Prostate Health

More and more research studies suggest that traditional Chinese medicine can be effective for various aspects of prostate health. Its methods apparently can slow down the growth of unwanted cells or reduce side effects of chemotherapy for those patients who suffer from prostate cancer. A lot of studies have been conducted, and they made some issues clear, but more research is needed to identify many other useful effects that traditional Chinese medicine is capable of. At the same time, one fact is clear: traditional Chinese medicine was designed to keep people healthy, rather than treat diseases, which it can do, too. But it appears most effective in preventing prostate problems, and it can help when the patient finds—or just “feels”—that something is not right, even when western medical tests have shown nothing wrong.

Prostate Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, treatment does not focus on prostate directly, but the method’s classical holistic approach appears to work well on prostate health, nonetheless. On one hand, research studies do not focus on the effects of traditional Chinese medical modalities on prostate treatment alone (it would be unethical) in people, but researchers do an experiment, for example, on rats. One such study showed that one of the classical herbal formula (in traditional Chinese medicine, single herbs are rarely used; they are typically used in combination with other herbs, so they would increase the desirable effects and reduce the unwanted ones), Zi-Shen Pill, reduces prostatic hyperplasia (abnormally high cell-division rate) in rats (Sun et al., 2008). While more research is needed to confirm whether or not a similar effect of the formula occurs in people (although, chances are pretty high that it does, based on the hundreds of years the herbal formula has been tested on Chinese people), a review of studies conducted in China showed that herbal medicine can be just as effective for reducing hyperplasia and had fewer side effects than western drugs (Ma et al., 2013), and an increasing number of research studies confirm these findings as well as suggest that traditional Chinese medicine may be used in the treatment of prostate cancer (Wu et al., 2018).  

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Troublesome Prostate

On the other hand and at the other extreme of prostate health, combining acupuncture, herbal medicine, therapeutic exercises (qigong, tai chi), and other methods of traditional Chinese medicine with western medical treatment leads to higher success rates than western medical treatment alone. One medical review, for example, showed that traditional Chinese medicine used complementary increases in survival rates in patients with metastatic prostate cancer (Liu et al., 2016). Considering that when patients receive chemotherapy, their liver, as well as other organs, are already under enormous strain to filter all the poisonous chemicals, fewer herbs and more other modalities, such as acupuncture, cupping, tui na, or therapeutic exercises can provide more benefit and even fewer side effects—although, research has shown that Chinese herbal formulas can be useful in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy (Ye et al., 2015).
The reality is, it is important to pay attention to your health and begin talking with your traditional Chinese medical provider before western medical tests identify that something is wrong. In western medicine, the state of health is compared to being sick (which, admittedly, may have slightly changed in recent years), while in traditional Chinese medicine the person’s optimal health is compared with suboptimal health. In other words, traditional Chinese medicine is designed—and works best—for preventative rather than treatment purposes (Wang, Russell & Yan, 2014).

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