Health Alert 9
Last time I mentioned that there were 400,000 surgeries on the prostate every year. Today I want to look at the most common problem with the prostate – and one thing you can do to prevent being one of those surgical statistics.
Prostatic problems are an epidemic in this country. Swollen prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common diagnosis made in American men over the age of 55. Eighty percent will get it at some point in their life. And the longer you live, the greater your chances.
The first sign of trouble is usually waking up at night to urinate. It’s a minor nuisance at first. Most of my patients tell me they don’t mind once or twice. But when it progresses to three, four or more, it’s a real problem. Then it advances to during the day as well. They can’t take a drive for more than an hour without finding a bathroom.
* The Slash and Burn Method *
The conventional approaches fall into three categories. You can poison your prostate with toxic drugs. You can burn your prostate with radiation. Or you can go under the knife. These approaches have proven dangerous and ineffective. The incidence of impotence is a shocking 50% – 60% for both radiation and prostatectomy for example.
Surely, there must be a better way. Perhaps we can learn from our friends across the Atlantic. In Europe, they do it differently. In Germany, 80% of BPH cases are handled without surgery or drugs. If you are a man living in Italy, your chance of having surgery on your prostate for BPH is less than 10% of that of a man living in the US. How do they do it? The answer’s not difficult – when you understand the cause.
Did you know that your prostate is the equivalent of the uterus in women? They both develop from the same tissue in the embryo. So like the uterus, the prostate is hormonally controlled. That’s important. Because when your prostate enlarges, you must reverse the hormonal signal inducing its growth.
* Treating the Real Cause *
The hormone controlling the growth of the prostate is dihydrotestosterone or DHT. DHT binds to growth receptors on prostatic cells signally them to grow and divide. Recent research has repeatedly confirmed this. But here’s the amazing part. All around the world, different cultures have developed traditional remedies for swollen prostate. Some of these traditional remedies are hundreds of years old. And guess what? We are only just now learning that they inhibit the action of DHT.
The herb saw palmetto has been shown to inhibit 90% of the activity of 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that makes DHT in your prostate. In fact, a study published in the medical journal Prostate found saw palmetto to be as effective as the drug finasteride (Proscar) but without the side effects.
More confirmation came in 1998 when the usually anti-herb publication the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) made a rare concession. After reviewing multiple studies on saw palmetto, they concluded, “extracts from the saw palmetto plant, S. repens, improve urinary tract symptoms and flow measures in men with BPH.”
Thanks JAMA! I think I’ll keep that saw palmetto growing in my back yard. Almost all the world’s saw palmetto comes from South Florida even though most of it is used in Europe. And that’s the European secret to their success with avoiding surgery and drugs for prostatic problems. They use herbs like saw palmetto first.
Other natural plant extracts that have been shown to inhibit DHT are pumpkin seed, Pygeum bark and stinging nettle. In my practice, I have been using them in combination with great results.
Al Sears, MD