An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), can cause a number of irritating symptoms - typically urinary problems such as a weak urinary stream and waking up during the night to urinate.
BPH is not a serious health threat and is not linked to cancer, but it may affect your quality of life. If the symptoms worsen, it may be time to visit your doctor to discuss treatment options such as medications or minimally invasive procedures like prostate artery embolization (PAE) to reduce the prostate´s size.
However, some people may want to try natural remedies for BPH. If you are interested in taking this approach, it´s a good idea to consult your doctor first.
One thing they will discuss with you is making some lifestyle changes that can ease urinary symptoms, regardless of whether you choose treatment or not. Among the changes you can make are:
- Reduce the amount of fluids you drink in the evening.
- Urinate as soon as you get the urge.
- When you visit the bathroom, take your time to empty your bladder completely. This should reduce the need to make many subsequent toilet trips.
- Avoid drinking lots of fluids before going out in public or on a trip.
- Eat more fruit and fiber. This will help avoid constipation, which puts pressure on the bladder and worsens symptoms.
- Try yoga and meditation. These activities can relieve stress which may reduce the need to urinate.
- Some over the counter and prescription medications can interfere with urination. For example, diuretics used for high blood pressure can increase urinary frequency. Therefore, review all your medications with your doctor to see if dosages can be adjusted or changes can be made when you take medications. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe different pills that cause fewer urinary issues.
- Keep the prostate gland healthy by eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, beans and fish with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Strengthen pelvic floor muscles with kegel exercises.
- Avoid or limit your intake of food and drink that can make symptoms worse. These include starchy, refined foods, red meat, alcohol and carbonated drinks.
Another beneficial lifestyle change is to exercise regularly. Staying active lowers your risk for obesity (a risk factor for BPH) and helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body, including the prostate.
Try to exercise for 30 minutes to one hour at least three times a week. The exercise doesn’t have to be particularly strenuous. It can include activities such as walking, swimming and tennis.
Before we take a look at a few natural remedies, keep in mind they´re not all-inclusive cures. And while some studies support their claims, there is not a great deal of peer-review research in the scientific literature. Before starting any natural remedies, consult a healthcare professional.
If you have been diagnosed with BPH, the following natural remedies may help
Lycopene - this is a pigment found in lots of fruit and vegetables. A pilot study found that daily consumption of lycopene-enriched extra virgin oil improved the health of the prostate. Other sources of lycopene include red cabbage, carrots, papaya, watermelon, guava and pink grapefruit.
Green tea - has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any tea. Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent and slow down cell and tissue damage. Some research has shown that green tea can slow the growth of benign prostate cells. However, note that green tea also contains caffeine which makes BPH urinary symptoms worse.
Nettles - nettles contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that can bring about a reduction in BPH symptoms. A 2019 review concluded that nettle root extracts can reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with BPH.
Zinc - according to studies, a chronic zinc deficiency may increase the likelihood of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Therefore, increasing the dietary intake of zinc or taking zinc supplements may lower the risk of zinc deficiency. This, in turn, may lead to an improvement in BPH symptoms.
Cranberries - cranberry is a red fruit rich in phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory properties. These are known to be good for bladder health. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that men given a cranberry supplement for six months showed improvements in their BPH symptoms. These included:
- Improved rate of urinary flow
- Less need to go to the toilet at night
- Reduced urgency to urinate
Pumpkin seeds - these are an excellent source of omega-3, B vitamins, iron and other nutrients. They are also rich in zinc which can help to ease symptoms of an enlarged prostate. In a study published in 2019, 60 men with BPH symptoms took pumpkin seed extract once daily before going to bed for three months.
After 12 weeks, the study participants reported a 30% reduction in their symptoms. They also said they were enjoying a better quality of life due to an overall decrease in symptoms.
Pumpkin seed extract is more concentrated than a handful of seeds, but you can still enjoy health benefits by consuming them more often. You can even add them to foods such as stews and salads.
Treating Enlarged Prostates
If your enlarged prostate symptoms are affecting your quality of life, it may be time to consider treatment such as prostate artery embolization. At the Midwest Institute for Non-surgical Therapy (MINT), we specialize in performing PAE on an outpatient basis.
Please get in touch with us today for more information and to schedule a free consultation at one of our 5 offices which now includes Chicago, IL.