The Traditional Chinese Medical Clinic is celebrating Men’s Health this month. Please enjoy the following blog on caring for the prostate with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The American Cancer Society classifies prostate cancer as the most common form of cancer among U.S. men. For men over the age of 40 with a family history of prostate cancer, it is extremely important to monitor Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. A PSA blood test measures the level of a protein released by prostate cells. If a PSA level is 2.5 or higher, it reveals the possibility of prostate growth (hyperplasia), but it does not always mean that cancer is present. Since PSA levels may fluctuate with infection and lab errors, usually more than one test over a period of time is done to confirm the PSA level. Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and ultrasound are other ways to evaluate the prostate. However, only biopsies can truly determine whether the growth in the prostate is benign or malignant.
After the age of 40, the prostate naturally enlarges due to changes in hormones. The swelling of the prostate puts pressure against the bladder and urethra, thereby affecting the smooth flow of urine. Abnormal patterns of urination such as increased frequency at night, burning sensation, difficulty, blockage and dribbling are common signs and symptoms of prostate enlargement.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Prostate Care
TCM associates hyperplasia of the prostate with damp heat and kidney deficiency. As the vital energy in the kidney system decreases, the sex hormones change and sexual energy declines. This greatly affects the function of the prostate and circulation in this region.
Regular acupuncture treatments help to improve the circulation in the prostate. Chinese herbs are frequently used to enhance the effect of acupuncture. Herbs such as He Shou Wu, replenish the kidney essence. Together, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can lower elevated PSA levels in patients with prostate enlargement.
To further support the prostate, it is important for men to eat nuts, seeds, pumpkin, mushroom and berries. Regular consumption of foods that contain lycopene, a prostate protective antioxidant is also highly recommended: watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, papaya, apricot and cooked tomatoes (tomato paste, tomato soup, tomato juice and marinara sauce). In addition, stress management, regular exercise and prostate massaging are beneficial practices to help maintain prostate health.