Men, your prostate is a walnut-sized gland that allows urine to flow freely through its core and produces a fluid that constitutes ~30% of semen. Consequently, keeping it healthy is important for both urinary function and fertility.
You may have heard recently that a federal task force has advised against testing blood levels of PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). Primarily because if elevated their next often-advised step is biopsy of the gland, which can have adverse side effects such as infection and lead to unnecessary treatments. 'Unnecessary' because many of these tumours are slow growing, and therefore the benefit of treatment does not outweigh the risks, which can include impotence and incontinence.
Looking at the body from a functional perspective, naturopathic doctors (ND) still find PSA a useful tool as we can glean valuable information from the number.
Elevated PSA with mild or no urinary symptoms may be a sign of a yeast overgrowth (Candida), bacterial infection, hormonal imbalance (prostate cells have receptors for estrogens & testosterone) or increased body burden of heavy metals (cadmium &/or arsenic). These can be easily assessed and treated by your ND.
If cancer has been diagnosed by your oncologist, and the 'Watchful Waiting' approach is recommended (for a low Gleason score cancer), natural remedies can be very helpful in supporting healthy prostate function. Nutrients with beneficial effects on this gland include:
- green tea extract (EGCG)
- inositol hexaphosphate (IP-6)
Prevention, of course, is the best medicine. You can help support your prostate by:
- eating foods rich in zinc: pumpkin seeds, oysters!, tahini, beef, lamb, toasted wheatgerm
- daily ejaculation
- avoiding cigarette smoke: the cadmium competes with zinc and increases activity of an enzyme that will make more testosterone more aggressive
- consuming 1-2 Tbsp ground flax seed daily
- avoiding foods wrapped/stored in soft plastics
- incorporating stress management techniques in to your daily routine: to prevent testosterone being excessively converted to estradiol (estrogen), a potent growth stimulator
Naturopathic doctors can help by:
- testing hormone and heavy metal levels
- supporting a healthy stress response
- providing specific dietary and nutrient recommendations to support healthy prostate function
- ordering PSA test every 3 months, to monitor your response to treatment