Use of herbs won’t shrink enlarged prostate, say urologists

Physicians say men with enlarged prostate, who have resorted to taking local herbs and other natural remedies to shrink it instead of visiting the hospital for appropriate treatment, are exposing themselves to more health problems.

The medical practitioners in the field of urology said the use of herbs won’t shrink enlarged prostate, stressing that there is no scientific evidence to support such claim in the management and treatment of prostate enlargement.

The urologists urged men battling with prostate enlargement to seek appropriate care and from experts

According to the American Urological Association, prostate enlargement is so common that it has been said that all men will have an enlarged prostate if they live long enough.

The urological association noted that a small amount of prostate enlargement is present in many men over age 40, adding that more than 90 per cent of men over age 80 have the condition.

While noting that the causes of prostate enlargement are not clear, AUA stated that it mainly occurs in older men, and hormone changes are thought to play a role.

It added, “Hormones from the testis may be the main factor. For example, as men age, the amount of active testosterone in the blood declines. Estrogen levels stay the same. BPH may occur when these hormone changes trigger prostate cell growth.”

Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise, the urologists maintained that the use of local herbs to shrink an enlarged prostate could be hazardous if the patient has an undiagnosed cancer.

They explained that the active ingredients in these herbs could stimulate the growth of cancer cells, making the condition worse.

The experts urged patients to always consult with a medical professional before taking any type of herb or supplement, as the risks can outweigh the potential benefits.

A Consultant Urologist, Dr. Gabriel Ogah, said while certain local herbs could help shrink enlarged prostate , the active chemicals in the herbs might have harmful consequences on the body.

Ogah, Managing Director, Ogah Hospital and Urology Centre, Fugar, Edo State, noted that it is important to do a medical check-up to ascertain the prostate enlargement is not cancerous.

He stressed that using local herbs to shrink the prostate when it is cancerous can make the cancer grow and spread faster.

While revealing that local herbs can help shrink the prostate by about 50 per cent, the physician added that using modern drugs can shrink it by about 75 per cent.

Giving insight into how effective local herbs are, the urologist said, “Yes it is true local herbs can shrink prostate enlargement, but to what extent?

“There are people who take local herbs to shrink their prostate, but they are not as effective as the modern drugs.

“The only danger in using local herbs is because if you are using local herbs, you don’t go to hospital. You do not know whether it is prostate cancer or enlargement. You use local herbs to treat the prostate if it is not prostate cancer.

“If it is cancer, treating it with local herbs, you are doing yourself a disservice because the cancer will be growing and spreading.

“So, when taking the approach, they still need to go and see the doctor to know whether it is cancer or not. If it is not cancer, you can use local herbs with some effect if the person is poor, but modern drugs are better at shrinking the prostate.

“Modern drugs can do it up to 75 per cent. It is not all local herbs because some are not effective, some are effective.”

On the potential side effects of using local herbs, the urologist added, “Of course, there are many side effects, because you don’t know all that they contain. When people are giving you local herbs, they may give you only one particular herb, some herbalists mix it with other ones, and therefore you don’t know all the side effects.

“If you want to use local herbs, first of all, go and make sure they diagnose the prostate properly to make sure there is no cancer in it.

“And if you are using the local herb, ensure that when you are taking it once in a while, you go and test yourself to make sure they are working or no other things are going wrong in your body.

“You know, normally when urologists treat patients with prostate, there are a lot of precautions. You do a test before you put the person on drugs. When the person is on drugs, it comes to meet you to find out if there are any side effects. There is no drug in this world, whether it is herbal or modern medicine that has no side effects.

“My advice to people is if they think they have it, they should go to the hospital so that they are properly treated.”

On his part, a senior Registrar in the Urology division of the surgical department at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Adebowale Oyebade said there is no evidence that local herbs can be used to reduce prostate enlargement.

The physician argued that the prostate can only be shrunk either by using modern drugs or surgery.

While revealing that taking medications can be a lifelong process of reducing prostate enlargement, the urologist said shrinking it through surgery is faster and more effective.

He added, “There are medications for it that shrink the prostate, that will be after you must have taken it for some couple of time. There are ways you monitor it, you know the size. Then by the time you start the medication, you can use that as a measurement so far you already have a baseline before you start.

“Then after a couple of months, you can check to see how the reduction is going. If the reduction is not as you want, or there are some other reasons you may now be given the option of surgery.

“Or the patient is not somebody that likes taking drugs because of course the drug is lifelong—the fact that it is prostate enlargement and it’s giving the person problems with urinating. Of course, when you are on medications, it’s going to be lifelong. If the person says I am not ready to be consuming any medication, then you can now do the surgery option.

“The surgery does not necessarily mean that you have to cut the person open. Not necessarily. Depending on the size. You can do what we call minimally invasive surgeries. That means you’re not cutting the person open, you pass an instrument to the penis. You get to the prostate so you can shrink the prostate.

“Basically what you are trying to do is because of the enlargement that will reduce the channel through which urine comes out. So by the time you shrink, you create a channel for the urine to come out. That’s what the surgery is all about.

“Anyway, I am not aware of any local herb that can be used to shrink it. Even the orthodox one; for every drug, even your common paracetamol, when you overtake it, when you overuse it, there is a possible complication that comes with it.

“So even the drugs, the orthodox drugs that are used, there are some side effects that you see the patient have while using this medication, there are chances you may experience this and that.
“Taking this herbal or that, you don’t know what the ingredients are. And the fear is what harm that will have on their kidney. That’s a major fear. What harm that will have on the kidney.”

Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Urology found that men who took herbal supplements to treat enlarged prostate experienced serious side effects.

The study examined 20 men who took a supplement containing saw palmetto, pygeum, and pumpkin seed oil. The men experienced urinary retention, urinary tract infections, and sexual dysfunction.

The researchers discovered that men who took the herbal supplement experienced a significant increase in urinary retention, urinary tract infections, and sexual dysfunction. These side effects were not seen in the control group who did not take the supplement.

Additionally, the men in the study reported a decrease in quality of life. The researchers concluded that further studies are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of herbal supplements for treating an enlarged prostate.

The researchers concluded that herbal supplements should not be used to treat enlarged prostate, as they can cause serious side effects.


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