Maintaining a Healthy Prostate
Prostate health has become an important issue among men who are over the age of 40. A healthy prostate can be aided by several natural nutrients and herbs, including the use of Saw Palmetto berries. Extracts from these berries have been reported in several herbal texts to have considerable power in normalizing the function of the prostate gland.
Extracts of Saw Palmetto berries (Serenoa repens), contain a variety of fatty acids and phytosterols. Phytosterols are plant sterols that have been shown to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that may play a role in the enlargement of the prostate. Saw Palmetto extracts contain bio-active sterols such as Beta-sitosterol that are reported to be a nutritional aid to men with benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH.
In a double-blind clinical study with 200 patients, plant derived extracts of beta-sistosterol or a placebo was administered three times daily for six months. The results of the above clinical trial were encouraging and indicate that beta-sitosterol was helpful in normalizing urine flow and residual urinary volume.
Pygeum (Pygeum africanum) is a large evergreen tree that grows in the southern parts of Africa. The tree bark was traditionally used as a tea for genito-urinary complaints. Recent research with extracts of this plant indicates that it is helpful in reducing the inflammation and swelling associated with minor prostate irritation. Pygeum contains phytosterols such as beta-sitosterol, which inhibits the production of inflammatory prostagladins. Pygeum extracts also contain compounds that help in removing excess cholesterol deposits that may play a role in maintaining a healthy prostate. BPH and other cases of prostate enlargement are characterized by high levels of cholesterol
Zinc and its bio-available forms, such as zinc gluconate, have been shown to reduce the symptoms of BPH in men. A small study with 19 patients demonstrated a 73% improvement in those individuals taking a zinc supplement when measured by rectal exam, X-ray and endoscopy. Other published scientific data has shown the importance of zinc supplementation in improving libido and in increasing testosterone levels.
Lycopenes are natural carotenoids that are responsible for the red color in tomatoes. Lycopenes are reported to be the most abundant carotenoid in the prostate gland. A Harvard research study suggests that lycopenes may play an important role in the health of the prostate. Like other anti-oxidants, lycopenes can help prevent cellular damage and abnormal cellular growth.
Other herbs that help in maintaining a healthy prostate include Tumeric extracts, which contain substances that increase the secretion of bile and help prevent cholesterol from building up in the tissues. Uva Ursi has been used for generations as a natural diuretic, and as an aid in urinary tract infections. Juniper Berries and False Unicorn were considered excellent diuretics and emetics by the Native American Indians.
As the male population ages, it will become more important for men to decrease their fat intake and to supplement their diets with those nutrients and herbs known to help in maintaining a healthy prostate.
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