There is a new wave of support for men’s health in North America. Much of it is from the shared experience of how healthy your own father was and the impact on the child’s psyche as well as on the entire family. As a result of this awareness and acknowledgment, men are more interested in taking care of their health. One of the features of ‘men’s health’ is how important prostate health is and that is the topic of this article. I will give some background on common prostate problems and some nature-based treatment approaches from the perspective of a naturopathic doctor.

Statistics on Prostate Problems

Men in the United States have a 1 in 7 chance of developing prostate cancer and for Canadian men it’s 1 in 8. The prostate can also be affected by a benign though symptomatically bothersome enlargement that is not cancer-related – this is called benign prostate hypertrophy/hyperplasia (BPH), which affects approximately 50% of men over 50 years and 80% of those over 80.

Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Problems

Not all men will experience prostate-related symptoms, but the common symptoms to be informed about include the following:

• Frequent urination
• Urgent desire to urinate
• Taking longer to urinate
• Difficulty starting to urinate
• Leakage of urine (incontinence)
• Waking more than once to urinate
• Blood in the urine
• Painful urination

Naturopathic Perspectives

There are several common themes when it comes to trying to understand why prostate diseases happen: nutritional deficiency, hormonal changes, oxidative stress, toxic exposures, varicose veins in the local area, infections, prostate inflammation, lifestyle factors, etc. Some important points are detailed below for what natural medicine can offer.

Importance of diet and nutrition – we know that higher vegetable content is associated with a lower likelihood of developing prostate cancers and generally improves inflammation and reduces oxidative stress. Researchers involved in the North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project published a study this year in the British Journal of Nutrition – the research found that those with the higher dietary antioxidant intake had the least oxidative stress among men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Utilizing this same database of patients, other researchers found that those who ate higher dietary and supplemental sources of vitamin E had the least aggressive forms of prostate cancer in European Americans – this was published in the medical journal, The Prostate. Diets higher in the carotenoid compound, lycopene, were also associated with the least aggressive prostate cancer types. Other dietary factors associated with prostate health include cruciferous vegetables, vegetable fats and coffee. The Mediterranean diet is seen as an overall healthy diet, focusing on vegetables, herbal seasonings, whole grains and legumes, fruit, seeds, nuts, fish and low-moderate amounts of meat; this approach to eating provides good sources of a range of diet-related antioxidants and carotenoids.

Nutritional relationships – selenium is an important mineral which has antioxidant effects in the body. A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Urology International concluded that the risk of benign prostate hypertrophy may be associated with low blood levels of selenium. It is important to make sure your selenium levels are adequate. Good dietary sources are Brazil nuts and mushrooms. I commonly recommend moderate dose selenium supplementation.

Lifestyle factors – not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and maintaining regular physical exercise benefit the health of the prostate

Environmental lifestyle – studies have shown that laboratory animals exposed to the hormonal disrupting chemical, bisphenol A, develop hormonal changes that are known to occur in prostate disease. Avoiding such chemicals may be useful in improving prostate health. Another study published this year in the journal Environment International by Canadian researcher found that men who lived closest to greener, or more vegetative surroundings, had a lower risk of having prostate cancer. There seems to be a clear association between a clean environment with a range of good health outcomes including a healthy prostate.

Herbal support – a herb commonly used for an enlarged prostate is Saw Palmetto, several studies have shown that it can protect the prostate tissue from oxidative stress, as well as improve urinary symptoms common in prostate enlargement. The common Mediterranean herb, rosemary, has beneficial effects on the prostate as described by research published in the 2013 journal, Frontiers in Pharmacology. Several herbs may also be beneficial such as nettle, crocus.

About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or