Not very long ago, one of my male patients came in and said, “Doc, how about giving me the magic adjustment for my prostate.”  After I regained my composure and we laughed a lot, the real story came out.  He had been having some prostate difficulties for some time and was considering surgical options but was afraid of some of the complications from surgery.  He wanted to know if I knew of anything that would help.  In dealing with some herbalists in the past, I know of some herbal treatments but have had no real first-hand experience myself.  I did as I usually do – take a poll of my patients. Of course, none of them came forward and admitted any prostate trouble at all.  I knew then that I would have to do some leg work to help him out.  I have written on this subject before, but we are getting the questions about prostate health more frequently so it warrants repeating with some new and updated information.

First of all, there is of course no magic adjustment for the prostate.  All adjustments help keep the nervous system free of interference so that organs, glands, and tissues work better in general.  Sometimes, though, the body needs some assistance in its healing processes and prostate trouble is one of those things that need some gentle nudges.  I went to work digging up everything I could on the subject and here is what I learned.

Regardless of what my male patients have told me, 80 percent of American men can count on prostate problems in their lifetimes.  These problems come in three major categories: 1. prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate, 2. benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlargement of the prostate, and 3. prostate cancer.  The prostate is a walnut-sized organ that is part muscle, part gland and sits under the bladder.  Urine passes from the kidneys to the bladder then through the urethra which passes through the prostate before exiting the body. If the prostate is enlarged, the urethra is narrowed by the enlargement.  According to the American Foundation for Urologic Disease, more than 50 percent of American males over the age of 50 have BPH.  Men with BPH have trouble urinating and can develop infections of the prostate.  Thousands of men seek medical attention for BPH each year and one out of four of them have surgery.  According to Michael Schacter, M.D., who wrote The Natural Way to a Healthy Prostate, 25 to 50 percent of the men who have prostate surgery experience complications such as impotence, urinary tract infections, and incontinence.

There are alternatives to the surgery, however.  Medications to shrink the prostate are available, but are not without side effects.  A natural alternative to medications is a phytonutrient, or plant extract, called saw palmetto.  Saw palmetto is a plant which grows near the coast in Georgia and Florida.  Its leaves are palm-like and its stems are saw-toothed, thus the name.  Unlike the pharmaceuticals used to treat prostate hypertrophy, saw palmetto has no known side-effects.  Saw palmetto has been shown to be as effective if not even more effective than prescription medications in shrinking the prostate.  The reason it is not more widely touted is twofold. The main reason is that there are not large numbers of controlled studies performed in the United States on the effectiveness of natural therapies.  The reason this is true is because pharmaceutical companies sponsor most clinical trials.  The reason they don’t spend much money on phytonutrients is because there is little profit in plant extracts.  Nature’s pharmacy cannot be patented, so we must study phytotherapy on our own.  In Europe, however, phytotherapy is widely used with great results.  It is recommended that men with BPH take 160 mg of saw palmetto twice a day in order to shrink the prostate with minimal or no side effects.

U.S. males have alarmingly higher rates of prostate cancer than men in other countries.  High levels of male hormones in the blood have been linked to prostate cancer in several studies.  The high intake of animal fat is a key influence on these hormone levels.  Japanese men reared in Japan eat a soy-based, low fat, high antioxidant diet and have less than half the incidence of prostate disease of Japanese men who live in the U.S.  Studies have shown that men who eat red meat daily are 250% more likely to suffer advanced prostate cancer than men who eat red meat only once per week.   In the year 2000, there were 125,000 prostatectomies (surgical removal of the prostate) performed in the United States, while only 3 were recorded in Denmark.  According to Otis Browley, M.D., head of the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Special Populations, removal of the prostate is not necessarily a good choice in treatment of prostate cancer because, “We haven’t even proven that prostatectomies save lives.”  In one large study, men who developed prostate cancer late in life and had their prostates removed had about the same morbidity rate as men who did not have the surgery. There is a wealth of information available about diet and the role it plays in creating prostate disease, but it has to be sought by sufferers.  Once again, there is not very much profit in nutritional advice.

Prostate trouble is no fun to talk about, so many men suffer in silence.  Often they wait until their symptoms are unbearable before they seek treatment, then they will accept anything that comes with the promise of relief.  If this is you, do something before you get to this point.  Talk to your health professionals about alternatives to pharmaceuticals and surgery.  Make informed decisions about your healthcare, and explore all of your options.  Treat your body well.