Prostate cancer recently took over from heart disease as the largest killer of Australian men. The vast majority of men have no idea of the purpose of their prostate, let alone how to look after it. This is a ridiculous situation as we all know the sort of dietary and lifestyle issues that will help protect our heart.
The prostate is a gland, a muscle, a complex filter and a sexual centre all in one. The gland produces semen which contains substances to protect and energise the sperm. The muscle contracts and pumps the sperm during ejaculation. The filter is designed to protect the sperm from contaminants, and the sexual potential of the prostate is such that prostatic massage can actually deliver multiple orgasms in men. The modern medical machine has not managed prostate issues well. The greatest example of this failure is the fact that the most successful approach to prostate cancer is called "watchful waiting". Here the knife and the drugs have proven to offer more harm than good so simply doing nothing has a higher success rate. In this article I will share some important strategies to protect the prostate in the context of the varied role of this neglected gland.
There are key minerals required as glandular support and the most important of these is zinc. A healthy prostate gland contains around seven times more zinc than an enlarged, inflamed or cancerous prostate. Zinc is the most widespread mineral deficiency in this country, so it becomes essential for all men to supplement with zinc. 30 – 50 mg of zinc should be consumed before bedtime to avoid the zinc losses associated with our obsession with cereal grains. All cereal grains contain a natural acid called phytic acid. This acid bonds with zinc to form an insoluble zinc phytate, which is excreted from the body. If our consumption of cereals was limited to a single piece of toast this might not be a problem, but we start the day with cereal and toast and continue to eat sandwiches, rolls, pastries, cakes and pasta throughout the day. No organism was designed to eat that much cereal grain and we are suffering several health problems as a result.
Zinc is the mineral most required by prostate tissue and it offers several other benefits. Zinc displaces cadmium in the prostate and this heavy metal is a major sponsor of cancer. This is why metal workers, who have more contact with cadmium than most, have significantly higher rates of prostate cancer (1) An enzyme called aromatase, produced by abdominal fat cells, poses another problem for the prostate. Aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen which stimulates cancer cells. Zinc is the most powerful known aromatase inhibiter, so put a bottle of amino chelated zinc on your bedside cabinet and take up to 50 mg before you sleep each night. The rate is important and dose rates can safely be increased to as much as ****100 mg of zinc if you are already suffering from prostate cancer.
Selenium is another mineral that is missing in most of us and this mineral has also been shown to be of considerable importance for prostate health. 200 mcg of selenium should be supplemented daily and this level can be safely increased to 600 mcg to fight cancer. The highest natural source of selenium is Brazil Nuts but 8 nuts (containing 25 mcg per nut) must be consumed each day to access the 200 mcg required. The nuts must also be chewed well or undigested pieces are excreted along with their selenium component. The best way to access the full benefits of Brazil nuts (which also contain high levels of magnesium) is to blend them with your green smoothie in the morning.
Magnesium – The Master Mineral
The prostate muscle should be maintained with the most important mineral for muscle health, magnesium. This is the third mineral that is missing in most of us and the proactive potential of supplementing magnesium extends beyond prostate health. This mineral is directly linked to every aspect of heart disease, and magnesium shortage is also a primary root cause of high blood pressure and stroke. Magnesium deficiency is almost as common as the widespread shortages of zinc and selenium. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of us require more of this mineral. Deficiency signs include tension, heart irregularities, cramps, insomnia, seizures and high blood pressure. The problem with an advanced magnesium deficiency, which is typically evidenced by cramps, is that the stomach lining loses some of its capacity to absorb magnesium. In this instance, oral supplementation can be ineffective. Transdermal magnesium (MagSorb™ from NTS Health) supplementation is an exciting new way to deliver magnesium directly through the skin. Transdermal magnesium can be sprayed directly on the skin or applied to baths and footbaths to rapidly address magnesium deficiencies.
Detox and Sex - Cleansing Your Filter
Your prostate is also a fine filter charged with extracting environmental toxins to protect the all-important sperm. This filter has been dramatically overworked in a world with 74,000 registered chemicals and countless other contaminants, but the major issue relates to the fact that it is never cleansed. Most of us understand the problems associated with never servicing the oil filter in our cars but we have forgotten about the filters in our body. The liver, the kidneys and the prostate have all been ignored and together they are delivering many of our major heath challenges. There are two key strategies for cleansing the prostate and one of them is a lot more fun than the other.
The more challenging cleansing protocol involves fasting. When we stop eating for a period the massive energy expenditure involved in digesting food can be directed elsewhere. The main recipient of this influx of energy is our two stage detox system. This is why fasting is institutionalised in many cultures (Ramadan and Yom Kippur) and it is the reason that people like Ghandi and Jesus adopted regular fasting protocols. All fasting is of benefit to our body filters and general detox but the fasting practice that has been best researched in relation to prostate protection is the Lemon Detox Diet. This specialised fast involves a ten-day period where nothing but lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper and pure maple syrup is consumed. It sounds difficult but for some reason this combination of sweet, hot and sour supresses hunger and it is much easier than you would imagine. The Lemon Detox Diet has regularly dropped PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) scores by 50% and halved the size of swollen prostates.
The fun strategy involves exercising the muscle and gland with regular sex. An Australian study even identified a marked reduction in prostate problems associated with those that had masturbated more frequently in their younger years. However, it is more like a case of "using it or losing it" at any stage of your life. Japanese woman often practice massage of the prostate as part of their love making and Japanese men have less prostate problems as a result. This massage, which can be done both internally or externally, encourages a stronger blood flow to the prostate and this is great way to enhance the impact of herbs like saw palmetto, stinging nettle or horsetail through improved delivery. It is also a great way to improve the delivery of antibiotics, in the case of prostatitis. There is a lower than 50% success rate when treating prostatitis with antibiotics but this rate can be significantly improved if the prostate can be massaged during treatment. The increased blood flow delivers more of the antibiotic to the target. Prostatic massage can also produce multiple orgasms in the recipient. Perhaps now you can understand that enigmatic smile on the face of Japanese men!
Taming the Flame
Inflammation is a key player in infected, enlarged and diseased prostates and an anti-inflammatory game plan is essential. This can involve consumption of herbs like turmeric . Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been described as the most powerful anti-inflammatory ever researched. You can source turmeric in 500 gram packs and mix up the yellow powder into powerful liquid concentrates for daily consumption. The taste is quite acceptable. Perhaps the most powerful anti-inflammatory is omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil. Omega-3 fats are the building blocks for the anti-inflammatory stage of our two-stage inflammatory cascade. By contrast, omega-6 fats fuel the inflammatory phase. The ratio between these two fatty acids should be just 2:1 in favour of omega-6. Unfortunately, the ratio in Australia is currently 20:1 and that means we are oversupplied with the building blocks for inflammation and are pitifully undersupplied with the tools for anti-inflammation. The trick is to toss out the omega-6-drenched margarine, the sunflower, safflower and canola cooking oils, and the foods made with both, while lifting your omega-3 intake. The best way to achieve this involves consumption of a tablespoon of cod liver oil, on a daily basis. You can kill off the fishy flavour by combining it with lemon juice and this practice also serves to negate the reflux that can sometimes be associated with this oil. A tablespoon of cod liver oil is equivalent to ten fish oil capsules and this wonderful supplement also contains the highest known levels of vitamin D3 and vitamin A. Vitamin D is the subject of much research in relation to cancer prevention, including cancer of the prostate gland.
Food as Prostate Medicine
Your choice of food can have a big impact upon the health of your prostate. There is now considerable research that suggests that those of us with prostate enlargement should avoid all dairy products. There is a marked increased risk of prostate enlargement progressing to prostate cancer, for those consuming this food. Red meat consumption, although less destructive, should also be minimised. The foods to embrace are those rich in the carotene called lycopene. This nutrient appears to be remarkably protective of the prostate and is best sourced from watermelon and cooked tomatoes. Homemade spaghetti source, where olive oil is stirred into the sauce just before consumption, is a great option. The cooking process releases the lycopene and the addition of olive oil provides the carrier for this fat-soluble nutrient. There is also a great prostate-preserving summer drink where watermelon (with the seeds) is blended to produce a lycopene-packed, super drink that is also rich in zinc, magnesium and iron (all derived from the micronised seeds).
Coffee is a prostate irritant while green tea is of benefit and anything from the onion family should be embraced. In one study, the consumption of a single spring onion each day was linked to a 71% reduction in all forms of cancer (2). Pumpkin seeds are a very rich natural source of zinc but they also have other benefits in relation to prostate health. Pumpkin seeds contain specific fatty acid chains that have been shown to nourish prostate tissue. Pumpkin seed extract is now widely used in successful protocols for prostate protection.
Although not quite a food, there are three amino acids which have proven very prostate protective, particularly for those with enlarged prostates. These amino acids have proven so effective that their combination was made illegal in the US in 1990, presumably due to lobbying from pharmaceutical manufacturers (3). However, this is not the case in Japan where a commercial product involving this trio has proven successful for decades. The three amino acids involved are glycine, glutamic acid and alanine and they should be supplemented at the rate of 300 to 400 mg of each amino acid, per day (depending upon the extent of the problem).
There are three herbs with a long history of effective prostate protection and they include saw palmetto, pygeum and stinging nettle. As with most supplements, it is important to get the rates right, as the most common problem relates to taking too little to achieve the desired result. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is perhaps the most widely used of this trio. There have been multiple published studies where urinary difficulties have subsided and prostate size has reduced following treatment with this herb (4). This natural alternative does not sponsor the side effects associated with Proscar, the most popular drug treatment for enlarged prostate. Interestingly, the mode of action of the herb and the drug are similar but the herb is known as an aphrodisiac while the drug can achieve the opposite. That mode of action relates to dihydrotestosterone. There is an enzyme that appears to become more abundant as we age, called 5-alpha reductase which converts our testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Excess levels of this form of testosterone are linked to hair loss (baldness), adult onset acne and, most importantly, enlargement of the prostate. Finasteride (Proscar) was launched by Merck in 1992 to shut down 5-alpha reductase. Unfortunately, it can also shut down libido and sponsor impotence (5). Saw palmetto also impacts 5-alpha reductase to reduce the conversion of testosterone to DHT, but without the problems. 200 mg is the desired dose as a preventative but that rate doubles to 400 mg per day if you already suffer BPH (enlarged prostate).
The second healing herb with great prostate benefits is Pygeum africanum. Here the all-important dose rate is 100 mg per day. However, if you suffer from BPH, that daily dose rate can be doubled for the first month. This herb has a different mode of action to Saw palmetto and can be taken in combination. Pygeum is a powerful anti-inflammatory and it also features biochemicals that reduce prolactin levels and block the accumulation of cholesterol in the prostate. Prolactin appears to increase the uptake of testosterone by the prostate while cholesterol increases binding sites for DHT.
The third solution provided by Nature is a herb called stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Once again this can be combined in a treatment protocol with the other two herbs because it has a different mechanism of action. Stinging nettle has a three pronged impact on prostate health. It limits the transportation of testosterone to the prostate. Like zinc, it serves as an aromatase inhibitor to stifle the negative effects of estrogen and it also reduces the conversion of testosterone to DHT. As mentioned earlier, DHT increases the proliferation of prostatic cells thereby increasing the size of the prostate. The ideal dose rate for stinging nettle is 100 – 200 mg per day, depending upon the extent of your problem. Stinging nettle tea can also be helpful and it is a pleasant drink that can be sourced from most supermarkets.
Fighting Free Radicals
Cancers, of all forms begin with free radical damage to cells and an obvious preventative strategy is to consume high levels of antioxidants to quell these free radical fires. The most important of these nutrients are the antioxidant vitamins: vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A. Green smoothies, where raw greens are micronised in a high powered blender in combination with fruit and water are probably the best way to source these antioxidant vitamins but you can also provide support with supplements and other foods.
The very best source of all eight forms of vitamin E is red palm oil. In fact, this superior cooking oil contains the highest levels of all four tocotrienals (40 times more potent than tocopherols) of any food and it also contains the highest known levels of carotenes (including lycopene). The organic South American red palm oil contains so many antioxidants that it cannot be oxidised during cooking, which is a serious problem with most other cooking oils. Vitamin A is best sourced from cod liver oil and vitamin C can be safely dosed at high rates using vitamin C supplements. However, there is a caution here. Your vitamin C supplement should always contain optimal levels of bioflavonoids to ensure optimal performance and it should be fully buffered with a mineral complex that attempts to mirror natural vitamin C. Unbuffered vitamin C can prove counterproductive as it can prove harsh on beneficial gut organisms. I am obviously biased, but I believe that BioSpark™ from NTS Health is one of the best, all-inclusive vitamin C products available.
I have already mentioned the importance of vitamin D, the so called "sunshine vitamin", which turns out to be widely deficient even in sun-drenched locations like Queensland. It is now understood that vitamin D is actually a hormone precursor rather than a vitamin but it is considered too late to change the name. This important nutrient has been shown to retard cancer growth (proliferation), promote cellular specialisation (differentiation) and it also promotes the death of injured or ageing cells (apoptosis), thus reducing cancer vulnerability. Vitamin D also reduces the ability of tumours to redirect blood supply to finance their own growth (angioneogenesis). This is a powerful package and the dose rates to achieve this kind of protection range from 5000 to 40,000 IU per day. The high rate is recommended for those with prostate cancer and new research suggest there are no apparent side effects at the highest rate (6).
The final vitamin worthy of closer attention is vitamin B6. This vitamin is often termed "the universal catalyst", as it improves the performance of all other nutrients. Unfortunately, it is also called "the stress vitamin" because levels are depleted during prolonged periods of low level anxiety (this accounts for most of us in the stress-filled world we have created). Vitamin B6 also reduces prolactin levels, which slows the conversion of testosterone to DHT, so it is a truly important nutrient for prostate health. Vitamin B6 should always be taken in conjunction with a good B group supplement as the B vitamins tend to work synergistically. 50 mg of B6 per day is sufficient in conjunction with the B6 already present in the B group supplement (assuming that you have not chosen a fizzy, sweet, foil-enclosed version of the B groups which generally contain very low levels of the key B vitamins).
A Productive Program for Prostate Health
It seems like a valuable strategy for me to combine these suggestions in a program. It may appear complex and too involved but in the face of the current plague, prostate health is surely worth the effort. Even if you adopt half a dozen of these strategies it should prove productive.
Take 30 to 50 mg of chelated zinc each night directly before bed. MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane) is a great synergist for zinc if you also need any help with inflammation.
Supplement 200 mcg of selenium each day. If you have prostate cancer that rate can be increased to 600 mcg per day. Vitamin E is a selenium synergist but do not combine vitamin C and selenium as they are antagonistic.
Supplement with 600 mg of magnesium each day and/or spray on transdermal magnesium. You can also add two tablespoons of transdermal magnesium to a footbath and soak your feet while reading, working or watching TV.
Practice a juice fast twice a year and/or embark upon the ten-day Lemon Detox Diet. A juice fast involves the following: Eat nothing but fruit and salads for two days and then drink fresh juices for three days. Conclude this 7-day fast with two more days of fruit and salads. This fast typically results in a weight loss of about 4 kg, which will help if you are trying to reduce the prostate risks associated with gut fat (i.e. the increased conversion of your testosterone to cancer-feeding estrogen).
Increase your sexual activity and investigate a sex toy called the Aneros Prostate Massage Device which enables a self-induced prostatic massage during intercourse. This massage has been shown to be of considerable benefit in improving the delivery of herbs or antibiotics to the prostate and generally improving prostate health.
Introduce an anti-inflammatory emphasis into your diet. Put turmeric on everything possible and regularly consume DIY turmeric paste to access the remarkable substance, curcumin. Consume at least one tablespoon of cod liver oil (with some fresh lemon juice) each day for omega-3 fats and vitamins A and D.
If you have an enlarged prostate source alanine, glutamic acid and glycine and take 300 mg of each on a daily basis.
Take 200 mg of saw palmetto, 100 mg of Pygeum and 100 mg of stinging nettle each day for protective maintenance. Double those rates if you have BPH or cancer.
Embrace medicinal food for the prostate. Cook with quality red palm oil, eat a spring onion every day, consume homemade, organic tomato sauces with olive oil, drink blended watermelon (seeds included), reduce coffee intake and drink green tea regularly, discover green smoothies (see my earlier article) and take a heaped teaspoon of BioSpark™ each day to source sufficient vitamin C (in the right form). If you have an enlarged prostate then also consider high dose vitamin D3 at between 5000 and 40,000 IU per day.
Supplement with a good B group vitamin each day along with an additional 50 mg of vitamin B6.
Research the internet yourself for prostate formulas on the market in Australia or contact NTS for more information on proactive prostate formulas.
Disclaimer: All recommendations made in this article are guidelines only. We recommend you seek professional medical advice prior to undertaking any nutritional supplement.
- Van der Guiden, 1997, Waalher and Rehm, 1994.
- Dr Joel Fuhrman, Super Immunity
- The Rodale Book of Herbs For Health and Healing
- Wagner D, Trudel D, Van der Kwast T, Nonn L, Giangreco AA, Li D, Dias A, Cardoza M, Laszlo S, Hersey K, Klotz L, Finelli A, Fleshner N, Vieth R (2013). Randomized Clinical Trial of Vitamin D3 Doses on Prostatic Vitamin D Metabolite Levels and Ki67 Labeling in Prostate Cancer Patients (The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism)