An Ayurvedic View on Prostate Health
Prostate health can become a serious issue for men in their middle age. According to recent statistics, prostate enlargement is found in 50% of American men in their sixties, and up to 90% of men in their seventies and eighties. Worse, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in men, with about 80% of all cases of prostate cancer occurring in men over sixty-five.
Even though the prostate seems to be an older man's health problem, these imbalances begin much earlier in life. The good news is that following an appropriate diet and routine and taking appropriate herbal supplements can all help keep the prostate healthy and functioning well.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
There are many reasons why prostate problems develop. One is overuse of Shukra Dhatu, or overuse of the sexual organs. Another is lack of adequate fluids in the body, due to not drinking enough water during the day. Habitually suppressing the natural urge to urinate also can, over time, cause the urine to become more concentrated and, in turn, irritates the prostate.
Even your job can be a source of imbalance. If you have to sit for long periods of time without taking a break or stretching, this can create an imbalance in the reproductive area of the body. Not getting daily exercise, or eating a diet that creates impurities (ama) in the body, are other causes of prostate problems. If your diet does not contain spices that purify the urine daily (such as turmeric, cumin and fennel), that can also cause toxins to build up that lead to imbalances or infection.
Finally, if you don't have a healthy daily routine — for instance, if you watch TV late at night or for other reasons don't sleep enough, or if you don't eat meals on time or your routine is very irregular — that can also cause ama to build up and disturb the immune system.
One main factor tying all the above together is ama. Ama refers to the sticky impurities that are created when digestion is weak and food is not digested completely. Now, aging itself can create some weakening of the digestion, but most ama is created by poor dietary and lifestyle habits already mentioned — eating foods that are old and heavy, or eating meals at irregular times of the day.
Vata dosha increases as we age. The later part of life is actually known as the Vata Kala (or Vata time of life) in Maharishi Ayurveda. Because Vata dosha is irregular, dry, and moving by nature, it can cause the digestion to become more irregular. This contributes to more ama being produced and spreading to the tissues.
If the person also has an imbalance in Shleshaka Kapha (the subdosha of Kapha that governs lubrication of the joints, body fluids, and moisture balance in the skin), and ama is accumulating in the body fluids due to dietary mistakes, then Shleshaka Kapha and ama gets mixed with urine, creating a more irritated situation and further weakening the immune system.
The Ayurvedic Solution
Maharishi Ayurveda tries to support health on all fronts: by balancing Apana Vata, the subdosha of Vata related to the downward flow of energy such as occurs with urination; stopping ama from being produced; strengthening the immune system; cleansing the urine and nutrient fluid; cleansing the blood, muscle and fat tissues of ama; and cleansing Shleshaka Kapha of shleshma.
Here are ten tips from The Council, Director of Research and Development at Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, Inc., for a balanced prostate:
- Drink lots of water throughout the day, in between meals. This will keep the urine from becoming too concentrated. If you add some herbs to the water, it will flush out toxins, dissolve ama in the blood tissue and help purify the urine.
- Each time you urinate, take the necessary time to empty your bladder completely. Because the urethra (the passageway through which the urine drains from the body) is already narrow, when there is some enlargement of the prostate, the urinary channel becomes even narrower. If you are in too much of a hurry, all of the urine might not be drained from the bladder. This is not a good thing, because the urine becomes more concentrated if it is not drained from the bladder each time you urinate. So take the time to empty the bladder completely.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, because it creates imbalances in the blood tissue, as does caffeine. Both of these create abnormal urine production and irritate the bladder as well.
- If you have to sit all day at your job, take short breaks frequently and try to stretch or take a short walk. This will restore the normal flow of energy, blood, and nutrient fluid to the prostate area.
- When the weather is cold, take care to keep your head, neck, and body warm. If your body temperature drops, it leads to urine retention, which aggravates the prostate. So keep your body temperature in a moderate range.
- Make sure that your bowel movements are regular. Constipation creates an obstruction in Apana Vata, in turn creating pressure on the prostate, increasing ama in the blood tissues, and creating excessive dryness in the whole area. To help with regular elimination, try having a stewed apple in the morning for breakfast with stewed figs, raisins, or prunes. You can also add more fiber and cooked vegetables to your diet, and have 2-4 teaspoons of psyllium seed husk with warm milk or water at night before going to bed. If these measures don't work, take 2-4 Herbal Cleanse capsules with water before bed.
- Daily abhyanga, or oil massage, pacifies Apana Vata, and that is always good. Massage the hands and feet, in particular, as an effective preventative. Use Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Men, which contains herbs and oils to rejuvenate the male physiology.
- If you are having trouble sleeping at night, be sure to correct the underlying imbalance. If you are not able to fall asleep, take Blissful Sleep for Vata imbalance that causes this problem. If you wake up between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. with lots of energy, this is a Pitta imbalance, and Deep Rest can help.
- Eat foods that are tri-doshic, which means that they pacify all three doshas. These include soaked walnuts and soaked almonds. Avoid foods that aggravate any one of the doshas: food that is too dry, too oily, too greasy, too cold or too hot, too spicy or not spicy enough. Avoid extremes.
- Include lots of sweet, juicy fruits in your diet, as these help nourish the Rasa Dhatu (the nutrient fluid), purify the urine and help maintain a healthy flow of urine. They also create ojas, improving immunity and enhancing cellular intelligence. If stewed or cooked until they are soft, they are not only pacifying to Apana Vata, but also to Pitta dosha. They make an ideal breakfast when combined with prunes, figs, and raisins. If you have a Kapha imbalance, you can eat sweet, juicy fruits raw, but even then you should avoid eating raw fruit after sunset, as the digestion is not as strong after the sun goes down.
Prostate Protection: Balanced, Synergistic Nutritional Support
There are two main herbal ingredients in the Prostate Protection formula. These are Kachnar (Orchid tree or Bauhinia variegata) and Guggul (Indian Bedellium). Kachnar is a famous herb for maintaining prostate health and function in Maharishi Ayurveda. Both have a specific effect in clearing ama from the blood, muscle, and fat tissue, and help maintain the normal size of the prostate gland by supporting balanced cell production.
Other herbs enhance the flow of urine, and ease irritation and burning. White Sandalwood, Small Caltrops (Tribulus), Heart-leaved Moonseed (Indian tinospora or Guduchi), and Spreading Hogweed (Boerhavia or Punarnava) are the herbs that support and balance the healthy flow of urine and reduce irritation.
To enhance immunity in the prostate area is the role of Heart-leaved Moonseed (Indian Tinospora), Turmeric, and Zinc. The combination of Guggul and Zinc is a traditional ayurvedic remedy for balancing the size and health of the prostate. Turmeric and Guggul are both effective anti-inflammatory herbs.
Mineral Pitch (Shilajit) and Barley also help in maintaining the purity of the urine. Guduchi, Zinc and Turmeric enhance immunity in the genitourinary tract.
Another group of herbs supports the Shukra Dhatu and maintains testosterone production, including Small Caltrops (Tribulus), Country Mallow (Heart-leaf Sida or Bala), and Shilajit. Bala, and Zinc help balance the amount of testosterone and improve sexual desire. Research has shown that Small Caltrops (Tribulus) has the overall effect of supporting the man's testosterone level.
The overall impact of this nutritional supplement is to prevent imbalances in the prostate, and to support the body's natural intelligence in maintaining prostate health and enhance overall functioning in that area.
Other Herbs to Help
If a man feels that he needs extra help in maintaining Shukra Dhatu and enhancing semen production, he could take Rejuvenation for Men, one tablet twice a day after eating. If you need extra help for the flow and purity of the urine, you could take Organic Genitrac in addition to Prostate Protection. Take one tablet morning and evening. If you need an additional antioxidant support to fight free radicals, take one tablet of Premium Amla Berry with each tablet of Organic Genitrac.
As mentioned earlier, ongoing stress can be an important factor in prostate health, and especially mental stress — in the form of overuse or misuse of the mind — can disturb the immune system and aggravate Apana Vata. For this, you could take Worry Free tablets and Worry Free Tea along with Prostate Protection.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.