Prostate problems

I had a query recently from a man with ‘prostate trouble’. His mind had immediately jumped to the worst case scenario, and he had been trawling the web for treatments. Of course, there were plenty to be found, and all sorts of wonderful claims being made about them. So what do we actually know?
In the first place, prostate cancer is not that common. But the prostate gland keeps growing throughout life, and by middle age it may well be obstructing the urethra, leading to difficulty urinating. There are various tonic herbs that have a long history of use here, including saw palmetto and sarsaparilla, and they combine well with herbs that also help sexual function, such as damiana and ginseng. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed, but usually it is down to management. The condition is called ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia’.
However, my patient was complaining not just of slow or frequent urination, but of burning pain. That means that there is inflammation present. It may be due to infection, and in fact he had been prescribed antibiotics, but most cases of prostatic inflammation – or prostatitis – do not involve infection, and so they had not had much effect.
Prostatitis is more likely in younger men, and anti-inflammatories are the answer; herbs like calendula, celery seed and liquorice, combined with circulatory help from yarrow or rosemary. Supplementing with zinc can help, though it’s better to get it from food like pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The tonics can be useful here too. Usually the cause remains a mystery, and sometimes it will clear on its own, but it’s always worth dealing with promptly.