Archive for November, 2004

What Is The Prostate And What Does It Do?




what is the prostateThe prostate gland is a vital part of the male reproductive system that serves an important sexual function. But if you don’t already know this… you’re not alone. In 1995, the London Times reported on the results of a survey that asked men about their prostate glands.

The vast majority (89%) of the men surveyed didn’t even know where the prostate is located! Sixty-two percent of them mistook it for the bladder, and only about half of them knew that only men could have prostate problems!

What’s even more embarrassing is that the women they interviewed knew more about the prostate than we men do. Knowing what your prostate gland is, and how it functions will help you understand its importance and why it can cause difficulties when it’s not functioning properly.

So What Exactly Is The Prostate Gland?

The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland that surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis) and lies at the base of the bladder. This gland secrets about 25% of the seminal fluid that’s combined with sperm during ejaculation. The prostatic fluid acts as a lubricant to prevent infection in the urethra and protects and energizes sperm.

The three common diseases of the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), commonly known as an enlarged prostate, prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and prostate cancer.

From Normal To An Enlarged Prostate (BPH)

In a newborn male the prostate is very small, about the size of a grain of wheat. At the onset of puberty it begins to grow dramatically until around the age of twenty. Then it normally remains fairly constant in size for a number of years. However, due to hormonal changes that take place after the age of 40, the prostate begins to significantly bulk up. The gland can grow to many times its normal size, and in extreme cases it can even grow as large as a grapefruit. This is a condition referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. As the prostate enlarges, it narrows the diameter of the urethra and puts pressure against the bladder, obstructing the flow of urine, resulting in discomfort and troublesome symptoms.

Prostatitis – Inflammation of the Prostate

Inflammation of the prostate, known as prostatitis, afflicts men both young and old. It is usually the result of a bacterial infection. For more information about prostatitis, make sure to see our other resources on this site related to prostatitis.

Prostate Cancer – The Condition No Man Ever Wants To Be Faced With

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. So if you’re concerned about the likelihood of ever being stricken with this deadly disease, the wise thing to do is to be aware of the facts so that you can take positive action to help keep your prostate healthy. Knowledge really is power. We have an entire page on devoted to prostate cancer, so make sure to read that if you are concerned about prostate cancer.

Another great source of information about prostate health is the WebMD page on prostate health.

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The Self-Beneficial Virtues Of Prostate Care




Prostate-GlandOne of the most prevalent health risks men over the age of 50 faces are prostate problems. Located between the bladder and the penis, the prostate is a small gland that promotes proper sexual functioning and a healthy reproductive system. Due to a variety of reasons, cancer of the prostate has become one of the most common forms of cancer to strike men.

The good news is that with proper prostate care the chance of developing prostate cancer and other prostate problems can be drastically reduced.

The beginning signs of prostate issues are difficulty urinating and other troubling symptoms. The first stage of prostate disease is Enlarging Prostate (EP). This is the stage where prostate care can be most effective. Men over 50 should have regular check ups to ensure their prostate gland is healthy and working properly. An EP can also lead to painful urinary infections.

There are a variety of therapies and approaches to treat prostate problems. Prostate care for EP usually begins with a regiment of drugs called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors or 5ARIs. This class of drugs influences prostate care by slowing the body’s creation of DHT, a hormone that leads to an enlargement of the prostate.

Another drug, alpha blockers only treat symptoms. This class of drugs can ease the muscles in the bladder and increase urine flow. In a sense, it is like taking an Aspirin for a headache – there is still an underlying cause.

The reality of prostate care has changed over time. Years ago it was usually a fatal condition. Research and discoveries have linked proper diet, exercise, healthy habits and regular check ups to helping avoid prostate problems entirely.

Prostate care has come a long way in a short period of time. New therapies, drugs and surgeries are less invasive and are highly successful in treating prostate conditions.

If you are concerned about the condition of your prostate or are looking for more information on prostate care, there are a variety of sources on the Internet and in magazines that can help you become informed about the extent of prostate problems affecting men over 50.

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Prostatitis Can Be Cured




ProstatitisProstate infections are extremely difficult to diagnose and treat because many doctors do not order the right tests and even when they make the correct diagnosis, they often fail to treat the condition long enough or they fail to treat infected partners.

Symptoms: Chronic prostatitis is characterized by a feeling of having to urinate all the time, discomfort during urination, terrible discomfort when the bladder is full and having to get up many time each night to urinate. Benign prostatic hypertrophy or large prostate causes difficulty starting stream and dribbling. Prostate cancer rarely causes burning on urination or urgency.

Tests: Total and free PSA blood test to screen for cancer, check your prostate and sometimes order a sonogram of the prostate. If I am suspicious of a prostate cancer, I will refer you to a urologist for further evaluation. Your doctor can order a urinalysis and urine culture. If abnormal, your doctor will treat a urinary tract infection, but it is usually normal. Then, your doctor may do a special swab for chlamydia and gonorrhea and request a semen culture. No test is available for practicing physicians to diagnose mycoplasma or ureaplasma and the test for chlamydia is not dependable. The only dependable test for prostate infection is for your doctor to massage your prostate to collect secretions and immediately check your secretions for white blood cells. If a) he sees more than 5 white blood cells in your secretions under the microscope, or b) the white blood cells are clumped together; or c) your urine has a positive leukocyte esterase or nitrite test and your urine culture and semen do not grow a germ, the odds are overwhelming that you are infected with chlamydia, mycoplasma or ureaplasma or something else that cannot be diagnosed.

Failure to see white blood cells in your secretions does not rule out a prostate infection. Most urologists do not order semen cultures because they claim that they are always contaminated with germs from the skin. Recent studies from Cornell and Mexico City show that they are wrong (2,3). Most men collect semen cultures from the vagina or mouth which always is contaminated. If the patient is asked to shower and clean himself with soap and water, then collect the specimen with his hands and then let it squirt into the culture jar without touching it, the culture is very dependable (2).

Prostate infections are extraordinarily difficult to cure because antibiotics do not accumulate in high concentrations in the prostate. So most men have to take appropriate antibiotics for many months and their partners have to take the same antibiotics for a much shorter duration. I often prescribe a quinolone antibiotic called Tequin for several months, or a combination of Tequin and doxycycline. If you do not feel much better by six weeks, you may need to ejaculate frequently or find a kind urologist who will agree to massage your prostate at least once a week while you take the antibiotics. UCLA researchers report that 40 percent were cured, 20 percent were initially cured and then had a recurrence perhaps because the partner was not treated, 21 percent were improved and only 21 percent had no improvement. All the men who had bacteria in their semen cultures produced sterile specimens after treatment.

Treatment of prostatitis with long-term antibiotics is controversial and not accepted by many doctors; discuss this with your doctor.

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Prostate Cancer Symptoms – Benefits Of Early Diagnosis




Prostate CancerCancer of the prostate is typically a slow progressing cancer and symptoms often do not arise for many years. If the cancer is caught at an early stage, there might be no noticeable symptoms. Some men, however, will experience symptoms that could indicate the presence of prostate cancer. These might include:

* A need for frequent urination, particularly at night
* Difficulty starting urination
* Weak or interrupted urine flow
* Pain or a burning sensation during urination
* Difficulty in obtaining an erection
* Pain during ejaculation
* Blood in the urine or in semen
* Recurring pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

Sometimes the first symptoms will be lower back, hip or pelvic pain caused by cancer which has already spread.

It is important to be aware that the symptoms of both benign enlargement of the prostate gland (i.e. non-cancerous) and malignant tumours (cancer) are similar and might include any of the following symptoms:

* Difficulty starting urination
* Frequent urination, particularly at night
* Pain during urination
* Blood in the urine

Also, men over 50 years of age often have an enlarged prostate gland due to the non-cancerous condition of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or hypertrophy.

Therefore if you notice any of the above symptoms it is important that you see your doctor and have them investigated. But note that most enlargements of the prostate are not due to cancer and can regularly be dealt with quite effectively.


Prostate cancer can often be discovered at an early stage by testing the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. Prostate cancer can also be detected early by your doctor performing a digital rectal examination (DRE). Since the prostate gland is situated close to the rectum, a doctor can physically detect if there are any cancerous signs in your prostate.

Unfortunately the PSA and DRE tests are not totally accurate and conclusive. This can lead to anxiety and confusion, or even to a false sense of security. So important things to consider are your age, your general health and your lifestyle. If you are young and develop prostate cancer, if not caught early enough, it could shorten your life. If however you are older or in poor health, then prostate cancer might never become a serious problem due to its slow-growing nature.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men commence having the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) annually from the age of 50. Those at higher risk, such as African Americans and those with close relatives who developed prostate cancer at an early age are recommended to commence testing at 45.

The prognosis for prostate cancer sufferers has improved dramatically in recent years. In the past twenty years the overall survival rate for all stages of prostate cancer has increased from 67% to 97%. Thus more men are living significantly longer after diagnosis. In all likelihood this is due to early detection programs, increased public awareness, particularly of prostate cancer symptoms, and the adoption of healthier lifestyles.

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Powerful Herbal Remedies Scientifically Proven To Heal An Enlarged Prostate (BPH) or Prostatitis




Prostate Herbal RemediesIf you’re familiar with conventional treatments for prostate disorders and are interested in finding out more about gentler, safer, more natural remedies to heal your prostate condition, then you’ll want to read every last word of this article.

Research has shown that there are safe, non-drug, non-surgical natural remedies that work every bit as effectively as prescription drugs in healing common prostate conditions.

You may have already heard about the amazing healing power of saw palmetto and how it can help heal even the most enlarged prostate. You may even be taking it yourself. But, as you’re about to discover, there are two other very powerful, and highly effective healing herbs proven to heal an enlarged prostate (BPH) or prostatitis, as effectively as prescription drugs.

Healing Herb #1) Pygeum africanum

The first of these powerful healing herbs is Pygeum (Pygeum africanum) and it is used extensively in France and other European countries to treat prostate disorders. In several double-blind studies pygeum was shown to improve prostate symptoms significantly with no appreciable side effects. One such study also found that pygeum increased sexual ability.

Pygeum comes from the African prune tree, an evergreen that grows in central and southern Africa. Historically, natives found its powdered bark to be an effective treatment for urinary disorders. Europeans in Africa took note and pygeum came into use as a valuable treatment for BPH.

In France, over 80 percent of all doctors’ prescriptions for BPH include pygeum extract. The extract from pygeum contains phytosterols that have been shown to produce anti-inflammatory effects on the prostate. Studies show that pygeum also reduces prolactin levels and blocks the accumulation of cholesterol in the prostate. Other studies show that pygeum acts as a mild antibiotic, which is why it helps relieve the symptoms of prostatitis as well as BPH. Controlled research studies conducted in European countries have clearly demonstrated pygeum’s effectiveness in treating prostate disorders. An example is a double-blind study involving 263 patients that was carried out in eight centers in Germany, France and Austria (Barlet, 1990). A double-blind study is one in which neither the doctor nor the patient knows whether he is taking the medication or a placebo until the end of the trial. The therapeutic results were significant. They showed a remarkable 66 percent improvement in the group receiving pygeum and there were no significant side effects. An Italian study of men suffering from BPH or chronic prostatitis was done to evaluate the efficacy of pygeum on those conditions (Carani, 1991). Because of the high frequency of association of sexual disorders with those two pathologies, the study was also extended to include a study of sexual disturbances. The results showed that pygeum extract improved all the urinary parameters they investigated and there was also improvement in sexual function. No side effects were observed during the treatment.

Healing Herb #2) Stinging Nettle Root (Urtica dioica)

An herb that grows wild in the United States, stinging nettle has been shown to have a highly therapeutic effect on the prostate gland. Like pygeum, urtica dioica contains phytosterols that exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on prostate tissue. Scientists have found that Urtica dioica works synergistically with pygeum. In fact, doctors in Europe commonly prescribe a Urtica/Pygeum combination for patients who suffer from prostate disorders. In a recent study using a combination of pygeum and urtica dioica, of the 2,080 patients suffering from BPH, a vast majority of the patients showed marked improvement in their symptoms by the end of the study (Schneider, 1995). Another study conducted by the Department of Clinical Pharmacology of Tokyo College of Pharmacy in Japan (Hirano, 1994) investigated the effect of Urtica dioica on BPH tissue. The conclusion was that stinging nettle root inhibited certain activity in the prostate to suppress prostate cell metabolism and growth.

With such impressive results from treatments that have proven to be effective, are without dangerous side effects, and are preferred by European doctors, why is it that the medical establishment in the United States continues to put so much emphasis on drugs and surgery? Possibly part of it is our fascination with new technologies, part of it training. Undoubtedly, a large part of it is the immense profitability for drug companies who aggressively market their products to the medical establishment. Merck, manufacturers of Proscar, has predicted sales of the drug will soon reach $1 billion a year. And this despite its known health hazards!

Julian Whitaker, M.D., a well-known physician and critic of currently established medical practices, says our government “continuously and irresponsibly ignores the findings of these superior botanical supplements” and has “jumped into bed with the drug companies.” Michael Murray, N.D., a leading researcher in the field of natural medicine and co-author of the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, illustrates the fallacy of assuming that drugs are the only answer for treating prostate problems. In Health Counselor magazine he reports that numerous studies on the saw palmetto extract have shown it to be effective in nearly 90 percent of patients, usually in a period of four to six weeks. In contrast, Proscar is effective in reducing the symptoms in less than 37 percent after taking the drug for one year! Murray states, “Clearly, the saw palmetto extract is superior to Proscar. Although Proscar has received much attention, based on the clinical trials, it is much less effective than the extract of saw palmetto berries. Less than 37 percent of patients on Proscar will experience clinical improvement after taking the drug for one year and it must be taken for at least six months before any improvement can be expected.”

An additional drawback is that Proscar can result in decreased libido, ejaculatory disorders and impotence. Another alarming hazard of Proscar is that it can cause birth defects in male infants if a pregnant woman comes in contact with it. It is absorbed through the skin, so just handling the bottle could be dangerous. There have also been reports that even coming in contact with the semen of a man taking Proscar can cause these birth defects, but this has not been substantiated as yet. In contrast, phytonutrients are safe and effective treatments for prostate health problems. They are virtually free of harmful side effects, far less expensive than drugs (in terms of money, not to mention the price of terrible side effects), and they have the advantage of enhancing other life functions besides the specific condition for which they are being given.

Healing Herb #3) Saw Palmetto

If you’re like most men who suffer from prostate problems, chances are you’ve heard of Saw Palmetto, and may even take it.

But what you may not know is that Saw Palmetto extract does much more than simply relieve you of your symptoms. Scientists have determined that saw palmetto extract may actually reverse the hormonal mechanism that causes prostate disorders.

Brief History Of Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is a dwarf palm that grows in the southeastern United States. Its berries were used by the American Indians to treat genitourinary tract difficulties and as a general tonic as well. In the 1960s, European research on saw palmetto led to it becoming the most popular phytomedicine in Europe for treatment of an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In Germany, saw palmetto and other plant extracts are used to treat nearly 90 percent of BPH patients.

How Does Saw Palmetto Work?

To understand how saw palmetto works, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what causes the prostate gland to become enlarged in the first place. It’s widely believed that the primary culprit that causes prostate enlargement is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is a derivative of testosterone that causes the prostate tissue to grow abnormally large. An increase in the production of DHT begins to occur in men with age (usually after 45).

Research has revealed that the extract of the saw palmetto berry contains very powerful compounds. These compounds found hidden in saw palmetto berry extract consist of fatty acids, and phytosterols (plant sterols). These compounds combat prostate disorders in three unique ways:

1) They inhibit the production of DHT.

2) They inhibit the binding of DHT to androgen receptors in the prostate cells.

3) They block the effect of estrogen on prostate tissue (acts as an aromatase inhibitor).

In recent years, scientists have discovered a synergistic effect by combining the herbs Pygeum africanum, Nettle Root and Saw Palmetto. In fact many prostate formulas now have this combination of herbal ingredients, which have proven to be the most effective herbs in fighting prostate health problems.

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