Wellness Tips for Supporting a Healthy Prostate

It appears that men are taking a more active role in their health and in preventative medicine. There has been an increase in men’s health awareness in recent years; one particularly successful campaign is the annual Movember. But many men still need to pay more attention to their health. On average, men die at a significantly younger age than women; yet, there is no biological reason for this. Lifestyle choices may be the leading cause of this discrepancy. Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and make unhealthy or risky choices.[1]

Male menopause?

It is also important to realize that andropause is a real thing. Andropause or male menopause is a name given to a set of symptoms that appears in some aging men. It is related to the slow, but steady decline of testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in middle-aged men. Testosterone appears to decline by 10% every decade after age 30. [2] The consequences and symptoms of this change in hormone levels include alterations in body composition, decreased energy and muscle strength, reduced sexual desire and function, changes in well-being and mood, diminished cognitive function, and prostate enlargement. [3,4] In addition, a recent meta-analysis demonstrated that testosterone deficiency is associated with a three- to four-fold increased risk of diabetes mellitus, which is a known predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.[5]

Herbs that can help

Two star herbs that are effective in reducing many andropause symptoms are saw palmetto and pygeum. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a palm tree native to Florida whose berry’s fat soluble extract has been used to support healthy prostate tissue and function. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the condition of an enlarged prostate that causes urologic symptoms such as weak urine flow, incomplete voiding, and frequent daytime and nighttime urination. Herbal medicine uses saw palmetto to help reduce difficulty in urination associated with the early stages of BPH as well as in the management of other genitourinary problems, including prostatitis and urinary tract infections, low-sperm count and lack of libido, as well as for hair loss and balding.[6] Pygeum was shown in an Italian clinical trial to relieve the symptoms of benign prostate conditions. After only two months, all urinary parameters improved and no side effects were observed.[7] In addition, men who received pygeum were more than twice as likely to report an improvement in overall symptoms than men who received placebo. [7]

Mineral power

Minerals are also important for the male endocrine system. One such mineral is zinc, which is a trace element that enters the diet through our food. But, with depleted soils around the world, the mineral content in plants and animals is much lower than expected. Zinc supplementation is shown to improve sperm count, motility, and the physical characteristics of sperm in some groups of infertile men.[8] Zinc is also a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor with potential implications in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and other prostatic conditions in which elevated dihydrotestosterone (DHT) plays a role.[9] Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids that cause the production of a different type of prostaglandin that reduces inflammation. It can be a great food-based way to get zinc, but also the important fatty acids that exist in the oil. Pumpkin seed oil has been used for over 30 years in Europe as a therapeutic aid for urination problems related to irritable bladder.[10] Pumpkin seed extract has been identified as an effective therapy for urinary disorders and can therefore have a positive influence on a person’s quality of life.[10] As a general rule, always discuss the use of natural medicines with your health care practitioner and it may be valuable to get your hormone levels tested. With irregularities defined, choosing the correct supplement with the proper strength can provide effective relief from symptoms of hormone imbalance and support a happier, healthier life!

References:

1) Denton, M, Prus, S, Walters, V. Gender differences in health: a Canadian study of the psycho-social, structural and behavioural deteminants of health. Soc Sci Med. 2004; 58(12):2585-600.

2) Morley, J, Kaiser, F, Perry, H, Patrick P, Morley, P, Stauber, et al. Longitudinal changes in testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone in healthy older men. Metab. 1997 Apr; 46(4):410-3.

3) Matsumoto, A. Andropause: clinical implications of the decline in serum testosterone levels with aging in men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2002; 57:M76-M99.

4) Krieg, M, Nass, R, Tunn, S. Effect of aging on endogenous level of 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone, testosterone, estradiol, and estrone in epithelium and stroma of normal and hyperplastic human prostate. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993; 77:375-381.

5) Brand, J, Rovers, M, Yeap, B, Schneider, H, Tuomainen, T, Haring R, et al. Testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin and the metabolic syndrome in men: an individual participant data meta-analysis of observational studies. PLoS One. 2014; 9: e100409.

6) Geavlete, P, Multescu, R, Geavlete, B. Serenoa repens extract in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Ther Adv Urol. 2011 Aug; 3(4):193-8.

7) Carani, C, Salvioli, V, Scuteri, A, Borelli, A, Baldini, A, Granata, AR, et al. [Urological and sexual evaluation of treatment of benign prostatic disease using Pygeum africanum at high doses]. [Article in Italian]. Arch Ital Urol Nefrol Androl. 1991 Sep; 63(3):341-5.

8) Jiang, Z, Xingyou, D, Xiaoyan, H, Zhou, L, Liang, W, Qian, L, et al. Zinc levels in seminal plasma and their correlation with male infertility: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep [Internet]. 2016 Mar; Published online 2016 Mar 2. DOI: 10.1038/srep22386

9) Stamatiadis, D, Bulteau-Portois, M, Mowszowicz, I. Inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase activity in human skin by zinc and azelaic acid. Br J Dermatol. 1988 Nov;119(5):627-32.

10) Widy-Tyszkiewicz, E, Matlawska, I, Bylka, W. Assessment report on Cucurbita pepo L., semen. Eur Med Agency. 2012; EMA/HMPC/136022/2010.