Does waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom sound familiar? If you’re a man and you’re over 40, chances are you’ve experienced the all-too-common symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), even if you don’t recognize it by name. Frequent urination, especially in the middle of the night, constant bathroom trips, are the signature of this annoying but essentially harmless condition. So is a hesitant, interrupted or weak stream of urine, a pressing urgency to urinate, leaking or dribbling.
The prostate continues to grow as we age, often resulting in BPH. More than half of men in their 60s and as many as 90 percent in their 70s and 80s have BPH symptoms, so you younger guys need to start taking care of your prostate now.
Annoying as it is, BPH is not usually dangerous. However you need to be aware of two things. One, urine retention and strain on the bladder can lead to more serious problems, including bladder damage, kidney damage, bladder stones, urinary tract infection and the inability to control urination. Two, if you catch BPH early, there’s a much lower risk of such complications. And fortunately, there are some easy and natural ways to bring relief.
BPH is one of those conditions where using nutritional and herbal supplements can really make a noticeable difference. Herbal medicines for BPH are used widely in Europe, and for very good reason.
The people at Pharmacare asked me to share my professional opinion about their original Prostate Formula and their new Prostate Complete formula. I am impressed with the formulas because they contain nearly all of the ingredients I typically recommend for prostate health.
Saw palmetto. When people think of BPH, saw palmetto is often the first herb that pops up. A great deal of research has been done on the supplement, with a German study finding that saw palmetto extract reduced nighttime urination and improved urinary flow.
Beta-sitosterol. This plant sterol is found in almost all plants, but especially in rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils and soybeans. In clinical research, it’s been shown to reduce BPH symptoms.
Nettles (stinging nettles). Nettles have long been believed to benefit prostate health. A study in the Journal of Herb Pharmacotherapy (2005; 5 (4): 1-11) found that it improved urinary flow. Those patients undergoing stinging nettle treatment for BPH also had a somewhat smaller prostate gland size.
Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seed extract is thought to be prostate-friendly and is frequently found in prostate health supplements.
Zinc. The research is incomplete on zinc for BPH, although it is often recommended by holistic health practitioners. The best-absorbed forms of zinc are zinc picolinate and zinc citrate.
Essential fatty acids. The fact that a great deal of research has shown that essential fatty acids are helpful for many conditions means that they might help with BPH if for no other reason than that they’re anti-inflammatory.
Amino acids (glycine, alanine and glutamic acid). Two studies showed that a mix of these three amino acids in a dose of 750 mg three times daily were beneficial for BPH.
In general, diet is also important to the health of the prostate gland, so the “cleaner” you eat the better. A diet of protein from uncontaminated fish and grass-fed meat; tons of vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans; Malaysian palm oil, avocado oil, ghee or grass-fed butter, is also a good idea. So yes you can reduce your bathroom breaks.
JONNY BOWDEN: BIO
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, also known as “The Nutrition Myth Buster” ™ is a nationally known board-certified nutritionist and expert on diet and weight loss. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS as an expert on nutrition has contributed to articles in The New York Times, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Men’s Health, Prevention, and dozens of other print and online publications.