According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer is a disease one out of every seven men will have to face at some point in their lifetimes.
Additionally, one out of 39 will lose their life to this particular form of cancer.
While these numbers are grim, the ACS stresses that most men diagnosed with prostate cancer will survive. Furthermore, there have been two plants that can potentially help increase these odds as they’ve been found extremely beneficial for prostate health. They are saw palmetto and stinging nettle.
Saw palmetto and the prostate connection
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explains that saw palmetto, a palm-type of tree commonly known as the American dwarf palm tree or cabbage palm, has been found in research studies to lessen the impact of male sex hormones like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Sloan Kettering goes on to say that this doesn’t necessarily prevent prostate cancer, per se, but it does potentially reduce the risk of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)—a condition characterized by an enlarged prostate gland.
This is critical as the Urology Care Foundation (the official foundation of the American Urological Association) indicates that, while an enlarged prostate is not a cancer in and of itself, “BPH and cancer can happen at the same time.” Thus, one could argue that they’re interconnected in some fashion.
The berries from the saw palmetto tree provide benefits as well, namely due to their anti-inflammatory nature. In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) points out that saw palmetto berries have been used by men as far back as the early 1900s “to treat urinary tract problems, and even to increase sperm production and boost libido.”
The capsule form is the most preferable according to the UMMC, as long as it is “a fat soluble saw palmetto extract that contains 85 to 95% fatty acids and sterols.” While rare, this substance can potentially create a few negative side effects, such as headaches and dizziness or nausea and diarrhea, so be aware of this.
Sloan Kettering adds that it also should not be taken by individuals on antiplatelet medications, NSAIDs, or substrates of UGT or cytochrome P450 as saw palmetto can increase the effects of these drugs. It also should not be taken by patients on blood thinners as it could result in increased bleeding or bruising.
Stinging nettle for prostatitis
Another prostate condition that is said to affect approximately one-quarter of all American men, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), is prostatitis. Prostatitis involves having an inflamed or infected prostate and, like BPH, its is not a cancer of the prostate, but the PCF does indicate that there is “a question as to whether continued inflammation of the prostate may lead to the eventual development of prostate cancer.”
In other words, until more studies are conducted in this area, the link remains unclear. Studies have been conducted on prostatitis, however, and some have found that stinging nettle may help.
The UMMC shares that stinging nettle is a plant which actually creates physical pain when you touch it, largely because of the chemicals released by “fine hairs on the leaves and stems.” Touch it to an already pained area though and it provides relief instead, possibly due to the way it interferes with your body’s processing of the pain.
Stinging nettle has been tested for its effects on prostatitis specifically and the outcomes look favorable. For instance, one 2009 study published by the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents involved 143 patients, some of whom were assigned to take an antibiotic and the rest of whom were assigned to take the antibiotic plus stinging nettle, saw palmetto, quercetin, and curcumin.
After one month, only 27 percent of the antibiotic-only group reported that they were symptom-free whereas 89.6 percent of the group taking the antibiotics and the natural supplements could say the same. Other studies have found similar results, suggesting that stinging nettle is beneficial to the health of the prostate.
While neither of these plants has been directly linked to the prevention or treatment of prostate cancer, they both appear to still have a positive effect on the prostate gland. That makes them two worth considering for total prostate health.