By Ariana Estelle-Symons, Ph.D., Copyright 1997
From the October, 1997 issue of the Kombucha Konnection Newsletter.
Pick up any `healthy living' magazine and you'll find at least one section or article devoted to menopause, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer (in women), psychological problems associated with menopause, women & aging, or `how to attract a man if you are past 50'. Personally, I think it's sad that so little attention is paid to the men on the planet. The fact is, women are expected to experience hormonal imbalances. They are expected to have a difficult transition from child-bearing age to middle age. Good grief, a woman suffering from PMS can literally `get away with murder' (we've all read the stories about that one).
But, what about the male of the species? Not much attention is paid to the fact that men suffer from hormonal imbalances as much and as often as women. It's just that the changes brought about by these imbalances manifest differently in men. We've all remarked about the good looking 17 year old boy that is "suffering from raging hormones"; we've all joked about the handsome man-about-town or the office Romeo, and made remarks about `an excess of testosterone'. And, when a man passes 50 or 60, or even 70, and once again starts pursuing women (usually younger women), we say (at least most women say) that he's going through a second adolescence, shake our heads, and call him a `dirty old man'.
We (women), expect men to be strong, smart, fearless, confident, reliable, courteous, sensitive, understanding and .... most of all... an excellent breadwinner who can bring home the bacon. Then, with any luck, he'll help us cook that bacon and perhaps do some laundry and bathe the kids.
The role of the male in our society has changed -- every bit as much as
it has for today's female.
In my grandfather's time (he was born in 1890), a man of fifty had `made his mark', and if he hadn't; too bad, because his years were numbered. If he was lucky, he might survive another 15 or maybe 20 years - any more than that was usually considered a bonus. My grandfather (Marvin) died in 1953. A little aside here... HIS father (Col. Wm. Neel) was a real winner... at the age of 70, he walked away from his law practice, threw the neighbor's wife into the back of the wagon, traveled from Virginia to Arkansas, where he decided he'd raise chickens and kids -- one of that second family was my grandfather. Col.Wm. was an exception to the rule -- a randy old devil if there ever was one.
Likewise, in my grandfather's time, there was not much discussion about `prostate problems'. That's probably because not many men lived long enough to experience the the problem, and if they did, no one knew it because they simply died `with it'. Things are different now. It's no big deal for a great-grandfather to win a marathon, or sail a boat around the world, or begin a new career, start a new business, get a new wife, and sometimes, raise a new family. When a man of 52 is forced to accept `early retirement' (you know the one -- no benefit, no pension), he can begin again -- all over again.
Now that men are living longer and more productive lives, we begin to hear
about `prostate problems.' Since there are usually no symptoms in the early stages, it is easy to understand why
so many men let prostate problems go untreated at first. They don't even know something is wrong until the urethra
is blocked and problem can no longer be ignored. The severity of symptoms doesn't necessarily tell you the extent
of enlargement, but a doctor's examination will. If you have any of the symptoms listed elsewhere in this newsletter,
you need to be examined by a doctor because problems such as an obstruction in the urinary tube, a bacterial infection
and bladder or prostate cancer need to be ruled out.
A study conducted by the Prostate Cancer Education Council shows that most men do not have regular physical examinations, and of the men that do, less than half of them have their prostate checked.
And so, in this issue we take a look at `prostate problems'. We'll find
out where and what the prostate is, and the problems that can occur. And best of all, we'll hear from some men
who have had these problems and some of the `alternative' methods they have tried -- including Kombucha.
SOME SYMPTOMS OF PROSTATE PROBLEMS
THE PROSTATE GLAND - What is it? Where is it? What does it do?
The prostate is the source of most problems with the male genitourinary system. Nearly every man over the age of forty-five will have some enlargement of the prostate, which is a result of hormonal changes and is a normal part of the aging process. Most prostate enlargements don't become really troublesome until a man reaches the age of sixty. Surgery is one route to take with a problem prostate, but there are natural means that can be used to control its enlargement and perhaps avoid surgery altogether.
The prostate is a small organ about the size of a walnut. It lies below the bladder (where urine is stored) and surround the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder). The prostate makes a fluid that becomes part of semen. Semen is the white fluid that contains sperm.
Prostate problems are common in men 50 and older. Most can be treated successfully without harming sexual function. A urologist (a specialist in diseases of the urinary system) is the kind of doctor most qualified to diagnose and treat many prostate problems.
MALE MENOPAUSE?- Is there such a thing??
Some men develop hormonal and physical changes that can affect their energy level and sexual performance. The term "Male menopause" has been used to describe a condition in which middle age or older men begin to produce abnormally low levels of the male sex hormone testosterone.
Actually, the majority of endocrinologists believe that male menopause is not a valid medical term. Menopause describes a natural event in women the cessation of menstrual periods. Menopause normally begins between ages 40 and 55 when the ovaries no longer produce enough of the female sex hormone estrogen.
In contrast, only a minority of men develop what has been called male menopause.
The more accurate term is hypogonadism , a condition that relates to unusually
low production of testosterone. Testosterone production drops
gradually (but only about 1 percent a year) in average middle age and older men. Hypogonadal men experience a more
rapid decline in testosterone. A blood test helps a doctor diagnose the condition.
Low Testosterone levels can be one cause of impotence, the persistent inability to have or maintain an erection. Low testosterone production also may diminish a man's sex drive as well as his general energy level.
Researchers tell us that two factors may contribute to hypogonadism in men:
CAN LOST TESTOSTERONE BE REPLACED?
There are treatments to restore testosterone levels sufficient to maintain sexual function. However, testosterone replacement is not helpful for all men experiencing impotence, which can be caused by a number of things -- psychological, rather than physical, factors.
If a man is one of the minority that does indeed suffer from identifiable hypogonadism, there are two ways to replace testosterone:
NONCANCEROUS PROSTATE PROBLEMS
Acute prostatitis is a bacterial infection of the prostate. It can occur in men at any age. Symptoms include fever, chills, and pain in the lower back and between the legs. This problem also can make it painful to urinate. Doctors prescribe antibiotics for acute prostatitis and recommend that the patient drink more liquids. Treatment is usually successful.
Chronic prostatitis is a prostate infection that comes back again and again. The symptoms are similar to those of acute prostatitis except that there is usually no fever. Also, the symptoms are usually milder in chronic prostatitis. However, they can last a long time.
Chronic prostatitis is hard to treat. Antibiotics often work when the infection is caused by bacteria. But sometimes no disease causing bacteria can be found. In some cases, it helps to massage the prostate to release fluids. Warm baths also may bring relief. Chronic prostatitis clears up by itself in may cases.
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is enlargement of the prostate. This condition is common in older men. More than half of men in their 60's have BPH. Amoung men in their 70's and 80's, the figure may go as high as 90 percent.
An enlarged prostate may eventually block the urethra and make it hard to urinate. Other common symptoms are dribbling after urination and the urge to urinate often, especially at night. In rare cases, the patient is unable to urinate.
A doctor usually can detect an enlarged prostate by rectal exam. The doctor also may examine the urethra, prostate, and bladder using a cytoscope, an instrument that is inserted through the penis.
BPH Treatment Choices
Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among American men
About 80 percent of all cases occur in men over 65. For unknown reasons, prostate cancer is more common among African American men that white men.
In the early stages of prostate cancer, the disease stays in the prostate and is not life threatening. But without treatment, cancer can spread to other parts of the body and eventually cause death. Some 40,000 men die every year from prostate cancer that has spread.
To find the cause of prostate symptoms, the doctor takes a careful medical history and performs a physical exam. The physical includes a digital rectal exam, in which the doctor feels the prostate through the rectum. Hard or lumpy areas may mean that cancer is present.
Some doctors also recommend a blood test for a substance called prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA levels may be high in men who have prostate cancer or BPH. However, the test is not always accurate. Researchers are studying changes in PSA levels over time to learn whether the test may someday be useful for early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
If a doctor suspects prostate cancer, he or she may recommend a biopsy. This is a simple surgical procedure in which a small piece of prostate tissue is removed with a needle and examined under a microscope. If the biopsy shows prostate cancer, other tests are done to determine the type of treatment needed.
PROSTATE CANCER TREATMENT
Doctors have several ways to treat prostate cancer. The choice depends on many factors, such as whether or not the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, the patient's age and general health, and how the patient feels about the treatment options and their side effects. Approaches to treatment include:
Watchful Waiting -- Some men decide not to have treatment immediately if the cancer is growing slowly and not causing symptoms. Instead, they have regular checkups so they can be closely monitored by their doctor. Men who are older or have another serious illness may choose this option.
Surgery usually removes the entire prostate and surrounding tissues. This operation is called a radical prostatectomy. In the past, impotence was a side effect for nearly all men undergoing radical prostatectomy. But now, doctors can preserve the nerves going to the penis so that men can have erections after prostate removal.
Incontinence, the inability to hold urine, is common for a time after radical surgery for cancer. Most men regain urinary control within several weeks. A few continue to have problems that require them to wear a device to collect urine.
Another kind of surgery is a transurethral resection, which cuts cancer from the prostate but does not take out the entire prostate. This operation is sometimes done to relieve symptoms caused by the tumor before other treatment , or in men who cannot have a radical prostatectomy for whatever reasons.
Radiation therapy uses high energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is often used when cancer cells are found in more than one area. Impotence may occur in men treated with radiation therapy.
Hormone therapy uses various hormones to stop cancer cells from growing. It is used for prostate cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body. Growth of breast tissue is a common side effect of hormone therapy.
NEW PROSTATE RESEARCH & TREATMENTS
Researchers recently completed a three year multi center study of the UroLume endourethral prosthesis, a 1-inch coil that is placed via catheter into the portion of the urethra that runs through the prostate. The coil, or stent, holds the urethra open , rather like a tunnel under a river. The nonmagnetic metal device is permanent; eventually it becomes covered with epithelial tissue, which prevents the risk of infection or surface deposit formation. Stent implantation is an outpatient procedure that requires only local anesthesia. Currently it is being offered primarily to older men in acute urinary retention.
DOES EXERCISE PREVENT PROSTATE CANCER??
You're wise if you're looking for ways to protect your prostate. Prostate cancer is all too common. You may think living a healthy lifestyle - eating nutritious meals and staying active -- will head off heart disease, but your chances of getting cancer are up to your genes and your lucky stars.
Not completely true! Exercising regularly really can reduce your risk of prostate cancer. So can burning extra calories in your everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and walking.
A researcher at Harvard University looked at over 20,000 Harvard graduates and compared men who exercised with men who were inactive. Prostate cancer was extremely rare (only one case) in the 365 men who burned over 4,000 calories a week. There were 38 cases of prostate cancer in the 1,869 men who burned fewer than 1,000 calories a week.
You don't have to be a math whiz to figure out what the Harvard researchers
concluded. The numbers indicate that if you're staying active, you're doing your prostate a favor.
American Journal of Epidemiology (135,2:169)
What Is Prostatitis?
Prostatitis is ill defined; any unexplained urinary or sexual dysfunction may be related to prostatitis. Please refer to "Prostate Problems -- Symptoms" on page one (above).
It is estimated that at least 40% of men's visits to urologists are caused by prostatitis. It can affect young men, while BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia) or prostate cancer are more typical of older men. Because prostatitis varies in severity and because it has attracted little attention from researchers, no one knows how many men suffer from it. Urologists estimate that 50% of men will experience symptoms of prostatitis during their lifetimes, and the National Center for Health Statistics report that of the visits of men to the doctor for urogenital problems, 25% were for prostatitis. A pathologist, J. McNeal, found prostatitis lesions in 40 of 91 men at random autopsy. A University of Illinois Professor of Urology, R. Sharifi, believes that prostatitis is the most common disease of middle aged men.
It is currently thought that of all cases of prostatitis, 5% are clearly bacterial and 95% are "non-bacterial" (`idiopathic or unexplained').
Acute bacterial prostatitis comes on quickly, can cause intense pain, fever, and chills, and can require hospitalization, but is usually cured quickly with antibiotics.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is less intense, but is not cured as quickly. Examination of the urine and prostatic fluid, may indicate disease causing bacteria are present in the prostate. The condition may clear up after several months of antibiotics, but, often does not.
Some researchers believe that many cases of prostatitis are caused by auto immune reactions, and auto immune prostatitis has been demonstrated in laboratory animals.
Some doctors think that some cases are caused by a back flow of urine into the prostate, caused by anatomical factors or overly rushed urination. Others believe that decreased sexual activity can lead to prostatitis. Another theory is that some cases of prostatitis are caused by too much tension in the urinary sphincter.
WHAT IS THE PSA TEST?
The more common name, `PSA Test' stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. It is recommended every year for men 50 and older. Men in their 40's should also have a PSA test every year if they are at high risk of prostate cancer. Risk factors are a high fat diet, a family history of prostate cancer, prior sexually transmitted disease, and occupational exposure to cadmium.
The PSA test has come under fire recently for not being sensitive enough. Up to now, any man with a PSA over 4.0 was supposedly at risk. Some older men were being frightened by high PSA levels when they didn't actually have prostate cancer.
So, some researchers have come up with new guidelines for PSA values by age: Men under 50 should be under 2.0, men from 50 to 59 should be under 3.5, men from 60 to 69 should be under 4.5, and men over 70 should be under 6.5.
In the future, the PSA value may also be compared with another value called
alpha-1-antichymotripsin or ACT. The PSA to ACT ratio may be able to tell doctors even more about a man's risk
for prostate cancer.
According to researchers, this ratio needs to be studied further to see if it can be effective in helping to screen men for prostate cancer.
THE NATURAL APPROACH TO A HEALTHY PROSTATE
It may come as a surprise to you, but herbs can help to encourage and maintain prostate health. They can, in fact, correct BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), by far the most common prostate complaint. In 1990, an estimated $3 billion was spent on prostate surgery in the United States. The sad part of this is that after about 5 years, most men find that the surgery must be repeated.
Typically, the most common cause of prostate enlargement is changes in hormone levels. As a man ages, his testosterone levels begin to fall. At the same time, his levels of the "female" hormones prolactin, estrogen, LH and FSH rise. This dramatic hormonal shift can result in many body changes, such as weight gain, changes in fat distribution and a decrease in muscle strength. Even the testosterone itself changes. An especially potent form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) begins to dominate. Unfortunately, DHT can cause prostate cells to multiply excessively; four to six times the normal amount of DHT is found in most enlarged prostates. While DHT increases with age, a number of environmental pollutants (the chemicals dioxin, polyhalogenated biphenyls, and hexachlorobenzene) also make this hormone accumulate in the prostate.
Although the changes that men experience are different than those of women, there is one `treatment' that is advised for both and that is, to strengthen the adrenal glands so that they can take over the responsibility of sufficient male hormones and tone the liver to help it properly detoxify hormones circulating in your blood.
The same herbs used to increase physical stamina * Siberian Ginseng, shizandra, licorice and ginseng are some of the best choices to help you get through `male menopause'. Here's an easy `tincture' you can make yourself.
NOTE: If you have hypoglycemia, a heart disorder, or high blood pressure, check with your doctor before taking Siberian Ginseng.
MALE CHANGE TINCTURE
1 ounce tincture of ginseng root
1 ounce each of tincture of:
Siberian ginseng root
Combine above ingredients. Take half a dropper full once or twice a day.
North American doctors, less schooled in the use of herbs than their European and Asian counterparts, are just beginning to pay attention to the exciting research on herbs that can be used to correct prostate problems. Many of my male clients that are drinking Kombucha have also started taking herbs to further help with their prostate problems. For some, a few weeks of taking Saw Palmetto is all that is required. The compounds in Saw Palmetto have demonstrated a remarkable ability to inhibit DHT, the hormone that causes prostate inflammation. Saw palmetto does not change the level of testosterone or other hormones in the blood, but it does stop tissues, especially those in the prostate, from utilizing it. In fact, this herb is about 25 times stronger than `cyproterone', a once common prostate anti inflammation and cancer drug now considered too toxic for non cancerous conditions.
KEEP THE IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY WITH THESE:
First of all, drink Kombucha! 4 ounces a day, every day to build and maintain a healthy immune system.
Some herbs that will help to maintain a healthy immune system are:
WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ON PROSTATE HEALTH
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Bethesda, MD 20892
Prostate health Council
The American Foundation for Urologic Disease, Inc.
300 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
National Institute on Aging Information Center
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
Cancer Information Service (CIS)
National Cancer Institute
Building 31, Room 10A24
Bethesda, MD 20892
HELPFUL SUPPLEMENTS FOR PROSTATE HEALTH
HELPFUL HERBS FOR THE PROSTATE
PROSTATE REDUCING TINCTURE
Several of my clients are reporting great results from the following tincture that I make in the shoppe.
Combine the following:
1 ounces of tincture of Saw Palmetto berries
_ ounce each of the following tinctures:
Wild yam root
Pipsissewa or UvaUrsi leaves
Take _ dropper full, three times a day. To maintain
prostate health, take one dose a day.
TESTIMONIAL - From Robin in Australia
I suffered for 10 years (that is 45 to 55 years of age) from what the main-stream fraternity diagnosed as prostatitis. The symptoms varied but at their worst, resulted in lower back pains, lethargy, feeling generally ill and everything being just too much effort.
Various doctors and specialists over the years prescribed a variety of medications, usually antibiotics which didn't cure and caused a host of other problems.
Having lost faith in the establishment, I sought help elsewhere, trying acupuncture, iridology, magnetic therapy, magnetic water and homeopathy.
What made me feel even more despondent was the fact the I endeavored to lead a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, bicycle riding, no smoking, no drinking of alcohol and a balanced diet. All, apparently, to no avail! Then someone suggested that I try the "Manchurian Mushroom" also known as "Kombucha".
That was 10 months ago. I now have the energy to go on cycle tours, my self esteem has returned, and thankfully, none of my previous symptoms of prostatitis..
I only wish that I'd known about Kombucha all those years ago!
TESTIMONIAL - Enlarged prostate
It's been a year since I first talked with you about Kombucha. If you'll recall, I was very embarrassed when you asked me if I had any health problems. At that time I had been suffering with an enlarged prostate and reoccurring infections for nearly 4 years. That was just not something I wanted to talk about but I finally gave in and discussed it with you and you suggested that I start on Kombucha and the Prostate Tincture. Well, I'm pleased to report that I feel better than I have in years. I suspect that the Kombucha is giving me more energy so that I am back to bike riding and walking (actually hiking) again. Consequently, I've lost 15 pounds that I didn't need. No more getting up in the middle of the night to use the `facilities' and no more discomfort. Now, I'm not sure which one of these `elixirs' is responsible - so I'm staying with both of them. I have however cut back to the `maintenance' dosage of the tincture, while increasing my daily intake of Kombucha (up to 12 ounces a day). Well, you asked for a progress report - and there you have it.
Sincerely, Walter B.
Harmonic Harvest Products
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