Perhaps it is a reflection of the upbringing that most men had, the notion that males are strong and silent, and that boys don't cry. We don't talk about how the rates of prostate cancer are almost exactly the same as rates of breast cancer in women.

One of every seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and one in 38 will die from the disease. No, as we age and our prostates swell, we don’t like to discuss how the plumbing doesn’t work like it used to.

Statue monksIn general, men go to the doctor far less often than women. If we are having a heart attack we think about driving ourselves to the ER. We tough things out; don't make a big deal out of physical discomfort or illness. That's what's expected when you're a man.

Truth is, sooner or later this walnut-sized gland is going to cause some sort of trouble for the vast majority of men. It’s more a matter of “when” than “if.”

By the time we get into our 50s, half of all men will have some enlargement of the prostate and its attendant urinary symptoms. By the time we get into our 70s, 90 percent of us will be dealing with this issue in some way.

There are no non-invasive methods for screening a plump soggy prostate for cancer. The PSA blood markers are a rough gauge at best when it comes to checking on prostate health. It's usually only after a couple of rounds of needle biopsies after a suspicious PSA reading that a man will get a clean, if cautious bill of health about that tender nugget tucked up in our perineum.

Really, it's not something that we men like to talk about.

The side effects of the drugs offered to help regulate prostate-induced urinary problems include headaches, dizziness, decreased libido, abnormal ejaculation, low back and joint pain. And their effectiveness varies from person to person.

The various surgeries and oblations to ream open the plumbing or slice away hypertrophied tissue are something most of us would really rather not consider if other options are available.

What options does Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture offer to men with benign prostate hypertrophy?

The answer is: “It depends.”

Because Chinese medicine views BPH as coming from a number of different imbalances in the body, there is no one treatment that would be right for all men. Much like how the cutting edge of modern medicine is looking at the human genome and recognizing that our unique genetic makeup means we have different strengths and weakness, what would be curative for one person would be useless or even harmful for another.

So too, Chinese medicine has, over the centuries, developed a keen eye for differential diagnoses, tailoring a treatment to an individual's unique constellation of illness and health. There aren't many books in English about using Chinese medicine to treat this aspect of men's health, but there are a plethora of books in Chinese.

In Part II of this series on men's health we will take a look at one of them and discuss some of the various physical and psycho-emotive factors that can lead to prostate issues.

In the meantime, know that Chinese herbal medicine offers formulations that improve urination, shrink swelling and reduce inflammation. There also are others that strengthen the system, thus reducing urinary urgency. Some of these formulations can help to reduce or stabilize abnormal PSA counts. Most importantly, they act naturally, without side effects, to promote proper urinary function.

Would you need to take Chinese herbs for the rest of your life?

(I always find this to be a curious question, as it's so often assumed that it is fine to take a pharmaceutical drug for the rest of your natural-born days.)

Certainly, at the beginning of the treatment process, herbs are required several times a day for at least a few months. But, generally speaking, as the condition improves, taking a smaller maintenance dose of herbs will usually be prescribed.

Acupuncture also brings benefits by relaxing muscles, boosting organ function and improving circulation of blood and fluids in the lower portion of the body. Plus, it helps to reduce anxiety.

Do you have concerns about prostate health? Looking for a natural and safe alternative to surgery and drugs? Give us a call to set up a consultation!

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