Q:My doctor informs me that my prostate is in a state of benign prostatic hypertrophy, which I have had for most of my adult life. (I am now 70 years old.) Do nutrient supplements help, such as zinc, EFAs, amino acids, raw glandular extracts or ginseng, copper and B6? All of the above are recommended as a supplement treatment. R. C. W., Dyfed.......
A:"Benign prostatic hypertrophy" is a fancy term for an enlarged prostate, the gland at the base of the bladder, which affects about half of all men over 50 and virtually all men over 80. Mainly this problem interferes with urination. What usually happens is that the person feels an initial, urgent desire to pass water, but has difficulty starting and stopping. It also tends to increase the frequency of urination, making him get up several times in the night.Doctors tend to prescribe alpha blockers like prazosin (Hypovase) or indoramin (Doralese), ordinarily used for high blood pressure. They tend to shrink the obstruction, allow more urine to be passed and lessen the need to urinate at night. Although the most common side effects are mild and transient, they can increase heart rate, cause fainting, aggravate angina, cause impotence, depression, hallucinations, blurred vision, hypotension (sudden loss in blood pressure) and hair loss. And of course all these side effects are enhanced in older people, which prostate sufferers almost always are.
Several of our nutritional experts say that men with frequent prostate problems do tend to have essential fatty acid and zinc deficiencies. Although the EFA and zinc regimes have mainly benefitted men with an infected prostate there is some evidence that it has helped an enlarged prostate too.
To get all your EFAs, you should take a 10-15 ml mix of safflower oil and linseed or walnut oil twice a day, with 50 mg of zinc last thing at night, although with that level of zinc it is prudent to have a doctor experienced in nutritional medicine monitor you and your progress.
I would be grateful to hear from the alternative practitioners among our subscribers about any alternative treatments of this common and troublesome problem among older men.