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Prostate Problems

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We take it for granted that every man will have problems with his prostate as he advances in age. But while prostate problems are widespread, not every man is affected. Two out of three men over age 50 have an enlarged prostate, and it becomes more common with age.

We take it for granted that every man will have problems with his prostate as he advances in age. But while prostate problems are widespread, not every man is affected. Two out of three men over age 50 have an enlarged prostate, and it becomes more common with age.

For most men, the prostate gland is the "great unknown." It's astonishing how few men actually know anything about this vital organ, often referred to as the "male motor" or "sexual brain." It provides sexual desire and during intercourse gives gratification with its powerful muscular action. It's a chestnut-sized gland responsible for producing the fluid that mixes with semen, and it lies between the bladder and rectum, fitting snugly around the urethra. Any damage to the prostate may have a profound effect on sexual enjoyment and performance, and may lead to premature impotence.

Of the many clever and famous physicians throughout early history, not one wrote about or even mentioned the prostate gland. Even Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) failed to describe it in his Anatomy. The prostate was first presented anatomically by the 18th- century Italian physician Giovanni Battista Morgani. This absence of knowledge about the prostate and lack of information may indicate that prostate problems were not understood or did not seem significant. But times have changed.

We do know this malady is not selective it affects the rich, middle class and poor alike. Nor does it make any difference whether a person is sexually hyperactive, like the painter Pablo Picasso, or moderate, like the famous French statesman Charles de Gaulle. At age 76, actor Henry Fonda made his acquaintance with an enlarged prostate, later fighting cancer.

Prostate enlargement does not necessarily mean it will be followed by cancer, but both prostate enlargement and cancer are linked to hormonal changes similar to menopausal changes in women. Enlargement occurs when testosterone abnormally concentrates in the cells of the prostate. Symptoms appear gradually once the prostate reaches the size where it interferes with the release of urine. This causes dribbling when urinating, as well as the frequent urge to urinate, which means the bladder is only being partly emptied.

Time For an Oil Change

Since the turn of the last century, men began eating highly processed and refined foods containing hydrogenated, heat-damaged fats such as vegetable shortening and margarine. These manmade, manufactured fats contain heat damaged trans fatty acids, plastic-like molecular structures the body does not recognize as food and cannot metabolize properly. They have an overall negative effect on the hormone balance. These trans fatty acids actually block the complicated transformation of healthy essential fatty acids into prostaglandins, hormone-like substances required for healthy functioning of many body parts, particularly the prostate. For this transformation to take place the body also requires zinc and vitamin B6, usually deficient in refined foods consisting mostly of white flour and sugar.

Wouldn't it make sense to cut from the diet all foods containing these harmful trans fatty acids? They're indicated on food labels as shortening and modified or hydrogenated vegetable oils (palm, cottonseed, canola, soya). Trans fatty acids are basically in all junk foods, fries and snacks, most baked goods, and in all refined commercial oils and salad dressings made with these heat processed oils. The best and right thing to do is to have an "oil change." Replace the bad oils and fats with good, unrefined cold-pressed seed oils, made from flax, pumpkin, hemp and walnuts. These oils contain essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, from which the body derives gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a precursor for prostaglandins. These hormone-like substances actively curb inflammation of the prostate and help prevent enlargement.

Fresh, natural food ensures your body receives vitamins A, C, E and B6, enzymes and antioxidants that scavenge free radicals. Avoid saturated fats from red meat, which exacerbate prostate enlargement. Also eliminate refined sugar in soft drinks and wherever sugar is used as sweetener, which puts undue stress on the hormonal system.

Pumpkin seeds and their cold-pressed, unrefined oil have a long reputation for preventing prostate enlargement. Recent clinical studies confirm that a unique medicinal ingredient called delta-7 sterole, which is found in large amounts in pumpkin seeds, can prevent the buildup of testosterone in the prostate.

Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, but the body needs vitamin B6 to absorb zinc. Foods rich in both zinc and B6 are nutritional yeast, eggs and sardines. I have made it a habit to make my salad dressings with flax and pumpkin seed oil with added nutritional yeast. On my kitchen table you will always find a bowl of nuts and pumpkin seeds to ensure a sufficient intake of good oils.

Prostate-Friendly Herbs

In conjunction with a proper diet, herbs provide effective prevention and healing support. Maria Treben, the famous Austrian herbalist, recommends drinking daily a cup of herbal tea made with the small flowered willow herb, as this offers protection against inflamed prostatis. The herbal remedies I have listed here can be taken indefinitely without side-effects.

Saw palmetto berries specifically affect hormones to reduce benign prostate enlargement. The tincture taken with wheat germ oil is even more beneficial. Take two drops of saw palmetto tincture in one teaspoon wheat germ oil three times daily. Horsetail tincture taken at the same time increases the action due to the cell strengthening silica it contains.

White dead-nettle tea is an astringent with a positive effect on reducing benign prostate enlargement, recommended also for post surgery, one cup of tea or 15 drops of tincture in liquid three times daily.

In health food stores you can find several good herbal combinations such as Flor-Essence and Essiac that include sheep sorrel, burdock root, slippery elm, Turkish rhubarb and red clover. They are immune strengthening and recommended as treatment support for cancer patients.

For more detailed information on natural healing and nutritional support for prostate problems, I highly recommend the alive Encyclopedia of Natural Healing (alive Books, 2002) and other books sold in health food stores and nutritional centres.

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