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Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
Benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH, is a relatively harmless condition in which the prostate become enlarged, pressing against the urethra. Symptoms include frequent urination, reduced flow, a painful need to urinate, impotence, and a loss of libido. Aside from relieving symptoms, some form of treatment is needed for the well-being of the urinary system — an enlarged prostate can lead to urinary tract infections and even kidney infections.
For most men this problem will develop eventually. While prescription medications and even surgery are a solution there are easy methods of treatment they do not yield all the dreaded negative side effects. A healthy diet and regular exercise should be the foundation for addressing an enlarged prostate but BPH herbal remedies can be very effective as well. Which herbs can safely be used and what can be expected from herbal therapy?
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Soothing the Urinary System
One important consideration for BPH is treating the urinary system. Diuretic herbs such as corn silk, hydrangea, dandelion, and parsley can be beneficial. These herbs will help the body eliminate toxins through urination, acting to prevent an infection but also tone the urinary tract. Corn silk is particularly useful if there is any pain or irritation.
These herbs are all safe for general use (parsley should not be used in medicinal doses during pregnancy, but that shouldn't be an issue for treating prostate problems). Dandelion tea can be found in most natural food stores. You can also use the dried herbs and make a tea of one or more of these herbs. Use two teaspoons total for every one up of boiling water. Drink one to three cups daily.
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Saw Palmetto for the Male Reproductive System
Saw palmetto is the go-to herb for male reproductive health. It tones the system and increases sex hormones as needed. It helps to treat an enlarged prostate by reducing the amount of hormonal stimulation of the prostate gland. Saw palmetto is probably the most popular and well-known herbal remedy for benign prostatic hypertrophy. Because of this (keep in mind that approximately 80 percent of men end up with an enlarged prostate) the market is flooded with saw palmetto products. Make sure you buy a natural, high-quality, trusted product when purchasing a supplement to ensure proper potency. You can also make a herbal infusion with the dried berries. Add one teaspoonful of the berries to a cup of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for five minutes.
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Nettles are an overall wonderful herb for promoting well-being. With astringent and diuretic properties this plant will help to support the urinary system. Nettles will also help with the inflammation. Nettle root in particular, when combined with saw palmetto has been known to be very effective with treating BPH. There are no negative effects of taking nettles and in fact this herb has so many positive side effects from providing nutrition to purifying the blood of toxins, that supplementing with it is only going to benefit the body. You can make a tea with the dried herb, although it may be easier to find nettle root in capsule or tincture form.
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Another herb, pygeum africanum, also known as African tree bark, is a well-known herbal remedy for BPH. In studies it has been shown to relieve the minor symptoms of this condition. While beneficial it is important to note that the tree that this bark comes from is now on the endangered list.
BPH herbal remedies offer so much to men who suffer from an enlarged prostate. They are a safe and natural form of treatment. While herbs are beneficial in many cases, they are not always effective. There are possible reasons that herbs may or may not work. First, considering that herbal medicine is a form of holistic medicine, treating the body rather than suppressing symptoms, if other factors such as diet, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise are not addressed, then herbs alone cannot create the necessary state of well-being that allows for healing. Second, be careful what herbal products you purchase. They are not regulated by the FDA and some pills and supplements may not contain the proper phytochemicals. Look for trusted brands and natural origins.
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Kirchheimer, Sid. "Herbal Remedies Can Aid Prostate Health." (WebMD) <http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20030204/herbal-remedies-prostate>
"Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia." (National Institutes of Health) <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11869585>
Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
Photo by H Zell (CC/wiki)
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