Prostate Health through Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

From birth to young adulthood, the prostate grows from about the size of a pea to about the size of a walnut. Most men experience a second period of prostate growth in their mid- to late 40s. At this time, cells in the central portion of the gland – where the prostate surrounds the urethra – begin to reproduce more rapidly. As tissues in the area enlarge, they often compress the urethra and partially block urine flow. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the medical term for this condition. It should be noted that the prostate may also become enlarged due to bacterial infection, the term used for this condition is acute or chronic bacterial prostatitis. There is also another non-bacterial form of chronic prostatitis which is actually more common than its counterpart, the cause for it is unknown.Prostate enlargement affects about half of men in their 60s and up to 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s. The presence or absence of prostate gland enlargement is not related to the development of prostate cancer.Conventional treatment depends on your signs and symptoms and may include medications, surgery or non-surgical therapies such as acupuncture, herbs, and nutritional supplements.Signs & Symptoms
Prostate enlargement varies in severity from man to man, and doesn’t always pose a problem. Only about half the men with prostate enlargement experience signs and symptoms that become noticeable or bothersome enough for them to seek medical treatment. These signs and symptoms may include:*Weak urine stream
*Difficulty starting urination
*Stopping and starting again while urinating
*Dribbling at the end of urination
*Frequent need to urinate
*Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia)
*Urgent need to urinate
*Not being able to completely empty the bladder
*Blood in the urine (hematuria)
*Urinary tract infection
*Pain in the lower abdomen
*Discomfort during ejaculation
*Fever and chills (infection)Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine generally sees the condition of prostate enlargement as an accumulation of Dampness and Heat in the lower portion of the torso (low Jiao), or as cold that has entered the Liver channel, quite often accompanied by a Kidney deficiency as an underlying root. This condition gives rise to all the troubling urinary symptoms listed above. Acupuncture, moxibustion, and laser acupuncture displays good results in helping restore normal urinary function (Luo YN et al. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion), and Chinese herbal therapy has been shown to eliminate the root causes of prostate enlargement. Together, Chinese herbal medicine and Acupuncture are an important choice in overcoming the battle with prostate enlargement. In one study, electro-acupuncture was also shown to help chronic prostatitis cases that were unresponsive to conventional therapies (Ikeuchi T, Iguchi H).Treatments with acupuncture (traditional, electro, laser) and moxibustion (heat therapy) are usually once per week unless there is considerable pain 2-3 treatments per week for 1-3 weeks may be warranted. Chinese herbal therapy will be administered in the form of daily tea, pills, powders, or drops. Some nutritional supplements and western herbal therapy may also be recommended. Diet will also be reviewed from a traditional energetic point of view to help eliminate anything that may be aggravating the prostate condition.Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis
The most recent scientific research claims that chronic non-bacterial prostatitis has unknown etiology (the cause is not known). This is an unfortunate situation considering it is more common that it’s infectious counterparts, acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis.Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the pelvic region or CPPS (chronic pelvic pain syndrome), some low back pain, frequent urination, and an unfinished feeling after urination. There is usually no history of urinary tract infections (as in bacterial prostatitis), no redness, and patients do not obtain symptomatic relief with antibiotics.There also seems to be more of a feeling of ‘cold’ (rather than ‘heat’ which would be associated with the infectious bacterial prostatitis). It should also be noted that emotional problems such as depression and erectile dysfunction more often than not accompany this chronic condition and should be properly diagnosed and treated.Treatment Studies and Research
Some men say they find relief with NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), although this is an avenue that cannot be undertaken forever as they suppress the immune system.The Merck manual is quoted saying that hot sitz baths and prostate massage are two of the best ways to provide symptomatic relief.A recent study showed the benefits of alternative therapies including phytotherapy (quercetin, bee pollen) and physical therapies such as acupuncture (Shoskes and Manickam, dept. or Urology Cleveland Clinic Florida). The relief from acupuncture displayed that there is a neuromuscular component to chronic prostatitis. This is further proven in another study done by Chen and Nickel at the King Street Medical Arts Centre in Mississauga Ontario Canada where acupuncture successfully ameliorated symptoms in men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.Another study performed by Chen, Gao, Liu, and Shen at Zhejiang College Hangzhou showed promise with the use of laser acupuncture.Other herbal supplementation has received scientific recognition as of late; pygeum for urinary symptoms, saw palmetto and quercetin for pain, and beta-sitosterol to aid with urinary flow.Moxibustion, a form of heat therapy used with acupuncture has also shown improvement in patients that participated in a study at Fushun Municipal Hospital, and another showed significant improvement at Nanjing Medical University when a combination of antibiotics and acupuncture were used in the treatment of CPPS and chronic prostatitis.Years of empirical evidence also gives hope to those that seek out the aid of a qualified Chinese herbal medicine practitioner.

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