An Overview of Medical Conditions Affecting The Prostate
Nicholas Corrin, L.Ac., MSOM, AV, Dipl.CH.
Three types of common disorders can affect the prostate gland:
1. Prostatitis: infection or inflammation of the prostate.
2. BPH: benign prostatic hypertrophy, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia; the swollen gland is enlarged and compresses the bladder wall.
3. Prostate cancer.
Prostatitis can actually present in four different forms:
• Acute bacterial
• Chronic bacterial
• Chronic Inflammatory
Acute bacterial prostatitis is rare, but simple to treat. It appears suddenly and is typically accompanied by fever, painful urination and elevated white blood cell count in urinalysis.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis can cause a multitude of symptoms, depending on which microorganisms are involved. Often infections involve multiple bacteria. It manifests more gradually and the main symptoms involve recurrent urinary tract infections.
Chronic inflammatory prostatitis is the most common form of prostatitis and can also be referred to as chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Pain and discomfort in the bladder and groin area are the most common symptoms. These pains can appear and disappear in fluctuating patterns. Diagnosis can be difficult. Doctors cannot rely on lab testing alone to determine what going on as lab tests are often inconclusive; inflammatory cytokines may or may not show up in your blood. Antibodies and other white blood cells may or may not be visible in semen, urine or prostatic secretions. The mechanisms of nano-bacterial infections are not well understood at this point.
In asymptomatic prostatitis, the man has no symptoms of discomfort, yet white blood cells are detectable in the semen. This type of condition may be communicable to females during intercourse and induce bacterial vaginosis.
The presence of white blood cells in semen may also be a warning sign of early prostate cancer or may correlate with male infertility problems. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) may be elevated too.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
BPH is a very common condition that affects a very high percentage of males today. Benign indicates “non-cancerous” although it is also possible that BPH might later develop into prostate cancer. The same applies to prostatitis.
In BPH, the enlarged prostate tissue will press both against the urethra and against the bladder wall. This will eventually cause constriction of the urethra as well as irritation and thickening of the bladder wall. The bladder reflex to urinate will be chronically triggered, and many sorts of urinary problems and sexual problems may ensue, including but not limited to: frequent urge to urinate, incomplete evacuation of urine, weak flow and/or dribbling, inability to urinate, loss of libido, and impaired sexual performance.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting males and it has come to be assumed that virtually all men will at some point in their lives develop this disease. For example, a recent study discovered that in 60% of men autopsied at age 60, prostate cancer was present. At autopsy, prostate cancer is typically found to be present in 40% of men aged between 40-49, and 70% of men aged 60-69. (1)
Prostatitis and BPH can be caused by many diverse factors including bacterial and viral infections, fungi, candida, food allergies, excess uric acid/metabolic wastes, chemical toxins, physical trauma to the perineum, neuromuscular tension, poor toilet posture, chronic constipation and auto-immune problems.
2) The causes of prostate cancer are similar to other cancers: toxins, infections, autonomic system disorders, lowered immunity, acid pH, metabolic wastes in blood plasma, parasites and viruses. Recent studies have found distinct correlations between XMRV, a newly discovered virus which is sexually transmissible, and prostate cancer. (2)
A very major aspect of prostate cancer involves hormonal imbalances, specifically testosterone, estrogen and their metabolites. Testosterone converts to dihydrostestosterone (DHT), and this particular form of testosterone can be carcinogenic. This is increasingly a challenge as men’s body’s age and prostate cancer becomes more of a threat. Excess estrogen in the body from estrogenic chemical toxins in the environment is also a big factor.
Signs and Symptoms
Prostatitis: Symptoms include bladder or pelvic pain, burning, frequency, and blood in the urine. Chronic bacterial and inflammatory prostatitis can also affect the nerves leading to dizziness, insomnia and weakness. It can also cause erectile dysfunction, wet scrotum, testicular pain, groin and thigh pain, and problems with sperm health.
BPH: need to urinate several times at night, weak urine flow, broken urine flow, urgent need to urinate without the sense of complete relief.
Prostate cancer: usually symptoms of cancer will show up as symptoms of prostatitis or BPH, however this may not occur. Sometimes, high PSA test scores are used by doctors as the clear indicator of cancer being present. However, there is some debate and controversy as to the correlation of elevated PSA with cancer.
At home tests
Men should check their testes monthly for normal size and smooth feel. If there are any irregularities, or any symptoms listed above, you should seek care immediately by a health professional.
There are no specific alternative lab tests to determine prostate issues. However, skilled alternative doctors diagnose holistically and will observe the skin, pulse and energy of a patient. These indicators, besides presenting symptoms, will help the practitioner to determine what kind of problem the prostate might have. If the situation is unclear, the patient will be referred for allopathic testing.
Allopathic tests for Prostate Problems
1) Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) determines whether prostate is swollen or sclerotic (hardened).
2) Ultrasound can show abnormal size, echoes, enlarged seminal vessels etc.
3) Urinalysis is not very effective for prostatitis, but pathogen culture of prostate fluid and semen might be useful.
4) Blood tests for antibodies such as ELISA testing.
5) PSA tests. PSA levels can be elevated in either prostate cancer or asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis: elevated PSA does not by itself necessarily indicate prostate cancer.
1) BPH and Prostatitis. Effective herbal treatments exist in different herbal traditions. Ayurvedic medicine has a combination of herbs which, together, reduce the size of the enlarged prostate, soothe inflammation, enhance the immune system and assist the body to rid itself of calcified wastes from the prostate and surrounding tissues. These herbs are: Shatavari, Boeharvia, Orchid Tree, Tribulus, Three Leaf Caper, Holy Basil, Guggul, and Sensitive Plant. Peruvian herbal medicine uses Achiote in combination with Maca Root and Cat’s Claw. Lucraco root is also very useful. These herbs are generally more effective than Saw Palmetto. High quality sourcing of herbs is essential, and just purchasing from companies online can be a big waste of money. Also, excessive intake of Saw Palmetto can sometimes suppress 3b-Adiol, which is an essential anti-carcinogenic metabolite. So don’t overdose on Saw Palmetto (over 500mg daily) as this can be as injurious as taking Proscar. (3)
Energetic and thermal treatments can be very effective. A rectal thermal device will gently increase the activation of immune cells in the region of the prostate. According to Chinese medical theory, the DU channel (which organizes the immune system) will be stimulated, and this will offer additional benefits throughout the body. Japanes Onnetsu therapy has a similar approachand applies intense infra-red heat to the areas around the prostate. Onnestus has also often been successfully applied in cases of prostate cancer. (4)
2) Prostate cancer is also very treatable with natural medicine. Leading integrative physicians generally agree that prostate cancer is rather easy to reverse in the earlier stages, if lifestyle changes are made. Dr. Garry Gordon maintains that 90% of cases do not require surgery or radiation. Dr. Aaron Katz, Director of Holistic Urology at Columbia Medical Center in New York, estimates that 80% will recover without the need for surgery or radiation.
The principals of nutritional treatment and care are basically similar whether in prostatitis, BPH or cancer: support the immune system, destroy pathogens, detox chemicals, reduce inflammation, increase circulation of blood and lymph, and improve lifestyle behaviors.
The key components of these approaches for prostate cancer include a fresh, organic diet and high use of green tea, pomegranate juice, Vitamin D (5,000IU per day), high use of whole food Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, lycopene, beta-sitosterol, zinc, anti-inflammatory enzymes, and immune modulators such as colostrum, medicinal mushrooms and astragalus.
Natural Ayurvedic herbal treatments are extremely effective for BPH and prostatitis. Other herbal approaches such as Peruvian and Chinese are also very effective as are thermal rectal therapies. Allopathic treatments for prostatitis rely on finding exactly the right anti-biotics to address the particular micro-organisms involved, and if this is not done accurately, there is a great danger of making things worse by weakening the immune system. Conversely, natural, herbal approaches gently support the body and will not give rise to immune backlashes. Overall health will also be improved by holistic treatment.
For early stage prostate cancers, the vast majority will resolve without surgery or radiation if the holistic protocols recommended by experts, such as Drs. Gordon and Kalz, are followed.
1) Prostatitis, if untreated, can induce chronic inflammation which damages the lining of adjacent organs. Micro-organisms and bacteria can secrete toxins and weaken the immune system overall.
2) BPH can involve serious weakening of the bladder and urethra. It can generate chronic inflammation and cause damage to proximal organs and tissues, most importantly the kidneys. Incontinence due to structural damage may result. BPH can also create a more productive area for infections and blood stagnation, leading to local lymphatic blockage, bladder and kidney stones.
3) Early stage prostate cancer has a very good prognosis if treated with natural medicines. However, common drugs such as Proscar and Propecia, whilst suppressing DHT and therefore incidence of prostate cancer, actually increase the risks of a very aggressive form of prostate cancer. In brief, the recent research correlates common chemotherapeutic drug for prostate cancer with higher risks of mortality. Alpha blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors are also commonly prescribed for BPH. The new evidence demonstrating that suppression of DHT will actually increase the likelihood of aggressive cancers of the prostate is very important to be aware of and discuss with your MD if your are considering taking these types of drugs.
Avoidance (or chelation) of toxins, healthy diet, good exercise protocols and healthy sexual behaviors are all essential preventive care for the prostate. Sedentary lifestyles combined with pollution and chronic infection will generally produce illness or pathology in the long run, and prostate problems have become endemic as a result of unhealthy lifestyles. Mind body practices such as yoga and Qi Gong, which integrate the brain and the body, and which increase healthy circulation through the abdomen and perineum can also be invaluable assets in preventing prostate sickness. Men who exercise regularly, especially with yoga or tai qi, can expect to preserve both prostate and sexual health. A patient advocate’s view on the importance of exercise – and weight loss- in preventing prostate cancer is given by Chris Boor in his book, Prostate Secrets Report. (5) Consuming walnuts and tomatoes has proved beneficial to protecting the prostate. Also, in India, where prostate cancer is rare and consumption of spices high, there is a clear protective effect of culinary spices against the inflammation and infections involved in prostate disease.
Overcoming Cancer and Other Diseases in a Holistic Way, Tomeko Matsui and Kazuko Hillyer, Phd., Kokoro Publ., NY, 2009.
Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, Mark Scholz, MD and Ralph Blum, Other Press, New York, NY, 2010.
Dr. Katz’s Guide to Prostate Health: From Conventional to Holistic Therapies, Aaron E. Katz, MD, Freedom Press, Topanga, CA, 2006
(1) Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 10.1093/jnci/djq313
(2) XMRV Infection in Patients With Prostate Cancer: Novel Serologic Assay and Correlation With PCR and FISH. Urology, 2010; 75 (4): 755 DOI
(3) Nutrition and Healing Newsletter, Vol. 17, Issue 12, February 2011, page 5.
(4) Your Immune Revolution, Toru Abo, MD, Kokoro Publishing, NY, 2007
(5) www.prostatesecretsreport.com, page 37
The information provided here is to inform readers, and to educate them regarding alternative medicine options for the medical conditions described above. In no way is this information to be mis-construed as medical diagnosis or as medical advice. No reader should self-diagnose or self-treat on the basis of the above information, and any person reading the above information is strongly advised to consult with a competent medical practitioner before making any decisions regarding their health care program.