Prostate Problem Guide
Over-The-Counter Prostate Medication Can Be Downright Dangerous
We live in an age when the shelves of a variety of stores are overflowing with a huge range of non-prescription medications and with vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies for just about every condition you care to mention. We also live in an age when we're either too busy to take time out to see our doctor or feel very often that the doctor too is a busy man and that we should really try not to bother him unless it's absolutely necessary. As a result, we often tend, as a first line of defense, to cure ourselves and only resort to the doctor when this fails.
When the problem we have is of a "personal" nature, such as problems with our waterworks which we self-diagnose as stemming from the prostate gland, the added factor of embarrassment often increases our desire to seek our own solution in the first instant. For this reason, there are literally thousands of men today who are purchasing over-the-counter herbal remedies, such as saw palmetto or pygeum, and in many cases swearing by them. However, there are two main problems with herbal remedies of this nature.
The first problem is that they do not require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and are therefore not required to undergo the rigorous testing that would be applied to prescription drug. This often means that there is little evidence to support the effective use of many herbal remedies or that the evidence that is available is questionable. That is not to say that many of the herbal remedies do not work, it simply means that there is frequently little real evidence of their effectiveness. It also means that the side-effects of such remedies are not fully understood or reported and that nobody really knows what the longer term consequences of taking such remedies might be.
COMPLETE RESPONSE (CR): total disappearance of all evidence of disease using physical examination, laboratory studies and radiologic imaging; a criterion for evaluating the efficacy of a particular anticancer therapy.
GENOMIC INSTABILITY: the instability of genetic material as a result of destructive chemical processes that lead to mutation.
PROSTATECTOMY: surgical removal of part or all of the prostate gland.
UTI (URINARY TRACT INFECTION): an infection identifiable by the presence of bacteria (or theoretically viruses) in the urine; may be associated with fever or a burning sensation on urination.
The second problem is that herbal remedies act in many ways just like prescription drugs, altering the chemical makeup of the body, and this has two specific implications in the case of using herbal remedies to treat prostate problems.
Most men suffer from an enlarged prostate and, in the vast majority of cases, this is more of an annoyance than anything else and is certainly manageable. However, a significant number of men also suffer from prostate cancer and this is invariably discovered by the doctor when the patient presents with the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
For early case cancer, which is where you want to catch the disease and treat it, the best way to detect the presence of prostate cancer is through a blood test for a prostate specific antigen. If, however, the patient has been self-medicating with herbal remedies these will often interfere with the results of the test and may very well result in the presence of prostate cancer going undetected.
In some case, particularly with increasing age, the problems of an enlarged prostate will become more than a simple nuisance and will require medication. Once again, however, if the patient is self-medicating with herbal remedies these may well interfere with drugs prescribed by the doctor.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the use of herbal remedies and many people, including a significant proportion of the medical profession, would support and endorse their use. However, if you decide that you wish to try this particular form of alternative medicine then you should discuss this with your doctor first to ensure that you won't end up doing yourself more harm than good.