When it comes to men’s health, we hear a lot about enlarged prostate and prostate cancer. But there is another prostate ailment that gets much less attention yet affects many men. Prostatitis, a very painful condition, is inflammation of the prostate gland. It can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms (persistent pain in the pelvis or rectum…discomfort in the abdomen, lower back, penis or testicles…difficult, painful or frequent urination or painful ejaculation) are similar to those of other conditions such as an enlarged prostate or a urinary tract infection.
It is estimated that almost half of all men will be affected by prostatitis at some point in their lives. If the condition lasts for three months or longer, it’s considered to be chronic prostatitis.
Mainstream medicine often is unsuccessful in treating chronic prostatitis, leaving men in pain and without hope of feeling better. In my practice, I have had lots of success treating chronic prostatitis as both an inflammatory condition (which it always is) and as a possible fungal infection.
For a long time, it was thought that prostatitis could be caused only by bacterial infection. That view was dispelled when several studies found that the bacteria in the prostates of both healthy men and men with prostatitis were essentially identical. It’s now understood that most prostatitis cases are not caused by bacteria. Still, most mainstream physicians routinely prescribe antibiotics for it—a treatment that is appropriate only if your case is one of a very small number actually caused by bacteria.
Although prostate inflammation is not well understood, the inflammation could be the result of inadequate fluid drainage into the prostatic ducts…an abnormal immune response… or a fungal infection.
If you experience any of the symptoms of prostatitis mentioned above, see your doctor. Your visit should include a rectal exam to check for swelling or tenderness in the prostate…and a laboratory test of prostatic fluid to check for bacterial infection. (Fluid is released during prostate gland massage.) I also recommend that you have your doctor order a urine culture to test for fungal infection (most medical doctors don’t test for this).
In a small number of cases, the lab test does reveal a bacterial infection, and an antibiotic is appropriately prescribed. But if there is no bacterial infection, then I recommend that men with this condition follow an anti-inflammatory, antifungal treatment plan for two months. If symptoms subside but don’t disappear, continue for another two months. Even if you don’t have a test for fungal infection, I often advise following the antifungal portion of the program (along with the inflammation portion) to see if it helps to relieve symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory diet. If you are thinking, Why is Dr. Stengler telling me again about an anti-inflammatory diet?—I’m telling you because it works. Eating a diet of whole foods and cutting out packaged and processed foods go a long way to reducing inflammation in general and prostate inflammation in particular.
Eat: A variety of plant products to maximize your intake of antioxidants, which are natural anti-inflammatories…coldwater fish such as salmon, trout and sardines, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids…and pumpkin seeds, which are high in zinc, a mineral that helps reduce prostate swelling.
Don’t eat: Foods that are high in saturated fat, such as red meat and dairy, which can make inflammation worse. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and trans fats, all of which tend to contribute to inflammation.
Antifungal diet. If you already are following the anti-inflammatory diet above, then you have eliminated refined sugar from your diet. (Fungi thrive on sugar!) Also try eliminating all grains (including whole grains and rice) from your diet. Fungi thrive on these foods.
The following supplements have targeted benefits for prostate inflammation. They are safe to take together, and there are no side effects. Many men feel much better within two weeks of taking these supplements.
Rye pollen extract. Studies show that rye pollen extract can relieve the pain of chronic prostatitis. In one study published in British Journal of Urology, men with chronic prostatitis took three tablets of rye pollen extract daily. After six months, 36% had no more symptoms and 42% reported symptom improvement. Follow label instructions. The pollen component in rye pollen does not contain gluten, but if you have celiac disease or a severe allergy to gluten, look for a certified gluten-free product.
Quercetin. This powerful flavonoid helps reduce prostate inflammation. Dose: 1,000 milligrams (mg) twice daily.
Fish oil. In addition to eating anti-inflammatory foods, these supplements are a rich source of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Dose: 2,000 mg daily of combined EPA and DHA.
Many patients benefit from taking one or more antifungal remedies. Several herbs—such as oregano, pau d’arco, garlic and grapefruit seed extract—have potent antifungal properties. They are available in capsule and liquid form. For doses, follow label instructions. Most patients feel better within two to four weeks of taking antifungal supplements.
Source: Mark A. Stengler, NMD, is a naturopathic medical doctor and leading authority on the practice of alternative and integrated medicine. Dr. Stengler is author of the Health Revelations newsletter, author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books), founder and medical director of the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California, and adjunct associate clinical professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. http://MarkStengler.com