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Home > Articles > The Herbal Treatment of Enlarged Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH) and Prostatitis

The Herbal Treatment of Enlarged Prostate (BPH or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate is a benign (non-cancerous) disease of the prostate gland, which, if left untreated, can lead to medical complications including kidney and bladder damage. Many men, and those with prostatitis, are turning to the Herbal Medicine Clinic for effective relief of the problem. If BPH is diagnosed and treated early, there is a lower risk of developing these complications.

 

Enlargement of the prostate typically affects men as they age. As men grow older, the size of their prostate can increase and start pressing on the urethra. This can lead to difficulty in passing urine and pain associated with sexual function. BPH is not a life-threatening disease but it is likely to negatively impact a man's quality of life. It is important for men aged 50 and over to see their GP annually for a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test and prostate examination to help monitor prostate health.

What is the Prostate?

It is a gland approximately the size of a walnut, which encircles the urethra at the exit from the bladder. Its function is to produce a fluid in which ejaculated sperm are suspended.

What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a benign (non-cancerous) disease of the prostate gland, which, if left untreated, can lead to medical complications including kidney and bladder damage. If BPH is diagnosed and treated early, there is a lower risk of developing these complications. Enlargement of the prostate typically affects men as they age.

Who gets BPH?

Studies have shown that the prevalence of BPH increases from 24% of men in their 50s to over 50% of men in their 70s.

What are the symptoms and signs?

As men grow older, the size of their prostate can increase and start pressing on the urinary canal (urethra). This can lead to difficulty in passing urine and sexual function. BPH is not a life-threatening disease but it is likely to negatively impact a man's quality of life.The symptoms can include a decreased force of urine stream, which can be hesitant and intermittent. The man may need to strain to empty his bladder. Often he is unable to completely empty his bladder. There is often a feeling of urgency to urinate, frequency, night time trips to the bathroom, pain on urination and urge incontinence. There can also be pain associated with sexual function.

What is the Orthodox Medical Treatment of BPH?

The mainstays of treatment for BPH are drugs and surgery. However, as any treatment can have unwanted effects, some men with mild symptoms opt to "wait and watch", where no treatment is undertaken. Instead the situation is monitored closely with routine check-ups. If symptoms deteriorate, it is then possible to opt for treatment.

Drug treatment

There are two main classes of drugs that are prescribed for BPH:

Alpha-blockers

These drugs relax the muscles at the neck of the bladder and in the prostate, thereby reducing the pressure on the urethra and so helping increase the flow of urine. They do not cure BPH but help to alleviate some of the symptoms. Around 60% of men find symptoms improve significantly within the first 2-3 weeks of treatment.

What are the side effects?

The most common side-effects of alpha-blockers are tiredness, dizziness and headaches.

5-alpha-reductase inhibitors

These drugs work by inhibiting the production of a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which may contribute to prostate enlargement. The role of DHT is not yet fully understood. Finasteride is the most commonly used drug of this type for BPH. These drugs can slow down the progression of BPH by suppressing the production of DHT. They decrease prostate volume and in doing so they improve symptoms and urinary flow, and decrease the risks of urinary retention and delay the need for BPH related surgery.

What are the side effects?

The most common side-effects of finasteride include a reduced sex drive, difficulty in maintaining an erection and ejaculatory dysfunction. Several months of treatment may be needed before the benefit is noticed.

Surgery

There are three main surgical options for BPH:

  • TURP: Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is the most common operation for BPH. The procedure is usually done under a general anaesthetic. A long thin instrument called a resectoscope is passed into the urethra. With a light source and lens on the end it acts as a telescope, allowing the surgeon to view the prostate either directly or on a video monitor. A precisely controlled electric current, applied by a loop of wire at the end of the resectoscope, is used to shave off sections of the enlarged prostate. TURP is an effective procedure with over 90% of men reporting an improvement after the operation. However, as with any surgical procedure there is a risk of side-effects and complications. A common side-effect of this procedure is retrograde ejaculation - where semen passes into the bladder during orgasm instead of out of the penis. Retrograde ejaculation is usually not a problem, although it may reduce fertility. Complications of the operation can include urinary incontinence or damage to the urethra, resulting in a "stricture" that can itself cause difficulty passing urine
  • TUIP:Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP) may be appropriate for men who have a less enlarged prostate. It is a quicker operation than a TURP and involves removing less tissue. It is performed under general or spinal anaesthetic. As with a TURP an instrument is passed up through the penis, but instead of removing a portion of the prostate, small cuts are made in the neck of the bladder and the prostate. This reduces the obstruction of the flow of urine
  • Open Prostatectomy: Open prostatectomy is only recommended for men whose prostate is very large. It is a major operation and carried out under a general anaesthetic. An incision is made in the lower abdomen in order to remove the central part of the prostate
  • Laser and Microwave: Laser therapy (using a laser probe to cut away prostate tissue) and transurethral microwave thermotherapy (using heat to remove some of the prostate tissue via a probe) are becoming more common in the treatment of BPH.

 

The Treatment of BPH using Herbal Medicine

Since widespread media coverage of the successful clinical trials of the herbal treatment of BPH, increasing numbers of men are looking for a safe and effective alternative to the pharmaceutical approach to medically diagnosed Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).

A recent updated review of the clinical trials concluded that herbal medication for BPH improves urological symptoms and flow measures compared with placebo produces similar improvement in urinary symptoms and flow when compared to the drug finasteride and is associated with fewer adverse treatment events.

The herbal medication contains several medicinal plants to decrease the size of the prostate and reduce inflammation. This approach is proving to be very effective for men, who have either been diagnosed with BPH or who simply want to support prostate health. The tradition of using medicinal plants to help maintain prostate health is now being underpinned by scientific research, which has been widely and favourably reported in the media.

In fact, many men are now taking it as a preventive measure to help avoid prostate problems. Evidence supports Herbal Medicine’s use for BPH. Many over the counter remedies and online products are of poor quality and will not have the required therapeutic effect. High strength medicinal herbs for prostate health are by prescription only and given only after a consultation.

If you have been diagnosed with BPH would like an effective and natural approach to managing it, call for an appointment.

 



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