What you need to know about Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
The prostate gland surrounds the urethra as it exits the bladder. The majority of men will develop a pathologically enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH). Enlargement on its own is harmless, but if the gland gets too big it can constrict the normal flow of urine. Men can be left with a hesitant, weak urine stream, dribbling, irritation, and inadequate emptying of the bladder requiring multiple nightly trips to the bathroom. The good news, though, is that like many other health problems, to some degree, it can be prevented and treated.
So what if you already have it?
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is probably the best known remedy for BPH. Saw palmetto extracts predominantly consist of fatty acids (up to 90% depending on the quality of supplement) and they are believed to be a unique quality, being different to other vegetable and nut oils. They are a rich source of the saturated, medium-chain fatty acids; laurate (12:0) and myristate (14:0). Saw palmetto is also high in phytosterols (β-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol). β-sitosterol is one form of plant sterol, often taken alone and is traditionally used for BPH. A number of studies have found that saw palmetto and individual plant sterol β-sitosterol supplements improve lower urinary tract symptoms in men suffering from BPH. One small trial of 18 patients showed a supplement with both of these ingredients, plus quercetin led to improved voiding function.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) contains curcumin and other curcuminoids, which are natural strong anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Amongst other properties, they are also antioxidants. Curcumin is known to be the strongest part of turmeric, but many supplements do not absorb well. It is important to buy a quality supplement which is proven to absorb in to the body, when you need the curcumin to get past the bowel and circulate in to other tissues. In one study 30 men with BPH took a curcumin food supplement for 60 days, resulting in reduced urinary irritation period. In other studies (animal and man), curcumin was also positive in improving BPH symptoms.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is more effective at maintaining blood levels than vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 regulates some of the metabolic pathways involved in prostate growth and is known to decrease prostate size. Good dietary intakes have been linked with a lower risk of developing BPH. In one study of 155 men in their 70s, blood vitamin D levels were significantly associated with prostate size – the lower their vitamin D level, the larger their prostate gland. Vitamin D3 is found in oily fish, fish liver oils, animal liver, fortified margarine, eggs, butter and fortified milk. The EU recommended daily amount (NRV) for vitamin D is 5 mcg (200 IU) per day, although evidence now suggests that it should be much higher.