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Healing Herbs to Soothe and Protect Your Prostate

Posted May 06 2010 8:04pm

BugsIn this Issue:

By Dr. Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Does waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom sound familiar? If you’re a man and you’re over 40, chances are you’ve experienced the all too common symptoms of an enlarged prostate also called BPH. Frequent urination, especially in the middle of the night, is the signature of this annoying but essentially harmless condition. So is a hesitant, interrupted or weak stream of urine, a pressing urgency to urinate, leaking, or dribbling.

A healthy prostate gland is about the size of a walnut, and sits right under the bladder. Its main purpose is to store and secrete fluid that makes up about one third of the volume of seminal fluid. For various reasons, the prostate will enlarge as we age, causing the urinary tube known as the urethra to constrict making urination difficult.

Annoying as it is, BPH is not usually dangerous. However, you need to be aware of two things. One, urine retention and strain on the bladder can lead to more serious problems including bladder and kidney damage, bladder stones, urinary tract infection, and the inability to control urination. If you catch BPH early, there’s a much lower risk of such complications. And fortunately, there are some easy and natural ways to bring relief (more on that in a moment).

Saw palmetto is the “go-to” herb when it comes to taming the urge to pee every few hours. A three-year study in Germany found that 160 mg of saw palmetto extract taken twice daily reduced night-time urination in 73% of people and significantly improved urinary flow rates.1Another multi-center study showed that a similar amount of saw palmetto treated BPH as well as the drug Proscar, but without the side effects.2

Though we don’t know the exact cause of BPH, it is widely believed that it’s fueled by hormones, specifically testosterone, and even more specifically the metabolism of testosteronein other words, what happens in the body to the testosterone that we do make. Some testosterone is converted in the body to a nasty little metabolite called DHT. DHT is thought to be partly responsible for male baldness.

In women, a high level of testosterone conversion to DHT is thought to be connected to a host of “male” symptoms like hair loss (on the head) and hair growth (on the face). This conversionin both men and womenis fueled by a potent enzyme. Saw palmetto helps to inhibit this enzyme and thus reduce the amount of harmful DHT.

As a further benefit to prostate health, saw palmetto contains plant sterols that reduce damaging inflammation.

Although saw palmetto is the superstar nutrient for “curing” night-time bathroom breaks, 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 that help the prostate in different and important ways.

Saw Palmetto: 320 mg (160 mg 2x a day)

Can be combined with (approximate values):

Pygeum: 100-200 mg (50-100 mg 2x a day)

Stinging Nettles: 300 mg (150 mg 2x a day)

Beta-sitosterol: 100-300 mg (150 mg 2x a day)

Zinc: 50 mg to start, reduce to 30 mg after a few months

Note: All dosages are daily dosages and in pill or capsule form unless otherwise noted.

Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol found in almost all plants, but 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 symptoms of BPH including urine flow.3

Nettles (stinging 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 study4 found that nettles had beneficial effects on the prostate, 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 the seeds work by themselves. So it would be better to 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. Zinc is absolutely essential to prostate health. Prostatic secretions contain a high concentration of zinc. Zinc also tones down the activity of the enzyme that fuels the conversion of testosterone to harmful DTH. (Remember that stress depletes zinc like crazy, so many individuals may be low to begin with.)

Research has shown that the best absorbed forms of zinc are zinc picolinate and zinc citrate.

And let’s not forget sex. Sexual activity is one proven way to keep the prostate healthy. Men who ejaculate frequently are less likely to have inflammation of the prostate known as prostatitis. An Australian study concluded that the more men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer later in life.5 One widely held theory is that regular ejaculation “flushes out” cancer-causing agents and fluid which might otherwise accumulate.

Just something to keep in mind!

Note: It’s always good to rule out cancer as a cause of urinary symptoms. A blood test called a PSA can help. Though the test is hardly conclusive for cancer, PSA is frequently elevated in the blood of men with prostate cancer.


[Ed. note: Dr. Bowden is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He’s a board certified nutrition specialist with a Master’s degree in psychology. Dr. Bowden is also a life coach, motivational speaker, former personal trainer and author of the award-winning book, Living the Low Carb Life. His new book, The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth was published January 1, 2008. For more information, click here. ]

HeartWeight Loss:

By Craig Ballantyne

Believe it or not, but I’ve worked with dozens of people who lost fat and built muscle over the holiday season. That’s the exact opposite of what the typical American does between Halloween and Christmas. For most people, its far too easy during the holiday months to skip workouts and eat poorly. So here are three tips that have helped others stick to their fat loss program and will work for you too…before or after the holidays.

#1. Seek Social Support

You need a workout partner, a nutrition buddy at work, or helping hands from your family to succeed. If you’re trying to go it all alone, then everyone around you will drag you down, whether intentionally or not.

That’s right, sometimes people purposely sabotage the success of others. So hang out with people who have similar goals, either at your gym or online via a fitness-related message forum.

#2. Measure Your Progress

Use photos, tape measurements of your arms, legs, hips, waist, and thighs, as well as estimates of your body fat. If you aren’t measuring, you don’t know where you need to improve.

#3. Record Your Progress

Write down the progress made in your workouts. Record the sets, reps, and weight for each exercise. Record your nutritional intake in a spreadsheet or online. And finally, keep track of what works and what doesn’t, so you know what to avoid.

[Ed. Note: Craig Ballantyne is an expert consultant for Men's Health magazine. If you're looking to burn fat, build muscle and quickly step into the body you have always wanted with just three workouts each week, check out Craig's fat-loss system. For more information, click here. ]

Girl listening to musicHealthy Healing:

By Joseph McCaffrey, MD

Part 1 of a 2-Part Article on Nutrients that Relieve Joint Pain

Normal wear and tear on our joints gets the better of most of us over time. Joint pain happens.

There’s a lot that can be done to prevent it, but once it happens, most people reach for one of the anti-inflammatory drugs filling the shelves at pharmacies.

Unfortunately, using these drugs comes with a price. Acetaminophen is toxic to your liver. Ibuprofen and drugs like it have a range of serious side effects (one estimate places the number of hospitalizations resulting from ibuprofen at over 100,000 per year and the number of deaths at 16,500!1 Clearly, it’s worth finding alternative treatments.

Fortunately, there are numerous natural approaches with a much better safety record than the drugs mentioned above.

One is a common, tasty herb with definite anti-inflammatory effects. It’s extremely safe, and trials have proved its effectiveness in the treatment of arthritis.2-3 You would undoubtedly see a ton of ads for it if it were a drug.

This herb is ginger.

Many people who turn to ginger for cooking or to help with nausea are unaware that it also has several anti-inflammatory properties that work to block pain. First, ginger inhibits the natural enzymes that speed up inflammatory processes. By stopping these enzymes, ginger is effectively blocking the pathway for pain.

Second, ginger contains enzymes that neutralize the biochemical substances that prevent healing. With these damaging substances kept at low levels, diseased and damaged joints can recover. Finally, ginger lessens pain by inhibiting the genetic messengers that lead to inflammation.

More good news about ginger is that it is a versatile herb available as a cooking spice, natural tea, or dietary supplement. In health studies in which it was shown to relieve joint pain, a dose of 250 mg to 1 gram in capsulated form was taken 2 to 4 times per day.

Ginger is exceptionally safe for most people, but you should not exceed a dose of 5 grams per day.


[Ed. Note: Dr. Joseph McCaffrey is a board-certified surgeon with extensive experience in alternative medicine, including certification as a HeartMath Trainer. His areas of expertise include mind-body interaction and cognitive restructuring. Dr. McCaffrey strives to help people attain their optimum level of vitality through attention to all aspects of wellness. For more information click here. ]

Girl listening to musicRelationships:

By Dr. Matthew Anderson

How would you rate yourself in your ability to relate to women?

Most men are grossly lacking in their get-along-with-women skills. The women I have polled over the last 40 years say that the majority of men have little to no idea about what works in a relationship with a woman. This is both sad and strange given how important women are to most of us.

So the question is: What can you do about it?

The following guidelines, thoughtfully applied will produce great results. Ignore them and you can expect stuff to hit the fan. It’s your choice.

Most men ignore these simple but powerful guidelines. Apply them and you will become the best man your woman knows.

[Ed. note: Dr. Matthew Anderson is an author (The Prayer Diet), counselor (35 years) and national columnist/expert on weight loss, motivation, self-management and relationships. To find tough-minded, outside-the-box guidance for taking charge of your life and/or your weight including Eating click here. ]

BeansAlternative Eating:

By Dr. Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. And it’s probably also the healthiest. For years we’ve heard about the cancer-fighting benefits of green tea, and the latest research shows that black tea, oolong tea and white tea are also great for you. Now there’s a new kid on the tea block, and it’s getting a lot of attention. It’s called yerba mate, and it’s being touted as the next great tea, with claims ranging from high antioxidant content to cancer-fighting ability. What’s the truth?

All our usual teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, whereas yerba mate comes from an entirely different plant Ilex paraguariensis. The mate tea comes mainly from four countries in South America: Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay, and in fact is the national drink in the latter two. And, yes, it does deserve it’s growing reputation as a superfood.

A recent study by Elivira de Mejia, Ph.D. tested various forms of the tea using two sophisticated tests for antioxidants called the ORAC test and the DPBH test. In both, dangerous free radicals (rogue oxygen molecules which damage your cells and DNA) are exposed to different amounts of a compound (in this case yerba mate tea) and researchers measure the ability of the compound to “squelch” or deactivate the free radicals. How well they do is a measure of their antioxidant capacity. “What we’ve seen in our research is that some types of yerba mate tea are even higher in antioxidants than green tea”, Dr. de Mejia told me.

Polyphenols, healthy compounds found in plants, are responsible for the antioxidant activity of yerba mate.

Dr. de Mejia explained that antioxidant power is only part of the story. “Matta tea in general contains high amounts of chlorogenic acid, a very powerful plant compound with antioxidant and possibly other healthy properties. And it also contains substantial amounts of caffeine, sometimes higher than coffee.” How can this be a good thing? “Actually caffeine is an interesting molecule”, she explained. “Caffeine has been shown in some studies to have a preventative effect on diabetes and Parkinson’s. And sometimes there are synergistic effects between the caffeine and the antioxidants.”

Catechins are another class of plant compounds that have been found to have significant health benefits including possibly anti-cancer activiy; they’re present in green tea but essentially absent in yerba mate. Nonetheless, there is some hope that yerba mate may have anti-cancer activity anyway. “We have done studies using mouse cancer cells in which we exposed them to different concentrations of matta and the cells died,” Dr. Mejia explained. She pointed out that the possible anti-cancer activity of yerba mate tea may or may not be related to its antioxidant capacity. “It may be due to some other mechanism not yet identified.”

More research is needed, but so far if you don’t mind the caffeine yerba mate sounds like a winner.

Note: to duplicate the effects of Dr. Mejia’s study using teabags, you would have to use 4-5 teabags. It’s a strong taste, but many people love it.

(Yerba Mate tea can be enjoyed both hot and cold. Several commercial brands are also available with a delicate fruit flavor.)

[Ed. note: Dr. Bowden is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He’s a board certified nutrition specialist with a Master’s degree in psychology. Dr. Bowden is also a life coach, motivational speaker, former personal trainer and author of the award-winning book, Living the Low Carb Life. His new book, The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth was published January 1, 2008. For more information, click here now. ]

SalmonRecipes & Nutrition:

By Kelley Herring

These savory veggie appetizers are a nutritional powerhouse and a real crowd pleaser. Try using herbed or pepper-encrusted goat cheese for even more flavorful results.

Serves: 12

Time to Table: 25 minutes

Healing Nutrient Spotlight

Good source of calcium, selenium, fiber, protein


24 large organic white button mushrooms
1/4 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups canned, quartered organic artichoke hearts
2 cloves minced organic garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated organic nutmeg
8 ounces organic goat cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated organic Asiago cheese


Preheat oven to 400°F. Place mushrooms in a large plastic food storage bag. Drizzle in just enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat – about 1/4 cup. Shake the mushrooms to coat and scatter out onto a cookie sheet. Roast 10 minutes, round-side up. Season with salt and pepper and flip over. Toss drained, quartered artichokes with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, nutmeg, goat cheese, and parsley. Generously fill the mushroom caps. Top the artichokes with shredded Asiago cheese and return to oven. Cook mushrooms 5 minutes more to melt cheese and set filling. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information

160 calories, 13 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 7.5 g monounsaturated fats, 1 g polyunsaturated fats, 17 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 5 g protein

[Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is the Founder & CEO of Healing Gourmet, a multimedia company that educates on how foods promote health and protect against disease. She is also the creator of Healing Gourmet's Personalized Nutrition Software and Editor-in-Chief of the Healing Gourmet book series published by McGraw-Hill, including Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility. For more information, click here. ]

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