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Herbs for Enlarged Prostate

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Updated September 24, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is Enlarged Prostate?

A male reproductive gland surrounding the urethra, the prostate is responsible for producing semen. Enlargement of the prostate gland (often referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) occurs in many men as they get older.

Although it can lead to some complications involving the bladder, an enlarged prostate won't increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate

When tissues in the prostate enlarge, they may apply pressure to the urethra and partially block urine flow. This may trigger the following symptoms:

  • difficulty starting urination
  • weak urine stream
  • inability to urinate
  • dribbling at the end of urination
  • incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • incontinence
  • frequent urination at nighttime
  • pain with urination
  • Less than half of men with BPH show symptoms.

    Treatment for an Enlarged Prostate

    Some men experience BPH-related complications such as bladder stones, bladder damage, urinary tract infections, and kidney damage. In these cases, doctors may pursue treatment with medication, surgery, and non-surgical therapies.

    In other cases, however, self-care should suffice in treatment of BPH.

    Home Remedies for Enlarged Prostate

    Your doctor may suggest using the following self-care strategies to manage your BPH symptoms:

  • urinating as soon as you get the urge
  • avoiding alcohol and caffeine, especially at night
  • avoiding drinking fluids within two hours of bedtime
  • getting regular exercise
  • decreasing your stress with the help of practices like yoga and meditation
  • You may also need to limit your use of over-the-counter cold and sinus medications containing decongestants or antihistamines, both of which may aggravate your symptoms. Certain natural remedies for cold and sinus problems may help reduce your need for such medications.

    Herbs for Prostate Health

    The following herbs may help ease BPH symptoms:

    1) Saw Palmetto

    In a report published in 2000, researchers reviewed 11 clinical trials and concluded that treatment with saw palmetto extract can help improve peak urinary flow rate and reduce patients' need to awake at night in order to urinate. However, a research review from 2009 deemed saw palmetto no more effective than placebo for treatment of BPH-related urinary symptoms.

    2) Pygeum

    Pygeum (a remedy sourced from the bark of the African plum tree) may be a useful treatment option for men with lower urinary symptoms resulting from BPH, according to a 2002 analysis of 18 clinical trials. However, the investigators caution that the reviewed studies were small in size, were of short duration, and used varied doses and preparations of pygeum.

    Sources:

    Boyle P, Robertson C, Lowe F, Roehrborn C. "Meta-analysis of clinical trials of permixon in the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia." Urology 2000 55(4):533-9.

    Tacklind J, MacDonald R, Rutks I, Wilt TJ. "Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 15;(2):CD001423.

    Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R, Rutks I, Stark G. "Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD001044.

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