It's a sad fact of growing older for the male species. Most men over the age of 60 (and some in their 50s) develop some symptoms of prostate problems. The three most common disorders are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate; prostatitis, an inflammatory infection; and prostate cancer. BPH is so common that some physicians consider it a normal consequence of aging in males.
The prostate's main role is to produce an essential portion of the seminal fluid that carries sperm. This walnut-shaped gland located just below a man's bladder starts to kick in near puberty and continues to grow and grow. This enlargement doesn't usually cause symptoms until after age 40, and it usually doesn't cause problems until age 60 or later.
An enlarged prostate is problematic because it presses on the urethra, creating difficulties with urination and weakening the bladder. Some of the symptoms of prostate problems include:
frequent urination, especially at night
difficulty starting urination
an inability to empty the bladder
a dribble of urine despite the urgent need to urinate
a burning sensation when urinating
uncontrolled dribbling after urination
pain behind the scrotum
Ignoring prostate problems, as some men are wont to do, isn't a smart idea. Left untreated, prostate problems can get progressively worse, become more painful, and can lead to dangerous complications, including bladder and kidney infections.
Changes in diet can help relieve some prostate discomforts and, in some cases, may reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer. Check out how home remedies from the kitchen can help.
Home Remedies from the Cupboard
Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are used by German doctors to treat difficult urination that accompanies an enlarged prostate that is not cancerous. The seeds contain diuretic properties and plenty of zinc, which helps repair and build the immune system. The tastiest way to enjoy pumpkin seeds is to eat them plain. Remove the shells and don't add salt. You can also try a tea. Crush a handful of fresh seeds and place in the bottom of a 1-pint jar. Fill with boiling water. Let cool to room temperature. Strain and drink a pint of pumpkin seed tea a day.
Home Remedies from the Refrigerator
Corn silk. The silk from corn has been used by Amish men for generations as a remedy for the symptoms of prostate enlargement. When fresh corn is in season, cut the silk from 6 ears of corn. (Corn silk can be dried for later use, too.) Put in 1 quart water, boil, and simmer for ten minutes. Strain and drink a cup. Drink 3 cups a week.
Fish. From the deep comes a way to fight prostate cancer and tumor growth. Try to get 2 servings a week of fish high in omega-3 oils (the good oil), such as tuna, mackerel, or salmon.
Soy. Learning to like and use soy foods is an easy and good way to help nip prostate problems in the bud. Soy-based foods contain phytoestrogens, which are thought to help reduce testosterone production, which is believed to aggravate prostate cancer growth. The phytoestrogens are believed to limit the growth of blood capillaries that form around tumors of the prostate.
Tomatoes. Seize that salsa! Pour on the spaghetti sauce! Down that tomato juice! Learn to add more tomatoes to your diet. Studies have shown that as little as 2 servings of tomatoes (including cooked tomatoes) a week can help men reduce their risk of prostate cancer by half. These red orbs are full of lycopene, an antioxidant compound that helps fight cancer.
Watermelon seeds. The Amish use watermelon tea to flush out the system and help with bladder problems and prostate problems. Enjoy a slice of watermelon and spit the seeds in a cup. When you have 1/8 cup fresh watermelon seeds, put them in a 1-pint jar and fill with boiling water. Let the tea cool, strain, and drink. Drink 1 pint of tea every day for ten days.
Home Remedies from the Supplement Shelf
Saw palmetto. The extract of the berries of this plant has been shown to work as well or better than prescription drugs in improving urinary flow rates and reducing the symptoms of BPH, such as urinary hesitancy and weak flow. The extract works by altering certain hormone levels, thus reducing prostate enlargement. Palmetto extracts can be purchased at the health food store. Consult your physician for recommended dosages.
Stinging nettle. Stinging nettle has been used in Europe for more than a decade, and studies have shown it to reduce symptoms of prostate problems. Nettle helps by inhibiting binding of testosterone-related proteins to their receptor sites on prostate cell membranes. Take stinging nettle in extract form (as capsules). Check with your physician for the correct dosage.
Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Limit your intake of fatty foods and red meats.
Schedule an annual prostate exam. Catching problems early is vital.
Watch your alcohol intake. Studies have shown that beer can raise prolactin levels in the body, which in turn can eventually lead to prostate enlargement.
As mentioned previously, saw palmetto is a natural supplement that can be particularly effective in treating prostate conditions.