One of the top complaints I hear from most of the men over 60 who come into my office is how often they need to go to the bathroom. It turns out that, more often than not, they are beating a path to the nearest restroom because of an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
It’s a good thing they come and see me. While BPH doesn’t lead to prostate cancer, ignoring the problem could trigger other problems.
As your prostate grows, it acts like a clamp on your urethra. As the urethra is progressively “strangled” by a growing prostate, urine stays in the bladder and increases the risk of urinary tract infection. Left unchecked, BPH can also lead to kidney or bladder damage, bladder stones and incontinence.
While many conventional doctors opt for drugs and surgery to treat the condition, I prefer a more natural approach for mild to moderate BPH. My first line of defense includes herbs that reduce inflammation and help normalize the hormones that contribute to prostate enlargement.
- Beta-sitosterol (60 to 130 mg daily) is the magic compound in saw palmetto that’s responsible for easing BPH symptoms. While it won’t shrink your prostate, it will reduce your trips to the bathroom. Studies show that beta-sitosterol improves urine flow and bladder emptying while reducing night-time urination.(1)
- Rye grass pollen (60 to 120 mg twice daily) affects testosterone levels, relaxes the urethra and improves how well the bladder can force urine out. All of these actions reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, such as dribbling after urinating or having to get up several times at night to go to the bathroom.
- African pygeum (50 mg twice daily) reduces inflammation in the prostate. In an evaluation of 18 randomized trials involving 1,562 men with BPH, pygeum significantly improved urinary symptoms and flow measures.(2)
- Pumpkin seed oil (160 mg. three times per day with meals) can slash BPH symptoms by 47% and improved quality of life by 46%. Combined with other prostate-friendly herbs, pumpkin seed oil successfully reduces daytime urination frequency in 68% of BPH patients, and night-time urination frequency in 82% of men.(3)
I’m also a strong proponent of Kegel exercises—the same exercises women use to reduce urinary incontinence. That’s because both men and women have a PC muscle, which runs from the public bone in the front to the tailbone in the back. As the muscle is exercised, more blood is able to flow to the reproductive organs and urinary tract, which strengthens bladder function and control.
You can isolate your PC muscle by stopping your urine mid-stream. For best results, try this: clench your PC muscle until the flow of urine is slowed or stopped. Hold each contraction for 10 seconds, then release. For best results, perform five to 15 contractions, three to five times each day.
1. Wilt T. Beta-sitosterols for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database System Review. 2000;(2):CD001043.
2. Ishani A. Pygeum africanum for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis. American Journal of Medicine. 2000;109:654-664.
3. Schiebel-Schlosser G. Phytotherapy of BPH with pumpkin seeds–a multicenter clinical trial. Zeits Phytotherapy. 1998;19:71-76.
Dr. David J. Blyweiss began his medical career as a clinical pharmacist in South Florida prior to earning his medical degree from St. George's University School of Medicine in 1982.
His dual background allowed him to appreciate the relevance of conventional pharmaceutical/surgical based treatments in acute medical conditions, and recognize where these approaches fell short in treating the majority of patients who suffered from the chronic degenerative diseases of "western civilization origin."
Over the last twenty years, with the nutritional medical knowledge base expanding in the fields of nutrigenomics, protemics, and other related "orthomolecular" disciplines directed towards patients' biochemical individuality, Dr. Blyweiss became an early adherent and experienced practitioner of what would become known as "functional medicine." This knowledge allows him to effectively manage and alleviate the symptoms related to the most "difficult-to-treat" conditions by addressing the underlying causes, allowing the body to heal itself.
Dr. Blyweiss was one of the initial researchers doing the early work on chlorhexidine (Phisohex) while earning his first post graduate degree at Temple University School of Pharmacy. During medical school he worked with the WHO (World Health Organization) in vaccinating children in the islands of the Carribbean. He has traveled much of the world, most recently to Belize, Central America, Gabon, Africa, and Zagreb, Croatia working closely with teams of specialists to identify new plant life and natural products for possible human benefit as well as researchers and their stem cell transplantation teams. He has consulted for and created state-of-the-art nutritional supplements for multiple nutritional companies since 1999. He is currently in private practice in South Florida where he resides with his family.