If you've ever had an acute infection of the prostate, you may know that antibiotics often clear up the problem in just a few days.
But as the antibiotics eliminate infection-causing bacteria, these powerful drugs also wipe out "healthy" organisms that aid digestion and help fortify the immune system. You may experience diarrhea, upset stomach or a yeast infection while taking the medication.
What's the answer? Holistic medicine uses alternative therapies, such as dietary supplements, nutritional advice and acupuncture, to complement-or replace-conventional medical treatments, including prescription drugs.
For example, probiotic "good" bacteria supplements help replenish the beneficial intestinal bacteria killed by antibiotics. Ask your doctor about taking 10 billion to 20 billion colony forming units (CFU) of probiotics, such as lactobacillus or acidophilus, two to three hours after each dose of antibiotics.*
Holistic treatments for other urological problems that affect men...**
Prescription drugs, such as finasteride (Proscar) and doxazosin (Cardura), can relieve the urgent need to urinate and other symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). But the drugs' side effects often include reduced libido, fatigue and potentially harmful drops in blood pressure. Holistic approach…
- Beta-sitosterol is a plant compound that is found in saw palmetto, a popular herbal remedy for BPH. Men who do not improve with saw palmetto may want to combine it with beta-sitosterol (125 mg daily).
- Pygeum africanum, an herb derived from an evergreen tree native to Africa, has anti-inflammatory effects that interfere with the formation of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that tend to accumulate in the prostate of men with BPH. Take 100 mg two times daily with or without saw palmetto and/or beta-sitosterol.
- Acupuncture may help ease BPH symptoms. It can be used in addition to the remedies described above. The typical regimen is one to two treatments weekly for about four weeks.
Whether you're taking medication or herbs, lifestyle changes-such as drinking less coffee (which acts as a diuretic).. avoiding spicy foods and alcohol (which can irritate the bladder)... and cutting down on fluids—are a key part of managing BPH symptoms.
For stronger, more reliable erections, conventional medicine offers several medications, such as sildenafil (Viagra) and vardenafil (Levitra). But these drugs can have side effects, including painful, prolonged erections and sudden vision loss. Holistic approach…
*To find a doctor near you who offers holistic therapies, consult the American Holistic Medical Association, 216-292-6644, www.holisticmedicine.org. Holistic doctors can help you choose high-quality supplements—these products may contain impurities.
**Because some supplements can interact with prescription drugs, raise blood sugar and cause other adverse effects, check with your doctor before trying any of the therapies mentioned in this article.
- Maca is a root vegetable from South America. In supplement form, it has been shown to increase libido in healthy men.
Recommended dosage: 500 mg to 1,000 mg three times daily.
- Asian ginseng, a well-studied herb from China and Korea, can improve erections. Take 900 mg three times daily.
- Ginkgo biloba, derived from a tree native to China, may improve erections by boosting circulation. Take 120 mg to 240 mg daily. Maca, Asian ginseng and ginkgo biloba can all be combined.
- Niacin, a B vitamin, widens blood vessels when taken in high doses (500 mg to 1,000 mg daily) and may help promote erections in some men who do not improve with the three impotence remedies described above. A doctor should monitor high-dose courses of niacin.
- Vigorous exercise (such as weight lifting, jogging or cycling) promotes healthy circulation and boosts testosterone.
Important: Erectile dysfunction may be an early warning of heart problems, so consult a doctor before starting an exercise program. Erectile dysfunction also may be a symptom of diabetes or other systemic illness-or stress and relationship issues. For this reason, men who experience erectile dysfunction should see a doctor for a full evaluation before trying holistic therapies.
Pain and swelling of the prostate (prostatitis) may be caused by inflammation that develops for unknown reasons or by an infection. The prostate enlargement that characterizes BPH, on the other hand, is likely due to hormonal changes that occur as men age. Symptoms of chronic prostatitis, such as pelvic pain and pain when urinating, can linger for months. Conventional medicine has little to offer other than antibiotics.
- Fish oil and quercetin (a plant-based supplement) are both anti-inflammatories. The fish oil supplements should contain a daily total of about 1,440 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 960 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Take 500 mg of quercetin twice daily. Fish oil and quercetin can be combined.
Because incontinence can be caused by various underlying problems, including an infection, a neurological disorder (such as multiple sclerosis) or an enlarged prostate, any man who suffers from incontinence should first be evaluated by a urologist.
- Buchu, cleavers and cornsilk are herbal remedies that often help when overactive bladder (marked by a sudden, intense need to urinate) causes incontinence. Some products contain all three herbs. For dosages, follow label instructions.
- Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple, acts as an anti-inflammatory to help treat incontinence caused by an inflamed prostate. Take 500 mg to 2,000 mg daily in two divided doses.
- Pumpkin seed oil extract may ease incontinence in men when overactive bladder is related to an enlarged prostate. Typical dosage: 160 mg of pumpkin seed oil extract, taken three times daily with meals. Pumpkin seed oil extract can be combined with saw palmetto. Ask your doctor for advice on combining pumpkin seed oil extract with any of the other incontinence remedies described above.
Urinary Problems Make Men 21% More Likely to Fall
In a recent four-year study of 5,872 men (age 165 or older), those who reported moderate lower urinary tract problems, such as urgency to urinate or urinary frequency, were 21% more likely to fall at least twice within a one-year period than those without urinary problems.
Theory: Falls may occur when a man is rushing to the bathroom-during the day or at night. If you have urinary tract symptoms ask your doctor about treatment.