy may include:
- nausea and vomiting
- hair loss
- reduced ability of blood to clot
- mouth sores
- increased likelihood of developing infections.
Side effects, and the degree to which they are experienced, differ. Most side effects disappear once treatment is stopped.
The primary strategy of hormonal therapy is to decrease the production of testosterone by the testes or block the actions that testosterone has on the prostate cells. Hormonal therapy cannot cure prostate cancer. Instead, it slows the cancer's growth and reduces the size of the tumor(s).
The following types of hormonal therapy may be used in prostate cancer:
- Orchiectomy or surgical castration is the surgical removal of the testes, which are the organs that produce male hormones
- Drugs that prevent the production or block the action of testosterone and other male hormones, called androgens. Two classes of drugs most commonly used as hormonal therapy in prostate cancer include:
- Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone analogs (LHRH) or medical castration — class of drugs which prevent testosterone production by the testes.
- Nonsteroidal antiandrogens (also called antiandrogens) — class of drugs which block the action of testosterone at the prostate.
Hormonal therapy is most commonly used to treat cancer that has spread (metastasized) outside the prostate and pelvic area.
In patients with early-stage cancer, hormonal therapy may be used in combination with radiation therapy or prostatectomy. It may also be combined with radiation therapy or prostatectomy in advanced stages of cancer when the disease has spread locally beyond the prostate.
Radiation therapy uses X-rays to kill or shrink cancer cells, and to decrease their ability to divide. Radiation is often used to treat prostate cancer that is still confined to the prostate gland, or has spread only to nearby tissue. If the disease is advanced, radiation may be used to reduce the size of the tumor and to provide relief from symptoms.
There are generally two types of radiation therapy:
- External beam radiation therapy : A procedure that is similar to having an X -ray, but for a longer period of time. The X -ray beams are directed at the cancer from outside the body.
- Internal radiation therapy: A procedure that uses small, radioactive pellets (each about the size of a grain of rice) that are implanted directly into the cancerous prostate tumor. The implanted pellets may be left in permanently or may be only temporary. The pellets emit small amounts of radiation for a period of weeks or months.
Vaccines and Immune-Based Therapy
Therapeutic cancer vaccines are treatments that attempt to “wake up” the body’s natural immune system defenses against cancerous cells. There are several therapeutic vaccines current being studied to treat prostate cancer. These vaccines are designed to activate the patient’s own antigen-presenting cells, a type of immune cell, so that they can detect prostate cancer cells and initiate an immune response against them.
Other prostate cancer vaccines use genetically modified viruses that contain prostate specific antigen ( PSA ). The patient is injected with the virus; the immune system responds to the virus and becomes sensitized to cancer cells containing PSA ; the sensitized immune system then destroys the cancerous cells.
Alternative Prostate Surgery: Laparoscopy
The word "laparoscopy" means to look inside the abdomen with a special camera or scope. Surgery performed with the aid of these cameras is known as "keyhole," "porthole" or "minimally invasive" surgery.
Traditional surgery requires a long incision (cut) down the center of the abdomen and a lengthy recovery period. Laparoscopic surgery eliminates the need for this large incision. As a result, less pain and scarring is experienced after surgery. There is also a more rapid recovery time and less risk of infection.
For laparoscopic prostate surgery, this technique requires five small (5-10 millimeters) incisions (or "portholes") -- one just below the belly button and two each on both sides of the lower abdomen. Carbon dioxide is passed into the abdominal cavity through a small tube placed into the incision below the belly button. This gas lifts the abdominal wall to give the surgeon a better view of the abdominal cavity once the laparoscope is in place. The surgeon is then guided by the laparoscope, which transmits a picture of the prostate onto a video monitor.
Laparoscopy is a relatively new technique for prostate removal, but looks promising. Men who undergo this technique have less blood loss, less need for pain medication, shorter hospital stays, quicker return to regular diet and activities, early removal of urethral catheters (tubes inserted through the penis to drain urine from the bladder) and a quicker recovery.