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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine December 2004
Flower Pollen
Powerful Protection for Prostate Health
by Heather S. Oliff, PhD

Other Beneficial Phytotherapeutics
Throughout the world, phytotherapies increasingly are used to promote prostate health. For example, in Germany and Austria, physicians prescribe phytotherapy for mild and moderate benign prostatic hyperplasia in 90% of cases. In Italy, phytotherapeutics are prescribed for benign prostatic hyperplasia in 50% of cases.3 Among these popular phytotherapies for prostate heath are saw palmetto, omega-3 fatty acids, nettle root, pygeum, rosemary, and lycopene.

Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is a dwarf palm tree native to southeastern North America. Its medicinal value for relief of prostate gland swelling has been reported since the 1800s.3 Today, saw palmetto is the most commonly used phytotherapeutic in Europe for managing benign prostatic hyperplasia.17 More than 7,000 men with benign prostatic hyperplasia have participated in clinical studies evaluating saw palmetto.17

Over all, the clinical studies concluded that saw palmetto improves symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, including urinary flow rate, nocturia, painful urination, residual urine, and inflammation.17 Saw palmetto may produce its effect by lowering levels of DHT in prostate tissue. Animal studies demonstrate that saw palmetto induces apoptosis (programmed cell death), inhibits cell proliferation, and prohibits the action of estrogen in the prostate.17 Saw palmetto is well tolerated, though gastrointestinal disturbance has been reported in rare cases.17

From top to bottom: stinging nettle, saw palmetto, and rosemary are three popular phytotherapies used to
promote prostate health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oils)
Unfortunately, the average American diet is low in omega-3 fatty acids and high in omega-6 fatty acids, the two main classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids in foods. Recent findings suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA from fish oil, may prevent prostate cancer. Scientists studied the association between fish consumption and prostate cancer in more than 6,000 Swedish men.18 During 30 years of follow-up, men who ate no fish had a two to three times higher rate of developing prostate cancer than those who ate moderate or high amounts of fish. The scientists concluded, “Fish consumption could be associated with decreased risk of prostate cancer.”18

A low-fat diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may prevent the development and progression of prostate cancer and possibly benign prostatic hyperplasia by altering COX-2 expression and prostaglandin production in prostatic tissue.19 COX-2 is an enzyme that converts omega-6 fatty acids to prostaglandins, which stimulate inflammation and the growth of new blood vessels to feed a growing tumor. The potential for omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oils to prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer requires further study, but the preliminary evidence is encouraging.

Nettle Root
Stinging nettle is an herb that grows in temperate climates worldwide. So named because the plant is covered with “stinging” hairs that can cause skin discomfort after accidental contact, stinging nettle root is an approved medicine in Germany for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. A number of studies have demonstrated its effects, which include reducing frequent urination, painful urination, nocturia, and urine retention.20 Nettle root produces its effects by inhibiting prostate cell proliferation induced by the sex hormone binding globulin pathway in the prostate.21,22 Some researchers believe nettle root relieves the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia without reducing the prostate’s enlargement,20 which may be why nettle root is often combined in formulations with other herbs. Nettle root is well tolerated, though occasional mild gastrointestinal disturbance has been reported.20

Pygeum
Pygeum africanum is a tree found in northern Africa. Its bark extracts have been used throughout Europe for more than 30 years to improve genital-urinary symptoms.3 A review completed in 2000 evaluated 18 randomized controlled trials of pygeum that involved 1,562 men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.23 Compared to placebo-treated men, more men using pygeum reported an improvement in overall symptoms, including nocturia, residual urine volume, and urine flow. Adverse effects due to pygeum were mild and comparable to placebo. The reviewers concluded, “A standardized preparation of Pygeum africanum may be a useful treatment option for men with lower urinary symptoms consistent with benign prostatic hyperplasia.”23 Evidence suggests that pygeum produces its preventive and healing effects by inhibiting the division of prostate cancer cells and benign prostatic hyperplasia cells.24

Rosemary
Rosemary, a small, fragrant evergreen shrub, has been reported to inhibit experimental carcinogenesis.25 Preliminary studies in animals indicate that rosemary has an antimutagenic effect, preventing cancer by reducing the frequency of cell mutation (cancer cells are mutated cells).26 Rosemary leaf has no known side effects20 and may have the potential to improve prostate health.

Lycopene
Lycopene is a micronutrient in the family of carotenoids, which give fruits and vegetables their yellow, orange, and red colors. Tomatoes are the best natural source of lycopene, and cooked tomatoes (as in tomato sauce) may be the optimal source because the heating action improves the body’s absorption of lycopene. Lycopene can also be consumed as a supplement.

Lycopene’s antioxidant activity is at least twice as great as that of beta-carotene. Extensive scientific evidence demonstrates that increased consumption of tomato products and other lycopene-containing foods may reduce the occurrence or progression of prostate cancer.27 Scientists evaluating 1,872 men with and without prostate cancer discovered that there is a lower risk of prostate cancer in men with higher plasma levels of lycopene.27 In a smaller study, scientists found that consuming tomato sauce entrees (containing 30 mg of lycopene daily) increased apoptosis in benign prostatic hyperplasia cells.28 Additional large-scale studies are needed to confirm this exciting finding.

Summary
Flower pollen has been used by millions of men around the world. With the introduction of Cernitin®, men in the US can now obtain the protective effects of flower pollen and use it to counteract the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Considering that the precise cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia remains unknown, it stands to reason that a product such as Cernitin®, which contains several phytotherapies with various mechanisms of action, may be the most effective way to both prevent and treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. With its demonstrated benefits and lack of side effects, Cernitin® is an important addition to the arsenal of products for prostate health.

References

1. Prostate Enlargement: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse; February 2004. NIH Publication No. 04-3012.

2. Skolarikos A, Thorpe AC, Neal DE. Lower urinary tract symptoms and benign prostatic hyperplasia. Minerva Urol Nefrol. 2004 Jun;56(2):109-22.

3. Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Rutks I, MacDonald R. Phytotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Public Health Nutr. 2000 Dec;3(4A):459-72.

4. Available at: http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/nutsupdrugs/flo_0108.shtml. Accessed September 9, 2004.

5. Nakase S, Takenaka K, Hamanaka T, Kimura M. Effects of Cernilton pollen-extract on urethral smooth muscle and diaphragmatic neuromuscular specimen. Folio Pharmacol Jpn. 1988;91:385-92.

6. Ito R, Ishii M, S. Y, et al. Antiprostatic hypertrophic action of Cernilton pollen-extract. Pharmacometrics. 1986;31:1-11.

7. Kimura M, Kimura I, Nakase K, Sonobe T, Mori N. Micturition activity of pollen extract: contractile effects on bladder and inhibitory effects on urethral smooth muscle of mouse and pig. Planta Med. 1986 Apr;(2):148-51.

8. Loschen G, Ebeling L. Inhibition of arachidonic acid cascade by extract of rye pollen. Arzneimittelforschung. 1991 Feb;41(2):162-7.

9. Available at: http://www.graminex.com/clinical_studies/study7.htm. Accessed September 13, 2004.

10. Tunn S, Krieg M. Hormone metabolism in the human prostate. In: Vahlensieck W, Rutishauser G, eds. Benign Prostate Diseases. New York, NY: Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.; 1992:17-21.

11. Available at: http://www.graminex.com/clinical_studies/study8.htm. Accessed September 13, 2004.

12. Dutkiewicz S. Usefulness of Cernilton in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Int Urol Nephrol. 1996;28(1):49-53.

13. Yasumoto R, Kawanishi H, Tsujino T, et al. Clinical evaluation of long-term treatment using cernitin pollen extract in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Clin Ther. 1995 Jan-Feb;17(1):82-7.

14. Buck AC, Cox R, Rees RW, Ebeling L, John A. Treatment of outflow tract obstruction due to benign prostatic hyperplasia with the pollen extract, cernilton. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Br J Urol. 1990 Oct;66(4):398-404.

15. Available at: http://www.graminex.com/clinical_studies/study83.php. Accessed September 9, 2004.

16. Habib FK, Ross M, Buck AC, Ebeling L, Lewenstein A. In vitro evaluation of the pollen extract, cernitin T-60, in the regulation of prostate cell growth. Br J Urol. 1990 Oct;66(4):393-7.

17. Blumenthal M, ed. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 2003.

18. Terry P, Lichtenstein P, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, Wolk A. Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer. Lancet. 2001 Jun 2;357(9270):1764-66.

19. Aronson WJ, Glaspy JA, Reddy ST, Reese D, Heber D, Bagga D. Modulation of omega-3/omega-6 polyunsaturated ratios with dietary fish oils in men with prostate cancer. Urology. 2001 Aug;58(2):283-8.

20. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine. Expanded Commission E Monographs. 1st ed. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

21. Hryb DJ, Khan MS, Romas NA, Rosner W. The effect of extracts of the roots of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on the interaction of SHBG with its receptor on human prostatic membranes. Planta Med. 1995 Feb;61(1):31-2.

22. Ding VD, Moller DE, Feeney WP, et al. Sex hormone-binding globulin mediates prostate androgen receptor action via a novel signaling pathway. Endocrinology. 1998 Jan;139(1):213-8.

23. Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Mac Donald R, Rutks I, Stark G. Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia (Cochrane Review). The Cochrane Library. Vol Issue 3. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.; 2004.

24. Santa Maria Margalef A, Paciucci Barzanti R, Reventos Puigjaner J, Morote Robles J, Thomson Okatsu TM. Antimitogenic effect of Pygeum africanum extracts on human prostatic cancer cell lines and explants from benign prostatic hyperplasia. Arch Esp Urol. 2003 May;56(4):369-78.

25. Singletary K, MacDonald C, Wallig M. Inhibition by rosemary and carnosol of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis and in vivo DMBA-DNA adduct formation. Cancer Lett. 1996 Jun 24;104(1):43-8.

26. Minnunni M, Wolleb U, Mueller O, Pfeifer A, Aeschbacher HU. Natural antioxidants as inhibitors of oxygen species induced mutagenicity. Mutat Res. 1992 Oct;269(2):193-200.

27. Gann PH, Ma J, Giovannucci E, et al. Lower prostate cancer risk in men with elevated plasma lycopene levels: results of a prospective analysis. Cancer Res. 1999 Mar 15;59(6):1225-30.

28. Kim HS, Bowen P, Chen L, et al. Effects of tomato sauce consumption on apoptotic cell death in prostate benign hyperplasia and carcinoma. Nutr Cancer. 2003;47(1):40-7.

29. Available at: http://www.graminex.com/clinical_studies/study22.php. Accessed September 15, 2004.