This is a subject very, very close to my heart. I am privileged to have extremely knowledgeable nutrition expert Evita Ochel, author of the book Healing & Prevention Through Nutrition, share her views on prostate cancer and nutrition. Take it away, Evita!
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men today. A 2015 report by the American Cancer Society shares that over one quarter of all new cases of cancer in men are prostate cancer, and it is the second leading cause of cancer-death in men.
Although there still exist many uncertainties when it comes to prostate cancer, we know that like all cancers, this is a multifactorial disease. This means that typically several factors influence its incidence over the course of a lifetime. These include the type and quality of diet, tobacco, alcohol, or other drug use, toxic exposure, sleep, exercise, mental/emotional stress, and other lifestyle factors. Therefore when it comes to this disease, like most others, our daily choices have a big impact on whether we increase or decrease the risk factors.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, more than 65% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. Therefore throughout his lifetime, a man can focus on protective and preventative lifestyle habits by optimizing the areas mentioned above. In his later years, but especially if prostate health is ever an issue, it is additionally helpful to integrate natural remedies like various herbs that have been found to be beneficial for prostate health. There are three valuable herbs that each man should know about to enhance their prostate health: Saw Palmetto, Pygeum, and Stinging Nettle:
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a palm-like plant with berries that has been widely used by the American Natives for natural healing and prevention for centuries. In modern times, the berries have been used to treat urinary tract problems, increase sperm production, and boost libido. Saw palmetto is also recognized in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
Saw Palmetto is an herb that acts to tone and strengthen the male reproductive system. It is a diuretic, urinary antiseptic, tonic, and endocrine agent with anti-inflammatory properties. The fat soluble extract of saw palmetto provides sterols and fatty acids, which help reduce the amount of dihydotestosterone in the prostate.
Saw palmetto is generally thought to be safe when used as directed and side effects are very rare. Saw palmetto comes in various supplement forms, including capsules, liquid tinctures, teas, and pure powdered forms that are easy to incorporate into smoothies.
Pygeum is an African prune (plum) tree found in tropical Africa. It has anti-inflammatory properties and extract from the bark of Pygeum africanum has been used in Europe for the prevention and treatment of prostate disorders, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is also helpful for urinary and bladder health, improving urinary flow, as well as for sexual health.
Preparations of pygeum and saw palmetto together have been marketed for prostate health including prostate cancer prevention and treatment. Studies testing pygeum for prostate health have found it to inhibit the growth of various cancer cells, induce their death, and reduce the risk of the disease.
Pygeum supplements can be found in liquid or capsule formats, as well as in pure powdered forms. They are commonly found in formulas with other vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, or herbs. Like with most natural remedies, side effects are rare, but it is always prudent to stay mindful of any health changes when incorporating a new herb.
3. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a plant that is common to most parts of the world and has for centuries been known to have numerous healing and protective medical uses. One of these includes helping with prostate health and urinary problems. It is an astringent, diuretic, and tonic, with anti-spasmodic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also full of beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Although both the leaves and the roots are valuable, it is the root of the nettle that is becoming common today for the treatment of BPH. Research has found that stinging nettle on its own, but especially in tandem with saw palmetto is effective at relieving symptoms such as reduced urinary flow, incomplete emptying of the bladder, post urination dripping, and the constant urge to urinate, all of which are normally accompanied with an enlarged prostate.
Stinging nettle is widely available in many forms, including powders, teas, tinctures, and capsules. It is also easy to grow fresh stinging nettle oneself or harvest it wildly. It is generally well tolerated, without any unpleasant side effects, but it is always a good idea to consult your natural health care practitioner to know how to get the most out of this or any of the herbs discussed in this article.
Evita Ochel, B.Sc., B.Ed., CHN, CYT – is a natural health educator, holistic nutritionist, speaker, and author of the book “Healing and Prevention Through Nutrition”, as well as hundreds of articles on mind-body-spirit topics. She is the founder of the Healthytarian lifestyle and passionate about empowering each individual on the journey into optimal wellness. To learn more about her work, visit EvitaOchel.com