Have you been taking more trips to the bathroom lately, especially in the middle of the night? Do you then find yourself sitting on the toilet desperately trying to go, but unable to actually urinate? Do you then go back to bed feeling like you still need to relieve yourself?
These are all symptoms which indicate that you may have an enlarged prostate. Technically, your prostate has probably been growing throughout adulthood. On its own, this is normal and expected. But there are situations where the prostate’s enlargement can become a problem.
There is a lot of confusion between terms like “enlarged prostate,” “prostatitis,” and “BPH.” In this article, I will set out to un-riddle these terms for you so that you can have a better understanding of the health issues at hand. I will then share some ideas with you for natural remedies you can use to try and treat the issue safely at home.
What Is an Enlarged Prostate?
First of all, let’s start with the term “enlarged prostate.” This term should be taken quite literally. It simply describes a prostate which has become enlarged through a health condition like BPH or prostatitis, which are not the same thing.
Some people use the terms “enlarged prostate” and “BPH” interchangeably, but they are not identical. BPH is one possible cause of an enlarged prostate, but it is not the only one.
When your prostate becomes enlarged, it can lead to urinary issues because of the gland’s location. Since it is situated so close to the urethra and the bladder—and in fact passes around the urethra—if it gets too be too large it can exert pressure on both.
In this situation, your bladder no longer has to fill up for the sensation of pressure to become intolerable. This is what sends you running to the bathroom all the time.
Unfortunately, the pressure is not just uncomfortable—it also has an unhealthy effect on your bladder muscles. Over time, they can become weaker. This reduces your bladder’s efficiency.
That is why it becomes more difficult to urinate and why you may experience retention. You still feel like you have to urinate afterward because you still have urine in your bladder which failed to empty out.
What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?
There may be multiple possible causes for an enlarged prostate, but the two most common ones are prostatitis and BPH.
What is Prostatitis?
You may be able to guess what prostatitis is based on the –itis suffix. When you see this suffix, it refers to inflammation. Indeed, prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland.
Prostatitis itself can have multiple causes. It is often the result of an infection, but can also happen if there is an injury to your prostate. If the injury or infection is acute, once it is treated, the swelling caused by the inflammation should go down. In these cases, enlarged prostate is a temporary problem which will pass. If however you are dealing with chronic inflammation, the enlargement too can persist.
Inflammation of the prostate can occur at any age, but it is more common to see it among men over the age of 50.
What is BPH?
BPH is short for “benign prostatic hyperplasia.” When you have BPH, you have an enlarged prostate. What causes it? Doctors are not positive at this point. It may have something to do with hormones. Regardless, it is most common in men who are 50 or older.
Remember, your prostate grows throughout your life, and that is healthy and normal. But with BPH, it gets too large and it causes troublesome symptoms. Note that the “B” in BPH does stand for “benign.” BPH is not a cancerous condition, nor is there any indication that it will lead to the development of cancer.
Common Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
Note that the exact size of the prostate and the severity of your symptoms may not necessarily be correlated. Sometimes a slight over-enlargement can cause more severe symptoms in some men than a more sizable over-enlargement in others.
If you do have an enlarged prostate, you might experience:
- A more frequent urge to urinate than you are used to. You may especially notice this overnight.
- Difficulty beginning urination, even though you feel like you really have to go.
- A weaker stream of urine than usual. Sometimes it may have a “dribbling” quality, or there could be regular starts and stops before you are done.
- Ironically, at other times, you could have the opposite problem. You might experience urinary incontinence. That means you urinate when you don’t intend to (for example when sneezing).
- Urinating may be painful.
- After you finish urinating, you may still feel like you need to go. This is because your bladder has not fully emptied.
- In extreme cases, you may simply be unable to urinate.
- You may have problems sleeping. When you have to constantly get up to go to the bathroom, it can take longer to fall asleep at night, and your sleep might be frequently interrupted. Over time, this can lead to the development of sleep disorders. You might experience associated insomnia and anxiety, and will probably experience daytime fatigue as well.
If you are experiencing issues like these, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor. That way you can find out for sure whether you have an enlarged prostate, and you can work with your healthcare provider to come up with a suitable treatment plan.
Is There a Cure for Prostatitis or BPH?
In the case of prostatitis, it is possible that you can cure the condition if you are able to heal from the injury or treat the infection which is causing the inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for this purpose. You might also be given alpha-blockers. These relax your prostate muscles, which can help you urinate.
As for BPH, the treatment depends on the case. Surgery is considered a last resort for severe cases. Any time you can avoid taking a non-reversible action in the treatment of a health condition and still achieve results, it is generally a good idea.
For mild to moderate cases, doctors recommend an approach which is likewise moderate. Some men actually find that mild BPH symptoms pass on their own with time. If you want to treat BPH yourself with home remedies, you can do so (more on that below).
For cases which warrant medications, you might be prescribed alpha blockers, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs), or Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors).
It should be noted that 5-ARIs have some serious side effects. In fact, they can actually increase your chances of getting aggressive prostate cancer. That is certainly a case where the treatment may be more destructive than the disease. Enlarged prostate can be debilitating, but cancer is obviously a far cry worse.
Natural Prostatitis and BPH Treatment Options
Because medications for enlarged prostate can have serious side effects, you may want to try treating the condition yourself first (unless you have a severe and immediate need for medical attention, of course).
Here are some measures you can try:
- Reduce the amount of liquids you consume before bedtime. Try and drink liquids earlier in the day. Even though this will not lead to you having to urinate less overall, it may at least help you sleep through the night with fewer interruptions.
- Try drinking less alcohol.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine.
- Read the labels of OTC medications carefully. Certain antihistamines and decongestants can have an adverse effect on an enlarged prostate. Avoid these products.
- Try taking natural herbal supplements to treat your enlarged prostate. There are a lot of options here, as you will see momentarily.
Instituting most of these lifestyle changes is nearly effortless; you should be able to change your liquid, caffeine, and alcohol intake today if you want to do it. It might take you a little longer to switch some of your OTC medications and find alternatives, but once that is taken care of, you can focus on choosing the best supplements for enlarged prostate.
Enlarged Prostate Supplements Worth Trying Before Starting Any Prescription Medications
- Flower pollens. Various flower pollens may be used to treat an enlarged prostate owing to their anti-inflammatory properties. For example, one popular ingredient used in prostate supplements is Graminex flower pollen extract. This extract is actually a combination of rye, corn, and timothy pollen. There have been quite a few studies which show that pollen is an effective treatment for enlarged prostate, that it is well-tolerated, and that the risk of side effects is minimal.
- Saw palmetto: Another supplement for enlarged prostate which has received a great deal of research is saw palmetto extract. This extract comes from the fruit of the Serenoa repens palm tree. According to the linked meta-analysis, saw palmetto can improve urinary tract symptoms and improvements in flow which are comparable to those produced by the drug Finasteride, “and was associated with fewer adverse treatment events.”
- Stinging nettle: Stinging nettle extract comes from the Urtica dioica plant. According to this paper, “The clinical evidence of effectiveness for nettle root in the treatment of BPH is based on many open studies.” Additionally, the researchers put in that, “The risk for adverse effects during nettle root treatment is very low.”
- Pygeum africanum: Another plant extract which you can try for enlarged prostate is this one from the African cherry tree. This research reports that, “A standardized preparation of Pygeum africanum may be a useful treatment option for men with lower urinary symptoms consistent with benign prostatic hyperplasia.”
- Beta-sitosterol: This substance comes from a variety of different plants, and is sometimes referred to as “plant sterol ester.” This supplement has been shown in preliminary research to improve symptoms as well as quality of life in patients with BPH. It may also slightly improve the flow of urine.
- Cranberry: Sometimes if you have BPH, you might have a higher risk for recurring urinary tract infections (also a concern if you have prostatitis). This study shows that cranberry may be effective in preventing these types of recurring infections in men with BPH.
- Curcumin: Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric. It has been discovered that a specific formulation of curcumin called Meriva can be helpful in reducing BPH symptoms, and that there are no significant side effects.
- Green tea: As mentioned previously, some of the drugs which are prescribed for treating BPH can actually increase your risk for prostate cancer. If you choose to take these drugs, a supplement which contains green tea polyphenols may help to counteract that effect a bit, as described in this research paper.
You can take one or more of these supplements individually to try and curb the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, but as they are well-tolerated and should not produce significant side effects, it makes more sense to try taking a formula which contains a blend of BPH-fighting ingredients. Many of these blends also contain other vitamins and minerals such as zinc and vitamin D3 which support prostate and urinary health.
This may produce stronger, faster results, and it will probably end up saving you money and simplifying your life. It is a lot less expensive to just purchase one bottle of supplements to treat your prostate than half a dozen different things. It also is easier to take a single capsule each day.
Take note however that some supplements may interfere with certain medications. You should make sure that nothing you are taking now will negatively interact with the supplements you are thinking of adding to your daily healthcare regimen.
Remember, you will often get the best results with supplements if you take them diligently over a longer time period. So if you do not get instant results, just keep taking them daily as directed. You may find that within a few weeks, you are feeling significantly better.
Conclusion: With Supplements for Enlarged Prostate, You Can Naturally Treat the Symptoms of BPH
When you sit down with a doctor to talk about BPH and you are told, “We don’t recommend surgery, which means you can adopt a ‘watchful waiting’ approach or try taking these drugs,” that can be a discouraging moment—especially when you find out about the side effects of the drugs.
Thankfully, if you do opt for ‘watchful waiting,’ you do not need to be passive in your approach. You can decide to make some simple adjustments to your lifestyle, drinking less at night and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and certain drugs. You can also try supplements like flower pollens and saw palmetto to treat your symptoms naturally.
While there are cases where more aggressive treatments may be required, in many mild to moderate cases, you may be surprised at the improvements possible through these conservative measures.