PISSING WITH HERBS
Take aim at Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Prostatitis
I. Using Herbs for a Healthy Prostate
In the words of herbalist James Green, "Each man experiencing a prostate problem must make his own decision as to how he wants to treat and care for the condition. Natural healing takes longer, but it is well worth the time and self-commitment." The Iowa Health System adds, "Studies show that of the men who receive no treatment for BPH, as many as 31-55% actually show an improvement, and only 1-5% ever develop complications."
How you manage benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis is in your hands, perhaps even growing in your yard. Herbs have been tested on humans for centuries, even millennia. Learn about the herbs you can use and... take aim. Start pissing with herbs!
A. Herbs for the Prostate
1. Prostate-Specific Herbs
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) (prostate enlargement; urinary symptoms)
(Stinging) Nettle Root (Urtica dioica) (prostate enlargement; urinary symptoms; inflammation)
Small-Flower Willow Herb/Fireweed (Epilobium parviflorum, Epilobium spp.) (promotes easy urination)
Pygeum Bark/African Plum (Prunus africanum) (urinary symptoms; prostatic irritation)
(Swedish Flower) Pollen Extract (prostate health; urinary symptoms)
There is considerable research documenting the efficacy of these herbs and plant products.
2. Herbs for Symptoms of the Prostate, Urethra, Bladder and Kidneys
Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium) (antimicrobial; genito-urinary infection, prostatitis)
(Blessed) Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) (detoxifies liver, cleanses kidneys; prostate infections; not effective as tea, use capsules/tablets or tincture)
Hydrangea Root (Hydrangea arborescens, Hydrangea canadensis) (dissolves calcifications in prostate ducts; kidney and bladder stones; astringent)
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) (immune enhancer; antimicrobial; combine with prostate- and symptom-specific herbs)
Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis) (astringent; mucous membrane tonic; mitigates hemorrhaging; combine with prostate- and symptom-specific herbs)
Pipsissewa (Chimaphilia umbellata) (prostate irritation, urethritis, bladder inflammation; steep, don't boil)
Buchu (Agathosma betulina) (urinary tract infection, BPH; relieves burning urination)
Angelica (Angelica archangelica) (diuretic; urinary antiseptic; avoid, if diabetic)
Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) (likely similar properties; prostatitis, orchitis)
Bearberry/Uva Ursi/Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) (antiseptic for stagnant urine)
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) (astringent; urinary tract inflammation, BPH)
Couch Grass (Agropyron repens) (urethritis, prostatitis; diuretic; antimicrobial)
Corn Silk (Zea mays) (genito-urinary inflammation, prostatitis, urethritis; use fresh; steep, don't boil)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) (kidney and bladder inflammation; powerful diuretic)
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) (astringent; mitigates internal hemorrhaging; tissue healing)
Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis) (soothes urinary irritation; kidney stones and gravel)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) (relaxant; sedative; anti-spasmodic)
(Blue) Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia) (relieves tension and spasms; steep, don't boil)
(German) Chamomile (Matricaria recutita or M. chamomilla) (relaxes muscles and bladder; genito-urinary cramps and pain)
Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus) (relaxes muscle tension; genito-urinary cramps and spasm)
These herbs have a history of traditional and modern use. Use as your symptoms dictate.
3. Herbs to Promote Testosterone Production
(Korean Red) Ginseng (Panax ginseng) (adaptogen; increases potency; may cause insomnia, if used in the evening)
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) (likely similar properties; slightly different ratios of ginsenosides)
Tongkat Ali/Long Jack (Eurycoma longifolia) (increases testosterone production)
Puncture Vine/Tribulus/Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris) (increases the production of luteinizing hormone, causing the testes to produce testosterone; treats prostate conditions)
Horny Goat Weed/Yin Yang Huo (Epimedium brevicornum) (influences the nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate level to increase blood flow to the genitals)
Pine Pollen/Song Hua Fen (Pinus sylvestris, Pinus nigra, Pinus spp.) (strongly androgenic; rich in testosterone; increases the level of free serum testosterone; restores the testosterone/estrogen balance)
Sarsaparilla/Smilax (Smilax officinalis, Smilax spp.) (assists testosterone production; nourishes the male reproductive system)
Muira Puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides) (enhances sexual function; may cause anxiety)
Testosterone production declines as men age, leading to a loss of muscle mass, an increase in weight, stress, insomnia and other problems. A low testosterone to high estrogen balance is increasingly believed to be responsible for prostate enlargement. Testosterone injections, patches and gels can exacerbate urinary and prostate symptoms and lead to breast tissue development and other health concerns. These herbs stimulate testosterone production or otherwise assist the male reproductive system. It is generally recommended to use them either singly or in combinations for a few weeks and to take a short break to reassess your prostate symptoms before beginning a new cycle.
B. Methods of Use and General Guidelines
Many herbs, such as Small-Flower Willow Herb and most of the herbs from the second group, are effective when used as teas or decoctions. Measure more or less equal quantities of each herb (only a half measure of Horsetail, Comfrey and Bearberry) into a jar and mix well (use Pollen Extract and testosterone-boosting herbs separately). To make a decoction, put 1 heaping teaspoon to 1 heaping tablespoon herb into approximately 1 cup water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes, then add herbs not to be boiled, let steep a few minutes and strain. To make a tea, use the same amount of herb, but steep only. Take 2-3 times a day. When your supply runs out, reassess your condition and formulate a new blend.
Like teas, tinctures provide all of the ingredients provided by the plant, but they contain alcohol and are costly. Generally, use 1 teaspoon 2-3 times a day.
The most potent and consistent dosages are provided by capsules/tablets containing standardized extracts of the currently known active ingredients. Capsules containing powdered herbs may be poured out and prepared as tea. Generally, use 1-2 capsules/tablets of standardized extracts or 3-4 capsules/tablets of powdered herbs 2-3 times a day.
Adjust the dosages (increase every 2-3 days until the symptoms stop, or cut back every 2-3 days until the symptoms recur) within reason. If symptoms are worst at night or upon arising, try an extra dose of Saw Palmetto before bed.
II. Lifestyle for a Healthy Prostate
A. Care of the Prostate
There are a number of measures you can take to minimize your symptoms.
Ejaculate frequently (Merck: especially for prostatitis).
Never hold urine. Urinate at the first sign of need, or before the sign of need. Develop the habit of drinking water after you urinate, but not in the latter hours of the evening, to minimize the need to get up throughout the night.
Never force urination. If it becomes difficult to urinate (dysuria – very serious) or if blood appears in the urine (hematuria – can be serious), seek medical attention immediately!
Avoid the use of over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines, as they dry out and tighten the prostate, exacerbating difficult urination.
Avoid prolonged sitting.
Physical activity and sport, daily. Brisk walks are excellent. Weight training and interval training increase testosterone production and muscle mass and reduce body fat and estrogen production.
Horseback, motorcycle and bicycle riding can exacerbate the discomfort: avoid until the condition is under control. Bicycling is particularly hard on a man's plumbing. To lessen the risk of impotence and prostate problems, use an anatomical (split) saddle. Also, do Kegel exercises while biking/riding and take hourly breaks to stretch and take the pressure off the gland.
Relaxation and stress management, daily. It is common to hold tension in the prostate. Relax the prostate!
Kegel exercises, 5 sets of 10-30 repetitions, daily (help reduce the 'golf ball in the hole'):
Slow clenching, hold for a count of 3, relax;
Rapid clenching, as rapidly as possible;
Pushing, as if gently forcing out urine and excrement.
Yoga (consult a yoga manual or web site for directions; to strengthen the urinary sphincter, do Kegel exercises while holding the poses):
Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose or Cobbler Pose)
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Supta Konasana (Widespread Plow Pose)
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist Pose)
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Virasana (Hero Pose)
Bhekasana (Frog Pose)
Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose) I and II
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Hug your Knees to your Chest while Lying on your Back
Hydrotherapy entails alternately applying a spray of hot and cold to the prostate area with a hand-held shower to increase the flow of blood and lymph. The temperature contrast is important, not that it be ice cold or scalding hot water.
Apply hot and cold packs to the perineum (4 minutes heat, then 1 minute cold), 2 or more times a day, as required.
Warm sitz baths, as needed.
Prostate massage or prostate draining (Merck) involves digitally entering the rectum (shudder!) and stroking the prostate in order to void the acini of infected fluids.
Essential oils are rapidly absorbed through the skin. Rub onto the perineum 3-4 times daily:
A mixture of 5 drops Lavender, 3 drops Pine, 3 drops German Chamomile, 3 drops Eucalyptus and 6 teaspoons Calendula or other carrier oil (eg., Olive, Almond, Wheat Germ).
Blend equal amounts of powdered Saw Palmetto and Echinacea, Cocoa Butter, and ¼ teaspoon essential oil of Lavender; form into cylinders; use as required.
Constipation creates pressure on the prostate. Stewed dried fruits, fibre, yogurt and water promote regular elimination.
Keep the lower body warm. Avoid cold and dampness.
B. Eating for a Healthy Prostate
Diet can have a profound impact on symptoms. While vegetarians live longer and are at a lower risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other diseases, strict vegetarian men may have lower testosterone levels. Rejoice: near-vegetarians enjoy roughly the same level of health benefits!
Hydrate the body with 1 ½ to 2 litres tap (use a Brita filter, if desired) or spring water daily.
Enjoy flavourful and nutritious herb teas, like hibiscus, rosehip, raspberry leaf, mint, linden blossom and others. Drink plain or sweeten with fruit juice, honey, maple syrup or molasses.
Drink tea (Camellia sinensis, the common tea plant), especially green tea. Drink coffee in moderation (eg., 3 cups of coffee per day), as it can irritate the prostate. Caffeine increases the urgency to urinate, so limit use to daytime and early evening (if you need it first thing in the morning, the quality of your sleep is inadequate). Sweeten naturally and/or add milk, if desired.
Drink real fruit and vegetable juices as nutritive and healing tonics. They mix well with herb and traditional teas. Pomegranate juice is said to be beneficial to the prostate and cranberry juice may aid in expelling urinary infections.
Consume cow's milk, goat milk, etc. Choose dairy products produced without antibiotic and hormone contaminants (milk in Canada and the EU is free of added hormones and antibiotics). Prefer pasteurized, standard (unhomogenized) milk and milk products.
Drink refreshing buttermilk. Or, put a few tablespoons of yogurt in a cup, dilute with water, and optionally sweeten with juice, honey, etc. (lhassi) or salt lightly (ayran). Kefir is a similar dairy beverage fermented with yeast.
Try soy, nut and rice milks for their protein and nutritional value. These vegetable 'milks' may be used as alternatives to animal milk in coffee, tea, beverages, etc.
1 teaspoon cocoa in a cup of hot water makes a healthful beverage (rich in antioxidants; contains some caffeine). It may be enjoyed black, sweetened with honey and a pinch of cinnamon, or with milk. For a caffeine boost, put the cocoa and other ingredients into a cup of hot black tea instead of into water. Don't use prepared chocolate drinks, drink powders and syrups (primarily sugar and chemicals).
Cereal beverages, such as Postum, Caro, Krakus/Inka and Caf-Lib, can be served as pleasant alternatives to coffee.
Unpasteurized beer is rich in yeast cultures and protein. Wine also contains yeast and flavonoids. Benefits are lost when consuming more than 1 alcoholic beverage per day. Alcohol is a prostate irritant.
Satisfy (don't over-eat) a hearty appetite with real, mostly plant-based food.
Avoid ingesting non-foods: pop, artificial sweeteners, margarine, hydrogenated oils/trans-fats, modified and processed foods, etc. Switch back to real sweeteners, real oils and real food.
Get up to 30% of calories from the healthy fats your body needs to produce hormones. Reduce saturated animal fats.
Eat a wide variety of vegetables (particularly greens, for calcium) and fresh and dried fruits daily. Fruits and/or vegetables should be a part of every meal. Snack on fruits and raw vegetables. If you are hungry before bed or in the night, eat a banana or other fruit.
Get plenty of protein, mostly from beans, peas, lentils, nuts and nut butters, and soy foods (beneficial to the prostate), such as soy beans, tofu, tempeh, miso, etc. Soy products like veggie burgers, veggie dogs, simulated meat substitutes, etc. are highly processed, but might do in a pinch.
Enjoy cheese and eggs regularly.
Aim for no more than 3 servings (eg., 1 fish, 1 poultry, 1 red meat) of flesh products a week. Choose animal products free of antibiotic and hormone contaminants (antibiotics promote development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens that can be passed on to humans; hormones are known to stimulate tumour and cancer growth; meat in the EU is free of added hormones and antibiotics).
Consume active bacterial foods (for their protein and benefit to the digestive system), such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and tempeh.
Consume whole grains daily. Use whole wheat flour, brown/cargo rice, honey, molasses and maple syrup instead of white flour, white rice and white sugar. To add food value to white rice, either precook whole grains (wheat, rye, oat, wild rice, etc.) for 10-15 minutes before adding the white rice, or mix white rice with pearl/pot barley, buckwheat or millet, then cook normally.
Reduce 'junk carbs'. Salty snacks cause dryness and urinary retention, followed by a pressing need to urinate huge volumes many hours later (usually in the middle of the night).
Use tomato paste, tomato sauce and tomatoes (paste has the highest lycopene content). Make a quick tomato sauce by spooning a can of tomato paste into a jar. Add an equal amount of water, a teaspoon of oil and some herbs and spices, then screw the lid on tightly and shake vigorously.
Enjoy ½ cup of well chewed or freshly ground flax, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds daily (for their zinc and oil content). Flax seeds also provide Omega-3 Fatty Acids and fibre and keep the arteries free of plaque. Seeds may be added to porridge and salads, when cooking rice, and to oil when sautéing.
Garlic lowers blood pressure. Eat 3 raw cloves daily.
Herbs and spices complement every meal. They carry away wastes and maintain prostate health. Turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory with anti-cancer activity. Fresh ginger and hot peppers are shown to inhibit cancer cell growth.
To improve cardiovascular health, switch to Potassium chloride instead of table salt, or mix half and half.
Take heed of the containers food is sold, stored, prepared and served in. Plastics leech into foods and beverages, act as estrogens in the body and are linked to many diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and prostate and other cancers. Avoid using cans lined with plastic; never heat in plastic (not even so-called microwavable dishes or styrofoam); don't leave beverages in plastic bottles in the hot sun; avoid having food come into contact with cling wrap (the softeners in these plastics are particularly dangerous); and only reuse #2, #4 and #5 plastics that are not old, discoloured, brittle or worn.
2. Daily Supplements
A healthy diet is the preferred source of essential nutrients. Supplements should be in a natural form and not exceed recommended daily allowances.
Multi-vitamin (with 200-600 IU Vitamin D3—less for younger men, more for older men—and 25-50 mg Zinc—important for sexual function)
Calcium (bone health)
Evening Primrose Oil (essential fatty acids)
Flax Seeds (ground) or Flax Seed Oil with Lignans
Beta-sitosterol, Isoflavones, Resveratrol (reduce estrogen activity and cholesterol)
Whey Protein (older men need more highly digestible protein)
The Male Herbal, James Green
The Natural Testosterone Plan, Stephen Harrod Buhner
Beer Belly Blues, Brad J. King
The Complete Prostate Book: What Every Man Needs to Know, J. Stephen Jones, MD
British Journal of Urology, 2000, vol. 86, no. 4
Deutsche Kommission E Monographien/German Commission E Monographs
The Merck Manual of Medical Information: Home Edition
Becoming Vegetarian: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Vegetarian Diet, Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis