Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is caused by the gradual enlargement of the prostate gland. By the age of 70 nearly all men will have some prostate enlargement. About half of those over 75 will experience symptoms.

The prostate is a gland located in the pelvis. It wraps around the urethra, which transports urine or semen to the outside of the body. It secretes a portion of semen during ejaculation. The symptoms of BPH are caused by the growing prostate placing pressure on the urethra.

Symptoms can include:

    • Frequent urination
    • Sudden urge to urinate
    • Needing to urinate at night
    • Weak urine flow
    • Incomplete bladder emptying
    • Straining to urinate
    • Urine stream which starts and stops
    • Blood in the urine

Even though BPH is a growth, it is not cancerous, it will not spread, or metastasize to other tissues. Further, it does not increase the risk of prostate cancer. For most men, BPH only causes irritating urinary symptoms. However, in some instances, BPH can lead to kidney problems, bladder enlargement or urinary tract infections.

What causes BPH?

It is thought that increased levels of a hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) may cause the prostate to grow. DHT is created from testosterone by the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. DHT has a much stronger stimulatory effect than testosterone on prostate tissue.

How can naturopathic medicine provide support?

Naturopathic medicine focuses on treating the person, not the diagnosis.  As a result, treatment varies based on the patient’s individual symptoms and illness severity. It can also include addressing other health concerns that may worsen symptoms, such as constipation, stress or poor sleep quality.

General Lifestyle Counseling:

  • Dietary Changes
    • Reducing your consumption of red meat and animal fat may prevent BPH.
    • An increase in organic vegetable consumption supports overall health.
    • Avoid drinking fluids before bed to decrease the urge to urinate at night.
  • Exercise
    • Increasing physical activity can improve blood flow to the prostate gland.

Botanical support:

Serenoa repens

    • Fatty acids extracted from this plant can inhibit 5 alpha-reductase. Research had found this very safe extract can reduce prostate enlargement in some men.

Ganoderma lucidum

    • Early research suggests this mushroom may reduce symptoms of incontinence and urinary urgency.

Allium sativa

    • A recent study found garlic extract taken daily for a month reduced prostate size.

Urtica diocia

    • This nutrient-dense plant can provide symptom relief but has no effect on prostate size.

Ammi visnaga

    • This herb acts as an antispasmodic, which means it promotes smooth muscle relaxation. In some men this can decrease nocturnal urination.

Soy

    • Soy contains a compound called isoflavones that can modulate the effect of estrogen in the body. Studies have shown consuming soy isoflavones can reduce the severity of BPH symptoms. Regular consumption of soy has also been researched as a strategy to prevent BPH.

Cernilton

    • This pollen extract has been shown to significantly decrease urinary symptoms though it’s an anti-inflammatory effect. It is also believed to improve bladder contraction, helping to decrease urinary retention.

Pumpkin seeds

    • Pumpkin seeds are an excellent dietary source of zinc.
      • Zinc is believed to decrease the conversion of testosterone to DHT by reducing the activity of 5 alpha-reductase.
      • According to research zinc may play a role in preventing the onset of BPH.

Cranberry

    • Cranberry extract may be recommended to reduce the likelihood of a urinary tract infection.