Simple New Treatment for Enlarged Prostate

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 07:39 PM

By Sylvia Booth Hubbard

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An 8 to 10-second blast of steam delivered directly to the prostate gland by an instrument similar to a cystoscope may relieve an enlarged prostate without surgery or drugs, say doctors using the treatment.

Approximately 60 percent of men aged 60 and older have benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate. BPH can place pressure on the bladder and urethra, causing problems such as a frequent need to urinate and difficulty urinating.
 
Traditional solutions include surgery to cut away excessive tissue and drugs to shrink tissue. Surgery cuts tissue close to the nerves that control urinary and sexual function, sometimes with devastating results, and drugs often have side effects including headaches, dizziness, and loss of libido.

But after the new procedure, which is undergoing human testing, cells affected by the steam begin to die, gradually shrinking the prostate over a period of days and weeks. The simple treatment could be performed as an outpatient procedure. There is no blood loss and few side effects, unlike traditional surgery and drugs. 

Editor’s Note: How Long Should You Use Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs? Doctor Answers
 
BPH isn't a modern condition — men have been plagued by it for thousands of years, and natural remedies from many cultures across the globe have been shown to ease the condition. They include:
 
Saw palmetto. Of all herbal remedies for prostate problems, saw palmetto, which is widely prescribed by health experts in Germany, is probably the one most widely studied and used. Some experts say more than 100 clinical studies have been conducted. According to the University of Maryland, some have shown that saw palmetto is as effective in shrinking the prostate as the drug finasteride (Proscar) without side effects, such as loss of libido.

Experts believe it works, like finasteride, by stopping the body from producing an enzyme that causes the prostate to enlarge.

"Nobody really knows exactly why it works, because studies are conflicted on the suspected mechanism," urologist Eric K. Seaman, M.D., told WebMD. "What is clear is that it helps a lot of people, and there is no documented evidence of any side effects. I know a urologist who was waking up at least three times a night because of BPH, and since taking saw palmetto, he's up only once a night. So even if the majority of patients don't get a benefit, they don't lose anything either other than a few dollars." Some experts recommend a dosage of 160 mg of saw palmetto twice a day.

Pumpkin seeds. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of Korean men found that pumpkin seed oil was both effective and safe at improving the symptoms of BPH, and an animal study, published in Urology International, found that pumpkin seed oil shrank prostate glands in male rats. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, essential fatty acids, and phytosterols, all of which support prostate health. Choose either supplements or eat 2 ounces of pumpkin seeds a day.
 
Zinc. BPH is often caused by a hormone imbalance. When the body turns ordinary testosterone into an excess of a powerful version called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the result is often a swollen prostate. Adding zinc-rich foods (such as oysters and wheat germ) to your diet or taking a zinc supplement may stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT and can prevent, and in some cases reverse, an enlarged prostate. If you decided to supplement, experts advise no more than 50 mg each day.
 
• Red Clover. A 2010 Chinese study found that the isoflavones contained in red clover reduced the proliferation of and promoted the death of human BPH stromal cells by 18.86 percent compared to 5.17 percent in the control group. Red clover supplements have been shown to improve the symptoms of BPH, especially reducing nighttime trips to the bathroom. Some experts recommend 40 to 80 milligrams daily.  
 
• Beta-sitosterol. A natural remedy made from a mixture of plant extracts, multiple randomized studies have shown that beta-sitosterol helps relieve the symptoms of BPH. One study found that after six months, the group that took 180 milligrams daily reported a 3.5-fold improvement in symptoms.
 
Editor’s Note: How Long Should You Use Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs? Doctor Answers


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