Most men hardly know they have a prostate until they reach middle age, when prostate health can become a serious issue. Prostate enlargement is found in 50 percent of American men in their sixties, and up to 90 percent of men in their seventies and eighties. Worse, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in men, with about 80 percent 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 most prostate problems can be prevented by making simple lifestyle and dietary changes to restore balance. In this interview, our Ayurvedic expert provides an in-depth analysis of prostate health from the perspective of Maharishi Ayurveda, and gives practical and effective advice for keeping your prostate healthy throughout life.
Get to Know Your Prostate
Part of the male reproductive system, the prostate is often referred to as a gland, but it’s actually an organ made up of 70 percent glandular and thirty percent fibro-muscular tissue. About the size and shape of a walnut, it’s located directly beneath the bladder and surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that drains the bladder. The prostate secretes a thin, milky substance contained in semen that protects and nourishes the sperm and lubricates the urethra. In Ayurvedic terms, the prostate's secretion supports the flow of Shukra Dhatu, the reproductive tissue.
Why Do Prostate Problems Arise?
There are many reasons why prostate problems can develop. One is overuse of Shukra Dhatu, or overuse of the sexual organs, Ayurvedic experts say. 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 which, in turn, irritates the prostate.
Unfortunately, even your job may be a contributing factor! If you have to sit for long periods of time without taking a break or stretching, it can create an imbalance in the reproductive area of the body. Not getting daily exercise or eating a diet that creates impurities in the body are other causes of prostate problems.
Finally, if your daily routine is a bit erratic—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 less-than-ideal dietary and lifestyle habits.
Aging Plays a Factor in Prostate Health
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 get mixed with urine, creating a more irritated situation and further weakening the immune system.
The Ayurvedic Solution
When it comes to prostate health, the Maharishi Ayurveda approach is to support health on all fronts. This involves 1) preventing ama (toxins) from being produced in the first place, 2) balancing Apana Vata, the subdosha of Vata related to the downward flow of energy associated with urination, 3) strengthening the immune system, 4) cleansing the urine and nutrient fluid, and 5) cleansing the blood, muscle, and fat tissues of ama, among other approaches.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
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. Here's a recipe: Boil two quarts of water and put the water in a thermos flask. Add three leaves of holy basil, 1/3 t. fennel seed, 1/4 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.
2. Empty Your Bladder Completely
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.
3. Eat Foods that are Tri-doshic
Tri-doshic foods 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. Be sure to consume spices that purify the urine daily (such as turmeric, cumin, and fennel). Try our Prostate Health Spice Mix to spice things up!
It’s also helpful to avoid drinking too much alcohol and caffeine, because they create imbalances in the blood tissue
4. Keep Things Moving—in Every Way!
Try to 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 before bed with water.
And don’t forget to exercise! 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.
5. Eat Sweet, Juicy Fruits
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.
- Give Yourself a Daily Massage
Daily abhyanga, or oil massage, pacifies Apana Vata, and that is always good. Massage your 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.
- Get Enough Shut-Eye
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.
Try to 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.
- Stay Warm in Cool Weather
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 try to keep your body temperature in a moderate range.
- Try Some Targeted Ayurvedic Herbs
Sometimes, your body needs a little extra support. Our Prostate Protection formula contains two powerful, key botanicals: kachnar (orchid tree or Bauhinia variegata) and guggul (Indian bdellium). Kachnar is a famous herb for maintaining prostate health and function in Maharishi Ayurveda. Both botanicals have a specific effect in clearing ama from the blood, muscle, and fat tissue, and helping to 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 all herbs that support and balance the healthy flow of urine and reduce irritation. The combination of guggul and zinc is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for balancing the size and health of the prostate, while turmeric and guggul are both traditionally used to support a healthy inflammatory response.
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 testosterone levels.
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 Herbal Formulas to Try
If you need extra help in maintaining Shukra Dhatu and enhancing semen production, Rejuvenation for Men is also helpful. Alternatively, if you need extra help with urine flow, try Organic Genitrac in addition to Prostate Protection. For additional antioxidant support to fight free radicals, take one tablet of Organic 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.
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