A Powerful Approach to Prostate Health
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.
Prostate health can become a serious issue for men in middle age. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in men, with nearly 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, the core imbalances, according to Maharishi Ayurveda, 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.
According to the texts of ayurveda, 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, irritate 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. 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 — a primary tendency in the mind and body, according to Maharishi Ayurveda — 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.
Also, when Shleshaka Kapha is mixed with ama, it creates a sticky, toxic mixture called shleshma. This condition is a common factor in imbalanced cell production. When combined with the problem of ama spreading to the tissues, then the cell production becomes abnormal, and the prostate grows abnormally large.
Maharishi Ayurveda's approach is 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. This aims to stop ama from being produced; strengthen the immune system; cleanse the urine and nutrient fluid; and cleanse the blood, muscle and fat tissues of ama; and purify Shleshaka Kapha of shleshma.
Here are ten tips from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians for a balanced prostate:
- Drink lots of water throughout the day, in between meals. This keeps 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. Here's a recipe: Boil two quarts of water and put the water in a thermos flask. Add three leaves of holy basil, ⅓ t. fennel seed, ¼ t. coriander seed, and six white pumpkin seeds or six fresh cucumber seeds. Keep drinking this water throughout the day, but stop drinking it after 7:00 p.m. Stay away from fluids at night if you have a prostate problem, as a full bladder at night can cause pressure on the prostate and disturb your sleep with the need to get up frequently to urinate.
- 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. These foods 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.
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.