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Do You Have an Enlarged Prostate? Try Flower Pollen

As men get older, especially around the 40-year mark, their prostates may begin to enlarge.

A larger prostate increases the risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), which causes many unpleasant symptoms, including trouble controlling urine flow, a constant urge to use the bathroom, waking up with the strong urge to use the bathroom, and feeling like your bladder is not empty after urinating.

Treatment of BPH usually involves medication and/or invasive surgery, but research is showing that flower pollen may actually help to naturally ease your symptoms.

Flower Pollen Improves BPH Symptoms

A study from the DVA Coordinating Center of the Cochrane Review Group Disease and Urologic Malignancies showed promising prostate health improvement. Specifically, it viewed the effects of rye grass pollen extract with symptomatic BPH.

The review chose randomized, controlled trials that had patients treated for BPH with flower pollen, and had a control group of either a placebo or drug therapy. The researchers further refined the pool by filtering out and removing any studies shorter than 30 days, since natural treatments tend to take longer before improvements are shown, leading to less side effects.

In total, four trials were selected for a total of 444 male subjects. Each study was between 12 and 24 weeks long. Results confirmed the idea that flower pollen improved urinary symptoms compared to the groups that used placebo or other plant products.

Flower pollen helped reduce nighttime urination and improved flow, but did not improve the actual size of the prostate itself. As the researchers point out, using flower pollen on enlarged prostates is more about symptom control than size reduction.

A Well-Rounded Natural Treatment for Enlarged Prostate

Of course, any of these treatments should not be used as a standalone prostate treatment, but rather used alongside other nutrients that help the prostate. In addition to saw palmetto, which can reduce symptoms and size by as much as 50 percent, you can also include isoflavones, lignans, and lycopene.

To reduce the size of an enlarged prostate, you can try Pygeum, an African herb that has been shown to help treat both size and symptoms. Another great combination is stinging nettles (a form of nettles that burns when you touch it) and saw palmetto. Mixed together, these two compounds have been shown to be as strong as Finasteride, a drug used for BPH, without the harsh side effects.

Enlarged prostates are the result of estrogen. As you age, testosterone levels slow down while estrogen continues to build up. Utilizing nutrients like lignans that can limit estrogen production help address the root of the problem. By utilizing several of these prostate-improving nutrients along with flower pollen, you can take a multi-pronged, natural approach to help relieve your enlarged prostate symptoms.

In the accompanying audio segment, Dr. Mike discusses BPH and how you can use flower pollen to naturally ease your symptoms.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 27, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Healthy Talk with Dr. Michael Smith, MD. And now, here's the country doctor with the city education, Dr. Mike:

M: So, if any of my male listeners are out there today who have an enlarged prostate, you might want to consider flower pollen as something to add to your enlarged prostate treatment regimen. If you're not a man and you're a woman listening, here's your trivia question for the day:

Do women have prostate glands?

It's a trick question. I'll give you that answer at the end.

Okay. By the way, flower pollen is becoming more and popular in the industry. It should. I think it does have some merit, especially in urinary issues, prostate issues, stuff like that. Be careful, though. I think some manufacturers of flower pollen are getting a little carried away with all the other benefits. It's kind of becoming the next "cure all" miracle thing. Come on. Let's not get into that.

But, there is some good research in flower pollen when it comes to prostate health and urinary health. So, this came from the DVA Coordinating Center of the Cochrane Review Group Disease and Urologic Malignancies in 2012. I think it's a bi-annual report that they put out. So, the objective of this study was to review the evidence for the clinical effects and safety of rye grass pollen extract in men with symptomatic, benign prostatic hyperplasia. That's your common BPH. By the way, we forget sometimes that grass is part of the flowering plant kingdom.

I mean, there's...You know, when you think of the plant kingdom, you basically have seeds and spores. That's the big breakdown of the plant kingdom. Then, those plants that have seeds are broken up into flowering and non-flowering. I mean, that's the basic. That's pretty much all the botany I remember. So, there's seeds versus spores and then within the seed category, there's flowering plants versus non-flowering plants. The grasses fall under the flowering plants. We forget that. They do flower. So, in this case, they were using rye grass pollen. What they did is--this was, again, a review.

So, they were looking back at a bunch of different studies. They chose randomized controlled trials that included men with symptomatic BPH who were treated with the flower pollen and had a control group of either a placebo or a drug therapy. So, in some cases, they were looking at flower pollen versus a drug which is pretty cool. They were looking at studies that were longer than 30 days which is good, again. Remember, I just talked about the importance of giving natural compounds more time and not to study them exactly like a drug. So, that's good. I don't have the total number of studies that they used, but I do have the total number of people.

It was 444 men in two placebo controlled studies and 2 comparative trials. So, 4 trials total, 444 men in this medi-analysis. The average time was between 12-24 weeks. So, that's good. I like that. What they found was that the flower pollen improved self-rated urinary symptoms versus placebo and other plant products. The flower pollen reduced nighttime urination compared with placebo and the flower pollen, though, and this is an important point. It really didn't improve the size of the prostate gland, itself, though. So, what you have here is the compounds in flower pollen improving urination and urinary flow, but not necessarily any of the size of the prostate gland. So, it's really about symptom control here, when it comes to flower pollen.

You know, at the Life Extension Foundation, we have a really nice prostate formula that we added flower pollen, maybe about 2 years ago right before this study came out and we based it off some of the smaller reviews that they're looking here. So, it's nice to see that this was put together in a nice collection. And, we were right. We were right to put flower pollen in a prostate formula, but flower pollen by itself is not, at least based on these results here, is really not, by itself, a standalone prostate ingredient. Instead, it can be used in conjunction with some other prostate nutrients to help urinary flow and the size of the prostate. By itself, it's not going to affect the size of the prostate.

So, what are some of the classic prostate nutrients that we like to use? Number one, would be saw palmetto. There was a pilot study examining the effects of 320 mg of saw palmetto and they found that it was able to reduce BPH symptoms by over 50% at 8 weeks. That was published in Phytotherapy Research in 2013. That's probably your "go to" prostate nutrient right there, saw palmetto. It blocks 5 alpha reductase which is the enzyme that makes DHT. You see, the problem with an enlarged prostate is not testosterone. It's the fact that the testosterone turns into a more potent form called dihydrotestosterone, DHT. If you can block that conversion that helps with prostate issues.

Also, more research is showing that enlarged prostates are a result of estrogen. So, as a man gets older, we lose testosterone. Why? Well, we stop making it. At least, we make it less. And, what we do make gets turned into DHT and estrogen. So, our free testosterone drops. Estrogen goes up. DHT goes up and that's when the prostate issues happen.

Beta Sitosterol is another classic prostate nutrient from the Cochrane Database Systemic Review of 2000. There was a review of 4 studies looking at 519 men with BPH. Beta Sitosterol improved urinary symptoms and urinary measures. So, that's another classic one with saw palmetto. Pygeum is an herb from Africa that also has been shown to help with prostate size and urinary symptoms from the Journal of Urology, 2008. Stinging nettles is another classic.

By the way, nettles is a plant. There is a form of the plant called "stinging nettles" that actually does sting. If you touch it, it burns. It's true. That's why it's called stinging nettles. A study found that a combination of saw palmetto with stinging nettles was as effective as the drug, Finasteride, which is a very common 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. When you use Finasteride, you block the production of DHT, so you grow some hair on your head and you decrease prostate size. Turns out, stinging nettles and saw palmetto is just as good as the drug. Of course, the natural compounds were much more tolerated.

As a matter of fact, they concluded in the British Journal of Urology, 2000, that the herbal combination had fewer side effects than the drug. There you go. Other prostate nutrients would be isoflavones and lignins. Isoflavones are plant-based compounds and kind of really ubiquitous throughout the plant kingdom. Supplemented with isoflavones has been shown to reduce PSA levels in men with prostate cancer. Lignins are something I talk about a lot. Lignins are a form of a plant fiber.

Again, ubiquitous throughout the plant kingdom. Lignins help to reduce estrogen production, improve estrogen metabolism in the liver, so even though it may not necessarily bring down estrogen, you tend to make or produce more healthy estrogens. That's for men and women. So, lignins can help women when it comes to breast health and ovarian health. It can also help men when it comes to prostate health. So, combinations. You're going to see this more and more of isoflavones and lignins together in treating prostate. Then, of course, there's lycopene. Lycopene is the chemical compound that gives the tomato its red hue. It's a carotenoid. Men with higher lycopene levels in their blood suggesting greater dietary lycopene consumption are less likely to develop prostate cancer. That was a great study by Dr. Gann in 1999. It kind of started the whole lycopene revolution.

It's just a carotenoid, so it's good for other parts of your body as well, but lycopene is pretty classic. Then, pumpkin seed oil is another good one for urinary health. You can add to this, so in my opinion, a good prostate formula, because an enlarged prostate is multifactorial, should include all those plus maybe flower pollen.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.

Alonso is a long-time health and wellness advocate who loves to write about it. His writing spans the scope of blogs, educational magazines, and books, both on and offline.