This week’s topic will be of interest mainly to us older men. As we progress past our 40s, our prostate glands tend to enlarge, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Nodules growing within the prostate can block the urethra, interfering with urination resulting in incomplete emptying of the bladder, feelings of urgency to urinate, and frequent trips to the bathroom at night.
Several pharmaceutical drugs are effective at both relieving symptoms and reducing the size of the prostate, but are slow acting and not without significant side effects (which may include erectile dysfunction and loss of libido). If drug therapy fails, surgery may be considered, which is not without risk or side effects either (and doesn’t sound like fun to me!).
There are many natural herbals used for BPH like saw palmetto, pygeum, stinging nettle, and pumpkin seed. The active ingredient in these appears to be a compound called beta-sitosterol. While they do a fair job of relieving the symptoms of BPH, there is no evidence that they actually reduce the size of the prostate which is the underlying cause of the problem.
One exception among natural prostate products is defined pollen extract. Developed in Sweden and long popular in Europe, it is now available in Canada. The pollen extract is made from specific pollens – mostly rye and some other grasses – and should not be confused with bee pollen. In clinical trials defined pollen extract not only improved symptoms of BPH as well or better than the herbals but also reduced prostate size. And it acts relatively quickly with improvements noticed in just a few weeks.
The pollen extract is safe for long term use. It has been shown to lower PSA levels and shows promise in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Trials have also shown that the pollen extract is helpful with chronic prostatitis and prostatodynia (while saw palmetto and the other herbals are not).
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.