This is a placeholder page for a Prostacet review that is going to be coming very soon.
If you’ve been diagnosed with Prostatitis like I had, you certainly understand what it’s like to be “kicked in the you-know-where”. Literally! This is a situation that usually comes as a shock to any man – especially as this is typically the time we’re supposed to be at our peak!!!
Once you’ve gone through those
Done improperly, even casual cycling can cause problems ranging from temporary penile numbness to infertility.
Now hold on. Before all the color drains from your face, keep in mind that simple precautions prevent many of these problems, and most others are easily resolved. Cycling and sex aren’t oil and water. In fact, scientists (and many happy cyclists) believe that spinning your wheels can improve your sex drive.
Before we celebrate this fact–and you can be sure we will–let’s look at 6 of the most common cycling-related problems in the male reproductive system.
To understand this, and most of the other problems we’ll discuss, you must understand the prostate. This walnut-shaped gland has a few purposes.
The prostate has muscles that contract to help squirt 2-4 milliliters of semen (containing 100-600 million sperm) out of the penis during ejaculation. It also helps the sperm swim and keeps them safe by producing lubricating fluids that neutralize vaginal acidity. This secretion and others produced by various organs contain sugars and nutrients for the sperm. They comprise most of the volume of semen (less than 10% is sperm).
The gland lies between the scrotum and anus–the area that has most contact with the saddle. “The prostate is just a finger’s width away when you sit on a bike seat,” says H.R. Safford III, M.D., a Denver urologist.
Constant proximity to the saddle can “bruise” the prostate, says Wayman Spence, a Waco, Texas, M.D. who did just that 8 years ago in the Spenco 500 ride. When this happens, the prostate swells and puts pressure on the nearby perineal, dorsal and pudendal nerves, which feed into the penis. Numbness occurs.
If you stay off the bike, the condition usually disappears within a week with no aftereffects “other than a mild loss of enthusiasm before the next ride,” says Jeffrey York, an M.D. in the division of urology at Ohio State University.
The simplest way to avoid this situation is to stand on the pedals more while riding, or shift your weight around on the saddle. Doing this at least every 30 minutes should minimize the pressure that inflames the prostate. If this doesn’t work, try one of the remedies in the “Quick Fixes” sidebar on page 59.
Also beware of the forward position fostered by an aero bar. If you’re just beginning to use such a model, ease into it. Ride 15-25 minutes (or less) in the aero position, then the same amount in your normal posture before switching back. Even experienced aero bar riders should sit up at least once every hour.
Cyclists who traumatize their prostate might also suffer from urine flow that is frequent, infrequent, bloody, terminally dribbling, or which causes a burning sensation (thankfully not all at once, though).
These symptoms usually arise when the prostate is irritated beyond bruising to full-blown infection, or prostatitis. The infection interferes with the prostate’s ability to monitor the reproductive system’s fluid output, and strange things begin happening. The cure is simple: antibiotics and time off the bike. Two weeks of each is usually enough.
Bloody urine also occurs in endurance events. The kidneys can bleed because they “just work too hard” reabsorbing water, filtering blood, and excreting waste, explains Spence.
And during jarring activities such as mountain biking, the walls of an empty bladder can bump against each other and bleed, says York. (One more reason to stay well hydrated.) Also make sure that when you catch big-time air you don’t catch big-time saddle. In ’86, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a case of “Huffy-Bike Hematuria.” A 13-year-old cyclist had bloody urine because during his BMX jumps he’d bang against the seat, harming his prostate.
Scary as these problems appear, they’re usually harmless displays–smoke bombs as opposed to hand grenades–created by the body to get your attention and warn you to stop an activity that could lead to permanent damage. But these symptoms can also be caused by ailments (such as kidney infection or bladder cancer) that are far more dangerous, even life-threatening. For this reason, it’s best to assume that urinary problems aren’t caused by cycling. See a doctor. If the diagnosis blames your bike, be glad. The only immediate danger is that you’ll get bored because you can’t ride.
If your forced vacation from cycling begins to seem unbearable, just think about how riders used to solve this problem.
Prostate “massage” was one of the primary jobs of pre-World War I urologists. Some folks thought a neglected prostate harbored “bad humors” that built up and contributed to (besides urinary difficulties and numbness) arthritis and even epilepsy. We recognize this as quackery now, yet medical journals of that era advertised self-massaging machines. These devices were similar to stationary bicycles, only with a 4-inch “dildo” on which a person would sit, says York. Pedaling caused the device to massage the prostate through the rectum wall.
BICYCLING occassionally receives letters from guys who, in roundabout and somewhat tentative language, ask if our medical experts know of any condition that might cause male cyclists to ejaculate while riding.
Is there such a condition, or do these guys love cycling more than the rest of us?
York says that the motion of the legs and hips during pedaling can sometimes create an indirect form of prostatic massage. When this happens, the gland is “milked” and emits fluid. It’s not ejaculation (no sperm is delivered from the testicles), just a sticky discharge of the prostate’s lubricating liquid.
The remedy for this leaking, says Safford, is to reduce the fluid pressure inside the prostate with more “masturbation or intercourse.” Tough medicine.
Most males are surprised yet grateful the testicles don’t get traumatized more often in cycling.
Each of these complex organs comprises 275 yards of delicate coiled tubes that make sperm. These seminiferous tubules lead to the epididymis, a 20-foot coiled structure behind each testicle in which sperm mature. The spermatic cord ascends from this coil to the urethra (the tube running from the bladder), through the prostate, and out the penis. The cord contains blood vessels and the vas deferens, the tube that transports sperm (and the one that’s cut in a vasectomy).
Despite the fact that cycling buffets these free-hanging and sensitive organs between pumping thighs, and bounces them on the bike seat, they aren’t harmed. Credit some of this safe passage to bicycle shorts. Like jock straps, they provide some protection by compacting and containing the package.
But in a crash, this same tightness can work against us. Because the scrotum can’t swing freely on impact, it might be more susceptible to injury.
York had a patient whose problem was predictable and mercifully rare. During a crash, one testicle became trapped between saddle and bone. The testicle ruptured, and part of it had to be removed.
No doubt this hurt as much as we imagine it did, but even here the news is relatively good. Losing one testicle in a wreck won’t make you infertile. The other can often supply enough sperm to compensate.
Accidents can damage the reproductive system in other ways. Because the penis extends from the body, it can be hurt during a crash.
York has treated 2 cyclists who fell on their handlebars and damaged the blood vessels in the penis, resulting in the ability to have only a partial erection. An erection happens when these vessels fill with blood and widen. It is maintained by muscles that contract and trap the blood.
In York’s patients, blood entered the vessels but leaked through the damaged artery wall into adjacent veins and back out the penis. This caused partial limpness. After York blocked the damaged artery, the remaining ones worked fine to produce an erection.
IMPOTENCY AND INFERTILITY
This is the big one, the grandaddy of all fears: Can cycling sap your sexual prowess?
Yes, especially if you consider the broadest definition of impotency, which is the “inability to maintain an erection that’s mutually satisfactory for both partners,” says York. In a heterosexual relationship, this wide-ranging term can be applied any time the man either doesn’t get it up or keep it up long enough for intercourse. So technically, any of the problems we’ve discussed could lead to impotency.
This condition affects most men sometime in their lives, says York, but cycling is one of the least-common causes. It’s usually psychological in origin (from stress, anxiety, guilt, depression), or caused by such physical complications as diabetes, alcoholism, or certain medications. Impotency is treatable and almost always temporary.
Infertility is different. It refers to the inability to conceive (15% of couples of childbearing age are infertile). Among the many things that can contribute to male infertility are infections, injuries, a general failure to produce enough sperm, and, yes, cycling.
Evidence is sketchy, but scientists know that under certain conditions cycling, like other endurance sports, can reduce testosterone levels.
Testosterone, a hormone produced in cells between the seminiferous tubules, is responsible for sperm development and male characteristics such as growth of sex organs, distribution of body hair (including baldness), lowering the voice, and muscle growth.
In a study in the August ’91 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Ruddy Dressendorfer, Ph.D., measured testosterone in marathoners who doubled their regular mileage during 15 days of racing. The levels fell 31%. This is consistent with older research involving cyclists, rowers, runners, and swimmers that showed a 20-30% drop in testosterone after intense and prolonged (more that 2 hours) exercise.
Scientists are also beginning to suspect that, aside from sudden training increases, long-term participation in sports such as cycling might also lower testosterone.
In a study to be published this year in Fertility and Sterility, Mary Jane De Souza, Ph.D., checked sperm quality and testosterone in established runners (60-plus miles a week), weight trainers (2-plus hours, 4-plus days a week), and a control group of average men.
In both exercise groups testosterone levels were about 25% lower than the controls. In the runners, sperm count, motility and its ability to penetrate the cervical mucus were lower, and there were more immature sperm cells.
Why such differences? “We don’t know,” says De Souza, who works at the University of Connecticut Health Center. The jarring that occurs during exercise may negatively affect testicle cells. Others theorize that anxiety and stress may influence the part of the brain that regulates the production of testosterone.
One extra problem for cyclists may be that our testicles are hampered inside hot shorts. Testicles need a cool environment to thrive. This is why males have scrotums–to keep testicles cooler than the inner body temperature.
In a follow-up study, Dressendorfer devised what he calls an “antifreeze diaper,” a nylon liner containing a coolant. It keeps things cool throughout an hour of exercise. But even with this twist, testosterone levels still dropped, he says.
Despite the undeniable dive in this important hormone, it’s important to remember that no clear-cut evidence links moderate cycling to infertility.
Also keep in mind that the decreases caused by increased riding seem to be temporary. Testosterone levels return to normal with a week of rest or reduced training. Anyway, the drop-off may not matter. Even with lower testosterone levels, most cyclists are still fertile. Only men whose sperm count is normally low face possible infertility from a further drop.
“It’s important not to send an alarming message,” says Dressendorfer, director of the exercise science laboratory at New Mexico Highlands University. “You can do very heavy training and still be fertile.”
NOW TAKE A DEEP BREATH
And relax. After all the dire warnings, it’s time for perspective.
Although no definite numbers are available, researchers and doctors estimate that only a small percentage of male cyclists ride long or hard enough to paralyze their penises, become impotent, or suffer any of the other horrors we’ve discussed.
And even the few studies issuing warnings to the hammerheads seem to be inconclusive and outweighed by anecdotal evidence indicating the opposite effect. The Dutch study, for instance, was quickly disputed by pro cycling’s medical commissions and racers. (In one of the more acid comments, Franceso Moser, world hour-record holder, told the Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport that, “I would like to meet the wives of these two doctors.”)
The best news is that moderate cycling can improve your sex drive. Loren Cordain, a Ph.D. in the department of exercise and sports science at Colorado State University, says, “There is no doubt that when a sedentary person takes up moderate exercise, libido is enhanced.”
Compared with sedentary sorts, exercisers usually have better circulation, sleep, diets and flexibility, and can elevate their endorphins (one of the hormones that make us feel pleasure) to higher levels. These are pluses for sexual pleasure. Exercisers also tend to have less fat. York says fat contributes to the production of estrogen (a feminizing hormone). A high level can depress sex drives in men by countering the masculinizing effects of testosterone.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of exercise on libido is to the mind. In his book, The Exercise Habit (Leisure Press, Champaign, IL; $13.95), James Gavin, Ph.D., cites surveys that found that people are more aroused after exercise, wanted (and got) more sex the more they exercised, and maintained sexual activity longer into old age.
A big reason is that “exercise gets you to live in your body, not just on top of it with your mind,” says Gavin, a sports psychologist at Concordia University in Montreal. “Hundreds of studies show that exercise improves self-esteem,” which improves sex. In plainer words, he says, “If you feel like shit, you don’t feel sexy.”
So ride with confidence. Cycling helps not only your head and overall health, but also your sex life. Just remember to respect your reproductive system. Take care of it, and when the time comes it will take care of you.
Why does the prostate grow? “Good question. We don’t really know,” says Robert P. Huben, M.D., chief of urologic oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. Dr. Huben and other experts believe the gland’s tendency to swell may have something to do with the male hormone testosterone. Eunuchs don’t get BPH. For the rest of the male population, however, the condition is extremely common. In fact, it affects as many as 60 percent of men over the age of 50 and 15 percent over age 40.
Perhaps because the condition is so prevalent and creeps up so slowly, many middle-aged men don’t realize that something’s wrong. They figure it is an inevitable change that they have no control over. But the fact is, particularly in the early stages of BPH, there’s much you can do to improve. Here are the best tips for reducing symptoms of prostate trouble:
* Don’t hold it in. If you need to urinate frequently, logic may tell you to train your bladder by waiting as long as you can. Logic has been wrong before, and it’s wrong here. “You may actually harm yourself by waiting too long,” says Patrick Walsh, M.D., chairman of urology at Johns Hopkins University. “When urine backs up too far, it can damage the kidneys.” Better to urinate as soon as you feel the need.
* Ejaculate regularly. Tough medicine, we know. But doing so may keep prostatic ducts from getting clogged and backed up. “It can only help,” says Men’s Health advisor Kenneth Goldberg, M.D., founder and director of the Male Health Center in Dallas.
* Don’t drink too much. Avoid all liquids after 6 or 7 P.M. if your sleep has been interrupted frequently (say, two or more times a night) by the urge to pee. Especially don’t drink alcohol, a central nervous system depressant that reduces muscle tone throughout the body, including in the bladder, causing it to retain urine. Day or night, limit drinks containing caffeine. These make you urinate more and increase stress on the bladder, causing it to feel full even when it isn’t.
* Limit spicy foods. Like alcohol, spicy foods may increase bladder irritability.
* Eat more vegetables. Male hormone levels drop on a vegetarian diet, and that may explain why, for example, BPH is rarer in certain Oriental cultures that are largely vegetarian.
* Lower your cholesterol. Cholesterol is converted to male hormone in the body. It’s been observed that enlarged prostate tissue is very high in cholesterol. Some doctors claim an improvement in symptoms, if not in prostate size, by getting patients to lower cholesterol.
* Get enough zinc. Concentrations of zinc tend to be low in men with prostate disease. Hence the thinking that increasing zinc intake to normal levels may help. Foods that are rich in zinc include oysters and herring. Oatmeal, wheat bran, milk, peas and nuts also contain the mineral.
* Don’t sit for too long. That’s your prostate you’re sitting on all day. Get up regularly and walk around.
* Get some exercise. No, there’s no prostate-specific workout. Rather, many physicians have observed that men in good shape, with good body tone, are less likely to have prostate trouble than sedentary men are.
If your symptoms are more severe, and none of the above methods provides adequate relief, two medications can help. The first of these is Hytrin, which relaxes the nerve endings of the bladder neck and prostate to de-stress muscles in the region. James H. Gilbaugh, Jr., M.D., clinical instructor in urology at Oregon Health Sciences University, reports that one-third to one-half of BPH patients treated with Hytrin get some relief with this method. FDA approval for Hytrin’s use in treating BPH is pending.
The other drug is Proscar, much ballyhooed as the first nonsurgical way to actually shrink the prostate gland. In the past, the trouble with a drug approach has been that you can’t block testosterone without affecting potency. Proscar works by reducing a hormone related to testosterone that is specifically responsible for prostate enlargement. There is no effect on testosterone levels bodywide, and side effects are rare. A recent study of 895 men with BPH reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug reduced the size of the prostate by about 20 percent on average, enough to boost urine flow by 23 percent. Potency problems were reported in about 5 percent.
Because these two drugs act in different ways, there are currently several studies underway to see if using them in combination would be better than using them separately. Though the results aren’t yet available, many doctors are already prescribing both, hoping for a one-two punch.
The trouble is that as a man ages, the prostate often swells up. Unfortunately, the prostate is wrapped around the urethra, the tube that carries urine. The fire hose of youth now performs like it’s trapped under the wheels of the fire truck. Voiding is slow, incomplete, sometimes even painful. The residual urine may create an urgency to “go” with precious little warning.
All this aggravation and discomfort sends men to urologists in droves, where most will be diagnosed with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which means their prostates are overgrown but not because of cancer. The doctor, of course, will try to rule out any more serious cause of the problem, but if common BPH is found, there is surgery, the relatively new drug finasteride, or in less serious cases, learning to live with it.
But there is another alternative these days–an herbal formulation made from a plant called saw palmetto. Growing wild in the American southeast, and long used as a folk remedy here, it’s now cultivated and the berries shipped to Europe.
There, the berries are processed by pharmaceutical firms into a standardized product with guaranteed potency. European men take it in droves. Many doctors there prescribe it. The German “Commission E,” which evaluates natural therapeutic agents, has given its blessing to saw palmetto. The United States has nothing comparable to Germany’s “Commission E.” As far as our Food and Drug Administration is concerned, the lack of American research with the herb makes it ineligible for any kind of approval.
In Europe, though, there’s been lots of research, much of it carried out in a very careful manner.
One of the earliest studies, by a French group, looked at the effect of saw-palmetto extract on 94 men with the usual BPH symptoms. Actually, only half got the herb; the others received a look-alike placebo to rule out the power of suggestion.
After a month, the doctors interviewed and evaluated the men, without being aware of what group they were in–the herb or placebo. What they found was that the herb takers reduced the number of times they had to get up at night by nearly half, increased their flow rate by the same amount, and lessened residual urine by 42 percent. The placebo group fared much worse; their residue, for instance, actually increased by 9 percent (British journal of Clinical Pharmacology, volume 18, 1984).
An Italian study published in Urologia in 1988 found much the same. With saw palmetto (which they refer to by its Latin name, Serenoa repens), nighttime bathroom visits decreased from an average of just over 4 per night to about 1.5 after three months. The placebo group saw no improvement.
Prevention herbal advisor Varro Tyler, Ph.D., reports that good studies on 2,000 BPH patients in Germany confirm the effectiveness of saw-palmetto extract.
If you’re wondering how a berry can be so good for the prostate, scientists have a pretty good idea of how it works.
What triggers prostate growth is a kind of mutated form of the male hormone testosterone. It’s called DHT (for dihydrotestosterone), and when it gets to an older man’s prostate cells, it makes them think they’re going through puberty again, and the gland begins packing on the beef.
As for where this troublemaker comes from–well, from an instigator enzyme called 5 alpha reductase, which causes normal testosterone to switch into the hopped-up DHT.
Saw palmetto seems literally designed to tackle this mess because what it does is:
1. Deactivate the instigator enzyme
2. Prevent DHT from acting on prostate cells, and
3. Serve as a mild anti-inflammatory on the troubled prostate gland.
The basic mechanism here turns out to be the same as in the prescription drug finasteride. Pretty good for a dumb plant, huh?
Now, a few points.
First, any man with prostate symptoms needs to see a doctor. The problems could signify a treatable cancer.
Second, saw palmetto doesn’t “cure” the prostate. Its reported effects are on symptoms only.
Side effects? Reports we’ve seen say they are rare and nonspecific. Still, if and when you use herbs of any kind, be cautious and watch for unexpected reactions.
Can you make a tea from saw palmetto? No, it won’t do anything for your prostate because the active ingredients are not soluble in water. All the research we’ve seen was done with standardized extracts made in Europe (now sold here, too), with a daily dose of 320 milligrams a day (two 80 mg. capsules, twice daily).
Keep in mind that saw palmetto is not approved by the FDA for any use in the United States. Anyone taking it should check with his physician.
In regards to such basics as serving sizes and supplementation levels, there are likely to be significant differences since, for example, generally, men are larger than women (and thus may require greater amounts of a particular nutrient), and since men and women have differences in metabolism, and other functional areas.
First, let’s consider some common female health problems and the natural approaches to treatment.
Female health concerns
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is one of numerous challenges which natural supplementation and therapies can address in order to reduce discomfort and improve indicators of overall health and quality of life. Unwillingness of the male-dominated medical profession to accept the reality of PMS, for example, caused generations of pre-menopausal women to go through untold discomfort and suffering.
Relative to PMS, many women endure one or more of these symptoms: anziety, bloating, breast-swelling, cramps, food cravings (for chocolate, sweets, or salty foods), crying spells, depression, fluid retention, headaches, irritability, and, among others, inability to sleep properly.
A nationally-recognized authority on PMS, Vicki Georges Hufnagel, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist, warns: against strict dieting, which steals essential nutrients, or eating junk foods, a stressor of body and mind which increases the need for B-vitamins.
Hufnagel urges women to eat a minimum 50 g of protein daily — a couple of ounces — and increase their intake complex carbohydrates: cereals, fruits, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains. Her secret weapon against PMS is a cup of unsweetened yogurt with a small amount of brewer’s yeast, which contains glutamic acid, a brain fool which raises depressed spirits.
She also recommends a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to keep blood sugar levels stable and advises against alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate. Various PMS experts suggest nutritional supplements, regular exercise, and improved stress management as a multi-faceted approach to managing this condition.
Andrew Weil, M.D., best-selling health writer and a believer in integrated medicine, recommends the herb dong quad for PMS and other female disorders: “Dong quad is commonly available in this country in the form of encapsulated extracts. I prescribe it frequently for such problems as irregular or difficult menstruation, PMS, menopausal symptoms, and weakness in childbirth.”
Another promising supplement that helps prevent or ease PMS is evening primrose oil. At St. Thomas Hospital in London, one of the world’s largest clinics for PMS, M.G. Brush, M.D., administered two capsules of evening primrose oil three times daily to 70 women who could gain no relief from one to two other kinds of treatment. Sixty-seven percent of the participants gained full relief, while twenty-two percent derived partial relief.
Two homeopathic remedies have a good track record for helping women cope with PMS: belladonna and magnesia phosphorica.
Another treatment that specifically helps to lessen cramps is a combination of zinc and vitamin E. Several studies show that magnesium with 50 mg of vitamin B-6 serves as a diuretic to relieve bloating and kills a craving for chocolate.
Oral contraceptives. Many individuals who take contraceptive pills are unaware of the possible negative complications.
Noted for depleting B-complex vitamins — particularly B-6 and folic acid — “the pill” may cause an elevation of low-density lipoproteins (the harmful cholesterol) and triglycerides.
Menopause. Furthermore, in oral contraceptives, or taken on its own, the extra estrogen to relieve symptoms of menopause presents the dangers of breast or cervical cancer. There appears to be a divided vote in favor of and against estrogen replacement therapy.
In Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis, Alan R. Gaby, M.D., writes, in regards to minimizing common symptoms of menopause — hot flashes, vaginal inflammation or itching, and depression: “Soybeans contain certain natural substances, phytoestrogens, that have estrogen-like activity; they may account for the rarity of menopausal symptoms in countries such as Japan, where large amounts of soy products are consumed.
“Calcium, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin E, and bioflavonoids, have also been recommended to prevent or treat menopausal symptoms….”
To alleviate hot flashes, Weil recommends two herbs to his patients: dong quad and damiana.
Osteoporosis. A sad physical occurrence during menopause is osteoporosis, honeycombing and weakening of bones, often accompanied by hip, ankle, or spinal fractures. Hormone replacement therapy, once thought to be the best way to stop bone deterioration, has lost some support.
Although the accent is put on increasing the intake of calcium to stop or reverse osteoporosis, this is just part of the story.
Jonathan Wright and Gaby, leading researchers in this field, have found other nutrients of key importance in stopping or reversing osteoporosis: magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, boron, silica, zinc, and vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Supplements containing microcrystalline hydroxyapatite — minute crystals of bone — are easily absorbed and contain important nutrients needed for building and rebuilding bone.
Although many more women than men develop osteoporosis (since women establish less bone mass than men at peak maturity), men wanting to forestall its development or progression can also benefit from bone-building complexes.
Bladder infections. Another serious female-dominated health problem is bladder infection (cystitis), which gives the bladder a feeling of fullness even when it is almost empty and necessitates frequent urination. Because antibiotics kill friendly organisms as well as the unfriendly, many women have found relief from some products at the natural foods store, such as sugarfree cranberry juice (also in capsules), fresh cranberries, cherries, raw garlic, or odor-controlled garlic supplements.
Alternative physician, Gary Gordon, M.D., recommends a half cup of cranberry juice every two hours, day and night; this works for most women. Fresh garlic or garlic supplements can help, too.
Yeast infections. Another serious problem that women deal with is vaginal infection — yeast (Candida albicans) overgrowth, easy to come by and hard to dispel. However, Eileen Hilton, M.D., of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, found a treatment program to manage this condition: Every day, over a 12-month period, she had 11 patients eat a cup of Lactobacillus acidophilus-rich yogurt, which reduced the patients’ incidence of vaginitis by three times. Also crucial to this equation are supplements of active bacterial cultures and FOS (fructooligosaccharides).
Heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. And yes, that includes women, too. In fact, statistics from the Partnership for Women’s Health at Columbia University, New York, show that, each year, 478,000 women die of cardiovascular disease, compared with 453,000 men. And, after menopause, this risk rises.
In addition to following a low-fat diet. with appropriate exercise and stress control, there are certain nutrients which have shown to have a protective effect on the heart, in particular, the antioxidant nutrients beta carotene, vitamins C and E, and selenium.
Male health concerns
Now, let’s look at a few common male-dominated health problems, and review the natural treatment options available.
Male yeast problems. According to William G. Crook, M.D., in his book, The Yeast Connection Hand-book, “[Although] women develop yeast-related problems more often than men, and premenopausal women appear to be especially susceptible,” men are not immune to yeast-related health problems.
Crook goes on to say, in his book, The Yeast Connection and the Woman, that, “These problems are especially apt to occur in men who: 1) have taken repeated or prolonged courses of broad spectrum antibiotic drugs…; 2) are troubled by persistent `jock itch,’ athlete’s foot, or fungus infections of the nails; [...] 3) are bothered by recurrent digestive problems, including constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.”
Unsweetened cranberry juice has been helpful for men coping with bladder infections, while yogurt is beneficial for C. albicans overgrowth.
Prostate health. A real misery of male aging is the possibility of prostate problems, accompanied by such symptoms as increased need to urinate; difficulty urinating; burning, painful voiding of the bladder; and inability to empty it completely, in addition to disturbed sleep due to the need to urinate many times nightly.
Orthodox doctors prescribe certain drugs to solve these problems, and to help prevent benign prostate hyperplasia from evolving into prostate cancer. The best natural treatments, which can be used safely in conjunction with conventional therapies, seem to be saw palmetto, zinc, pumpkin seeds, and essential fatty acids from fresh oils.
Heart disease. As noted earlier, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In her book, Super Nutrition for Men, Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., says that by age 60, one in every five men will have suffered a heart attack. She recommends a “heartsmart” nutrition plan that includes plenty of essential fatty acids, the B vitamin niacin, the B-like vitamin choline, and the minerals chromium and magnesium. A two-to-one ratio of calcium-to-magnesium is often recommended.
Another important risk factor for heart attacks in men is where they store their fat — in the mid-section. Excess fat in this area is associated with increased frequency of heart attacks. Fortunately, once this weight is lost — and kept off — the risk of heart attack decreases.