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Prostate

General characteristics

General characteristics

The prostate is a chestnut shaped gland sitting just below the male bladder in front of the rectum and surrounds the urethra (the tube that urine flows through when peeing) and the ejaculatory duct (the tube that semen passes through during ejaculation).

Its functions are to produce prostatic fluid which consists of several enzymes and other substances to help liquefy and protect the health of the sperm on ejaculation. The fluid makes up about a third of the seminal fluid and is known to contain zinc, calcium, citrate, PSA (prostatic specific antigen which helps keep semen in liquid form), sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride - the exact composition varies from person to person depending on their overall health and the health of the prostate gland itself. The muscular component of the prostate acts as a valve by squeezing the urethra shut to block urine from mingling with semen during sexual arousal and activity and also acts as a filter against various toxins that might otherwise enter the seminal fluids and damage the sperm. It is a muscular gland that helps with achieving and maintaining an erection, with the pumping action during ejaculation that propels the semen along the urethra and is responsible for the manufacture and secretion of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone responsible for maintaining a healthy sex drive, a sense of vigour and good reproductive function amongst other things.

The prostate is under the influence of various hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen. The prostate gland does seem to enlarge somewhat as a man ages (usually after 50 years), as testosterone levels decline naturally but in many cases this does not cause problems or symptoms. Around a third of men with prostatic enlargement will suffer symptoms. When the prostate does become enlarged (in response to infection for example) the urethra can become partially or completely closed, leading to problems with urination and bladder emptying.

Problems with the prostate include benign (non cancerous) enlargement, infection and irritation such as in prostatitis and cancer, all of which may produce similar symptoms such as painful or burning sensations with urination, blood in the urine, problems urinating, increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence or dribbling, problems achieving or maintaining an erection, painful ejaculation and discomfort or stiffness in the lower back, hip or groin area. If infection or retained urine is allowed to continue untreated, it can cause the infection to travel further up the urethra into the kidneys and lead to kidney infection.

Many factors can have a detrimental effect on the health of the prostate including poor diet and sedentary life style, frequently sitting for long periods, frequent sexual arousal that does not result in ejaculation

Healing objectives are to be aware of the signs of prostate problems and to visit a doctor for an accurate diagnosis should symptoms arise, maintain a good diet and healthy, active lifestyle and avoid aggravating factors.


Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Eat a diet rich in whole fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts and plenty of culinary herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger and turmeric.

Be careful to avoid eating excess refined carbohydrates and simple sugars as the regular consumption of these 'junk' foods are linked to much higher chances of developing many cancers, including prostate cancer.

Avoid pesticides for their unbalancing effect on the hormonal system, eat organic foods wherever possible.

Zinc is crucial for male reproductive health and is needed for the maintenance of normal, healthy male hormones and also the prostate gland. Is is common to be deficient in the mineral so be sure to include dietary sources regularly such as mushrooms, shellfish (oysters in particular), pumpkin and sunflower seeds, brewers yeast, garlic and spinach.

Selenium is another important mineral to male reproductive health, the testes hold reserves of it and it is considered important in healthy sperm production. Sources are few but include whole grains, the germ and bran of the grain, broccoli, onions and tomatoes.

Eat vegetables that belong to the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and the like regularly as they may help keep the prostate in good health.

Fresh juices of celery, carrot, beetroot and apple will help to cleanse impurities and residues from the system.

Essential fatty acids such as in oily fish and flaxseeds reduce the likelihood of developing prostate cancer and are also anti-inflammatory, potentially helping with prostatic enlargement.

Avoid nitrates and nitrites present in processed meats such as salamis, hotdogs, sausages etc.

Pomegranate fruit helps to protect the prostate gland. Taking a glass of juice daily has shown to reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer progressing or returning after remission. It is also loaded with antioxidants and helps protect the heart.

If you smoke, stop.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Nettle root, saw palmetto, damiana and turmeric combined seems to be an excellent combination for prostatic enlargement and prostate cancer. Use equal parts of dried nettle root, damiana and saw palmetto berries (1/2 -1 teaspoon of mixed herbs per cup for example) with a pinch of turmeric. Take 2 -3 cups daily.

The African herb Pygeum africanum (also called Prunus africanum) also shows good promise for prostatic enlargement and the accompanying symptoms such as increased urination.

Crampbark can help to relieve muscular tension and spasm.

Reishi mushroom (and all edible and medicinal mushrooms) show great promise in slowing the progression of prostate cancer and even in preventing it (CAM, January 2008, p.18). Take 2-3 capsules of the powder daily as an active remedy when disease is present or 1 capsule daily as a preventative/tonic.

Astragalus root is a useful tonic to the kidneys and entire urinary system including the prostate gland.

In prostate enlargement due to infection use the urinary antiseptics such as buchu, yarrow, bearberry/uva ursi, cornsilk, couch grass, gravel root, hydrangea root and juniper, adding nettle leaf and root if possible to directly assist the prostate gland itself. Choose 5 or so of the herbs (except juniper) and combine in equal parts to make a formula. Use a teaspoon of the mix as a tea, 3 times daily. Add 2 or 3 juniper berries to each cup for their powerful disinfecting action. See also cystitis for more ideas.

Plantain leaf tea can help disperse hardness and swelling.

Celery seeds make a useful addition to formulas for the health and functioning of the prostate.

Dandelion root and leaves can also help to treat an enlarged prostste gland.

Agnus castus can also help in disorders of the prostate such as enlargement and cancer.

Mullein root has proved helpful in cases of benign enlargement.

Rosebay willow herb is also reputed to be of use in prostate enlargement.

Cleavers tea may also help with benign enlargement, alone or with other herbs in combination.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Kegel or 'pelvic floor exercises' will strengthen and tone the muscles of the entire genitourinary system if practised regularly and may help maintain the health of the prostate gland. They can help to rectify problems involving urination such as difficulty in going, incomplete bladder emptying or incontinence.

Taking a few pollen grains daily can help to gently raise testosterone levels and reduce the likelihood of the prostate enlarging due to increased age and low testosterone levels. It can also increase sexual vitality and energy levels.

Try not to allow sexual frustration to build. Make love or masturbate regularly to relax and keep the entire genito-reproductive area in good health.


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