Follow by Email

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 24th WHMonth: MEN'S HEALTH ISSUES - THE PROSTATE: Saw Palmetto

TO CELEBRATE WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH (WHM), during the month of March ~ in addition to my weekly postings ~ I will be making DAILY postings of time tested herbal and medicinal foods used from a Medicine Woman's bag, which holds many, many herbs, generating many, many formulas, as one herb used for a cold (mullein), when combined with totally different herbs, can be used as an antispasmodic for inflammation or as an expectorant to relieve asthma or general lung congestion.

Sex Symbols I : Stock PhotoThis last week of March I will dedicate to OUR MEN.  Women's History Month would not be complete without addressing some health and healing issues for our men. During the 4+ years that I've been writing my weekly column on herbs and healing alternatives, most of my articles have been for men and women alike, but most specific articles are usually directed towards women's issues.  Yes, we have more health concerns then men, but this last week will focus on male issues - though ironically, out of the top ten causes of male deaths, only one is male organ specific: prostate cancer.  The other nine are suffered by women as well, but happen less frequently to women than men. 

The biggest problem that men have are diseases that are the result of lack of health care monitoring earlier in life. Take for example, the progression of heart disease: "If you don't get your cholesterol checked when it's going high when you're 20, and if don't get your blood pressure checked when it's going high when you're 30, maybe your blood sugar's getting a little high when you're 40, what do you think is going to happen when you're 50?"

We will begin to look at herbs for the top five killers of men: cardiac herbs (for hypertension and stroke), urinary tonics for the prostate, pulmonary herbs for the lungs and herbs for cancer, and depression.

THE PROSTATE - The prostate is a male gland located just below the bladder, in front of the rectum. It surrounds the first inch of the urethra (the tube through which urine and sperm exit the body). The prostate gland can become inflamed (prostatitis), enlarged (causing a sensation of fullness in the rectum) or infected, causing backache, impairment of sexual potency, frequent and/or burning/discomfort/pain upon urination, recurring flare-ups and sometimes a slight discharge or blood in the urine.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. It is the second leading type of cancer death in men, after lung cancer. There is not enough known about what causes prostate cancer and how to prevent it. Yet the disease is treatable if found in early stages.

This can be a challenge, since prostate cancer can show no symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body. STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME – GET AN ANNUAL CHECK UP (+PROSTATE SCREENING).

Herbs to treat a variety of these symptoms: Ginseng, fenugreek, parsley, oats, pumpkin seeds, kelp, melilot, bee pollen, buchu leaves, juniper berries, echinacea, golden seal, chaparral, sarsaparilla, wild yam root, yellow dock, yarrow, mullein, horsetail.

If you begin to feel any of the above symptoms here are a few of my herbal tea suggestions:

Urinary tract infection: Black walnut bark-1/4pt, buchu leaves-1pt, chaparral-1/2pt, echinacea-1/4pt, hawthorn berries-1/4pt, wild yam root-1/4pt, marshmallow-1/2pt. Men younger than 50 who have a bladder infection should see a doctor to determine the cause (since it is so rare). Men over 50 with recurring bladder infections most likely need to address their prostate health while also dealing with the acute infection.

Prostate cancer: buchu leaves-1pt, juniper berries-1/4pt, echinacea-1/2pt, golden seal-1/4pt, chaparral-1pt, kelp-1/2pt, sarsaparilla-1pt, wild yam root-1/4pt, yellow dock-1pt, yarrow-1/2pt, black walnut bark-1/2pt. Painful urination: buchu leaves-1pt, juniper berries-1/2pt, marshmallow-1pt, parsley-1/2pt, yarrow-1/2pt.

CAUTION – do not take juniper berries if you have any type of kidney disease or infection.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens/Sabal Serrulata) is a palm like plant with berries that were a staple food and medicine for the Native Americans of the southeastern United States.   In the early 1900s men used the berries to treat urinary tract problems and even to increase sperm production and boost libido.

Saw palmetto extract is the most popular herbal treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia, a common condition in older men. Early research indicated that the extract is well-tolerated and suggested "mild to moderate improvement in urinary symptoms and flow measures." Researches aren't sure exactly how saw palmetto works, but it contains plant-based chemicals that may be effective for BPH.  Researchers think that saw palmetto may affect the level of testosterone in the body, and perhaps reduce the amount of an enzyme that promotes the growth of prostate cells.  Saw palmetto is often combined with nettles extract to treat BPH.

The dried berries
Saw palmetto is used in several forms of traditional herbal medicine. American Indians used the fruit for food and to treat a variety of urinary and reproductive system problems. The Mayans drank it as a tonic, and the Seminoles used the berries as an expectorant and antiseptic.

Crude saw palmetto extract was used by European/American medical practitioners for at least 200 years for various conditions, including asthenia (weakness), recovery from major illness, and urogenital problems. 
King's American Dispensatory (1898) says of the extract:
It is also an expectorant, and controls irritation of mucous tissues. It has proved useful in irritative cough, chronic bronchial coughs, whooping-cough, laryngitis, acute and chronic, acute catarrh, asthma, tubercular laryngitis, and in the cough of phthisis pulmonalis. Upon the digestive organs it acts kindly, improving the appetite, digestion, and assimilation. However, its most pronounced effects appear to be those exerted upon the urino-genital tracts of both male and female, and upon all the organs concerned in reproduction. It is said to enlarge wasted organs, as the breasts, ovaries, and testicles, while the paradoxical claim is also made that it reduces hypertrophy of the prostate. Possibly this may be explained by claiming that it tends toward the production of a normal condition, reducing parts when unhealthily enlarged, and increasing them when atrophied.