Case Studies: Prostate Cancer

Perfect Prostate Health


| May/June 2004


Mark came to see me a few months ago for what he called “plumbing problems.” His symptoms sounded miserable — he had to get up at least five times during the night to urinate, and he frequently had the feeling he couldn’t get everything out, even when the initial urge to go was fairly intense.

Mark told me he was not the kind of guy who frequented acupuncture clinics, so I could tell he was desperate to try anything that could offer relief. He had heard about the herb saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), which was a major reason for his coming to see me. After a lengthy discussion and examination, I was convinced that Mark had an excess condition underlying the prostate problem. His tongue had a thick yellow coating toward the back, and he did not report symptoms of a deficien- cy pattern, such as fatigue, depression, chronic lower back pain or ringing in the ears. In the view of Traditional Chinese Medicine, an excess heat condition like the one Mark exhibited could underlie an inflammatory condition, which might involve the prostate gland. Inflammation can go along with prostate enlargement, and when chronic, can increase the risk of eventual prostate cancer.

Conventional Medical Options

Medical science doesn’t understand why a man’s prostate gland is likely to start growing after midlife, perhaps around the time of “men-o-pause,” but it is so common that the incidence is greater than 50 percent after 60 years of age, and is as high as 90 percent by age 85. This condition is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which simply means prostate enlargement. Changing hormone levels, especially the testosterone-to-estrogen ratio, is a usual explanation.



BPH is a common reason a man might come into an acupuncture and herbal clinic, perhaps because many men understandably don’t like the sound of some of the modern treatments for the ailment, which are reputed to lead to a fairly high incidence of impotence. These surgical treatments include transurethral resection of the pros­tate (TURP) or transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP), the most com­mon procedures. These surgeries show a 30­ to 40 percent better chance of reducing symptoms, at least in the short term, than watchful waiting. However, surgery has a 24 to 40 percent higher incidence of im­potence associated with it.

Besides surgery, drugs often are prescribed to block the action of the hormone testosterone, which sometimes gives some relief, but also with major side effects, including impotence.







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