Insomnia caused by nightly urination, emotional stress caused by loss of sexual function, pain when urinating. Some or all of these can often leave a man feeling exhausted, frustrated and old regardless of his true age. These symptoms, among others, are usually indications of a prostate problem.
By the age of 65, 96% of men have enlarged prostates, and prostate cancer is the number two killer of men in the UK, after lung cancer.
As the prostate gland enlarges in what is known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), sexual performance declines and may become quite painful. Many men become totally impotent as a result, and some experience the added embarrassment of incontinence. Sometimes the prostate becomes tumorous and requires surgical intervention, though in most cases this should be a last resort as in some 70% of cases, surgery can leave the patient impotent.
The first signs of danger
Researchers say millions of men are living with prostate problems and don’t even know it. The first sign is the need to urinate frequently or at night. This condition then degenerates to a slight pain or burning sensation during urination, difficulty starting urine flow and dribbling. The three most common problems associated with the prostate are infection, enlargement and growths. An infected prostate will swell and block the flow of urine causing it to back up in the bladder. The bladder then becomes infected and if untreated may pass the infection to the kidneys. Growths also enlarge the prostate due to the fast multiplication of mutant cells.
Surgery or Not
Many doctors will chose surgery as a early option, but surgery often results in further complications of ,mainly impotence and incontinence. However if you have a growth there may be no other choice other than chemotherapy (drug treatment), which may have equally detrimental side effects. Even the newest prescription drugs have limited success in reducing an enlarged prostate. Some of the side effects of these drugs are almost as bad as the prostate disorder itself.
Prostate health without drugs or surgery
Fortunately some doctors feel that an enlarged prostate can be treated by supplementing the nutrition that it lacks, and tremendous progress has been made using this method. The processing of food destroys a good portion, if not all, of the most important nutrient used by the prostate gland - Zinc. The prostate uses 10 times more of this element than any other organ in the body. The herb Serenoa Serrulata (Saw Palmetto) works like zinc in the prostate, however zinc alone is not the answer as the body has a complicated synthesis of nutrients into usable forms and zinc requires vitamin B6 in order to convert it to a form readily absorbed by the prostate. So just supplementing with one or two substances may not be the answer. To ensure health of your prostate several nutrients are required and this requirement will differ from person to person. .
Yes, it’s the family GP
Methadone, the heroin substitute, is a killer in the wrong hands. So who is responsible for putting this dangerous drug in the hands of our young people? The drug dealer? A cartel from South America? No, it’s the friendly family doctor, who is writing up to 40 per cent of all prescriptions.
Many of these drugs are not being taken by the person for whom the prescription is written, but instead are sold on to drug abusers.
Of all drugs, methadone is responsible for more deaths from misuse and abuse. In the four years to 1997, methadone-associated deaths rose from 371 to 675 a year in England and Wales alone. Some have included small children who have uncovered methadone supplies in the family home.
Doctors at the City Hospital in Birmingham estimate that more lives have been lost from the prescribing of methadone than have been saved.
Methadone has its advocates who believe the drug has suffered from an unwarranted ‘bad press’, and say it is also a very effective pain-killer.
But it’s clear that it’s also a drug that needs more careful control, and one that needs to be taken out of the trusting hands of the family GP.
(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2003; 348: 81).
Imagine it. You’re a typical drug company. You’ve spent many millions researching a drug and getting it through the licensing process.
Then, after all that hard work and expense, people inconsiderately start dying and suffering serious adverse reactions while on the drug.
It gets so bad (and it has to be really bad for this to happen) the drug regulators finally withdraw your licence.
What do you do? Easy, you start selling to developing countries.
This has just happened with the non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) nimesulide. The drug has been linked to liver toxicity, and has been refused a licence in United States, Europe, Canada and Australia. Last year it was banned in Turkey, Finland and Spain.
But it’s good enough for the Indian market, where it has been sold with impunity since 1994 when it was granted a licence. In fact, it’s been quite a success, and isn’t being used just for arthritic conditions, for which it was intended, but is also prescribed as a pain-killer and for treating fever.
So how many Indians have been harmed while on the drug? Nobody seems to know, but a committee has been set up to look into it. So that’s alright then.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2003; 326: 70).
Does genetics have a part to play?
The link between some versions of the oral contraceptive pill and breast cancer is well established, but what determines which women will actually go on to develop the condition?
Researchers at the University of Toronto believe it can be determined by a mutation in genes known as BRCA1 and 2. Women with this mutation have up to an 80 per cent greater lifetime risk of developing breast cancer if they have also been taking the pill.
They arrived at the theory after studying 1,311 pairs of women who had mutations in one or both of the genes. Half the women already had breast cancer, and half were healthy.
There seemed to be a few danger signs about pill usage. Women who had used the pill for five years, or those who used the pill before the age of 30, or those who first used the pill before 1975 (the generation of the pill that had higher estrogen content) had up to a 42 per cent high risk of developing breast cancer compared with women with the mutation who had never taken the pill.
So, if you know you have the mutation, what should you do? The researchers suggest that taking the pill after the age of 30 doesn’t seem to increase your risks of breast cancer.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; 289: 164).
The word Diet comes from the Greek word DIAITA meaning, to direct one's own life. The way we lead our daily lives has a great effect upon our health and well-being, and we can all do something to maintain or help restore our health by how and what we eat. This may seem simple, but our digestive system is the primary way in which we take in nourishment to sustain ourselves and is probably the part of our bodies we most abuse.
I don’t believe it is necessary to follow a harsh regime of abstinence or to brave laborious and tedious to prepare meals, in order to remain healthy. What is important however, is to be aware of what, how much, and when you are eating.
It has become quite faddish to eat exotic foods from far off places. One just has to walk around the fresh produce section of any supermarket to see this. In moderation these are fine, but the volume of sales suggests that the consumption of such foods is both excessive and sustained.
At the other end of the eating habit scale, processed food is having its effect on our health by virtue of the amount of insidious sugar, salt, chemical colouring and preservatives we are consuming. The idea of ‘processed’ food can be extended to the cocktail of chemicals used in growing crops and feeding animals. Even if you are vegetarian you are subject to the effects of hormonal cocktails through dairy produce. Ah! you say but I get my eggs, butter, and milk from organic sources. Yes but where did the feed come from, and how was it grown? Even if its a completely self-contained organic farm, the pollution from the rivers and rainwater will still find its way into your body.
This all sounds very depressing; well! we are told by manifold religious scriptures, that we live in degenerate times, and this is true. But I digress, back to the diet.
I have prepared what I consider to be the ten commandments for good eating . Obviously if you suffer from an illness which is being treated with some form of medicine, be it alternative, complimentary, or allopathic, then your practitioner should advise you more specifically on foods which should be included or excluded. Some practitioners rely on diet alone, which may not be enough to ‘break the back’ of the illness, which very often has developed insidiously and become one with the organism it feeds on - you. So! To the meat - or vegetables, of my general guide to an indulgent yet healthy way of eating:-
o Eat when you are hungry; Until comfortably sufficient - Your stomach can hold about two cupped handfuls of food comfortably, and is ready to work when you are hungry.
o Don't eat when you are not hungry and don't overeat; This disrupts the balance within your organ systems, with consequent overall weakness. Practice moderation in moderation.
o Don't eat too fast; This creates excess heat and affects the nerves of the Stomach and organs of the digestive system
o Don't consume cold food and drink directly from the fridge; This creates a stagnation of nutrients in the body and may lead to digestive problems, lack of energy, headaches, and so on.
o Be mindful of the amount of liquid you consume. In general this is probably too much. Social drinking of alcohol, tea, coffee, soft drinks, presents our body systems not only with unrequired liquid but also an excess of undesirable stimulants. However if you are thirsty or engaged in physical work or sport your body needs far more liquid than normal. So drink when you need to.
o Three or four regular meals are ideal - Traditionally breakfast should be the main meal, in fact the ancient Chinese used to say:-
Eat, like a King at breakfast
like a prince at lunch
and like a pauper the rest of the day.
You are more relaxed and less likely to be stressed in the morning which will help your digestion and give you a good start to the day ahead at a time when your Stomach is most energised (between 7AM - 9AM). However it seems our normal routine is the exact opposite of this. Breakfast consists of toast and coffee taken hurriedly, lunch is slotted into the business day on a best-fit basis, and by the time we come to eat the evening meal our body system is tired and wants to rest and prepare itself for the regeneration period of sleep, and what do we do? We give it the best most exotic food we can muster, in quantities far in excess of the capacity of the receiving organ, the stomach. The important point here is that if you must eat a large meal in the evening accompanied by excessive volumes of liquid, then walk it off before retiring for the night.
o Try to eat foods which are in season in our latitude. Avoid tropical foods in the winter months. They are 'cold' in nature, and even though we need a balance, in the colder weather we need energetically warming foods such as root vegetables. In summer, salads made from 'cooler' foods such as large leafy or watery fruit and vegetables, should be balanced by cooked meals.
o Contrary to modern popular belief, uncooked food is not better for you. Your body has to work much harder to digest raw food and whether you have digestive problems or not, your body will react more favourably to lightly boiled vegetables. I am not saying don’t eat salads, I am saying don’t live off salads, because that will eventually lead to problems (not necessarily digestive). If you cook in oil then use olive oil which has been cold pressed.
o Eat as varied a diet as possible, with a maximum of four or five different foods in one meal, and try to vary the flavours, energy and organic action (see further reading below). If you dislike meat make sure you get your protein from other sources such as nuts, beans and legumes. If you eat a lot of meat (especially red meat which promotes aggression) and you are not an Olympic athlete, then cut down to no more than one or two meat dishes per week. The primary food in your diet should consist of cooked whole grains such as; brown rice, whole wheat, barley, oats, rye, millet, corn, and buckwheat. These represent the building aspect of nutrition and should constitute 40 to 60% (and up to 100% for short periods of time in the cold months) of your daily intake. The secondary class of food in a balanced diet is vegetables. They supply important nutrients and represent the eliminative aspect of nutrition and should constitute 30 to 40% of our food. Meat, nuts, dairy and fruit can be viewed as the third class of food which is more of a supplement to grains beans and vegetables and makes up no more than 10% of daily intake. If you are vegetarian it is important that beans, pulses and dairy are included in this category. Dried beans are easily available these days and can include aduki, mung, lentils, peas, black, etc. (Add coriander, cumin or ginger when cooking to counter flatulence)
o Chew your food well before swallowing. Your mouth is designed to pre-digest food. The more you prepare it in you mouth, the easier your stomach will digest it and the more nourishment you will obtain from it.
I suppose one could say that there are two basic balanced diets. Firstly we need to select foods according to the above guidelines. Secondly an individuals diet should be balanced according to their needs and physical constitution. Although the oriental and occidental schools would agree with that statement, the way each would go about it and the resultant list of foods produced is unfortunately very different. Personally I feel that while the vitamin and mineral content of food is undoubtedly of great importance especially in cases of severe deficiency, one cannot be guided by that alone. The oriental view of the energetic values of food must be taken into account when considering our daily nourishment.
As a post script the following list is what I consider NO-No’s (or Serious moderation, because 'a little bit of what you fancy does you good'):- Salt, Sugar, Coffee, Tea, Alcohol, Tobacco.
However I stress that it is an error to regard any food as inherently “good” or “bad”, rather it is subject to each individuals needs and requirements, for remember the proverb “one man’s meat (or vegetable) is another man’s poison”.”
Healing with Whole Foods Paul Pitchford (North Atlantic Books)
Chinese System of Food Cures Henry C. Lu (Sterling Publishing)
Prince Wen Hui’s Cook Bob Flaws & Honora Wolfe (Paradigm)
Nutritional Medicine Davies & Stewart (Pan Books)
Food for Free Richard Mabey (Harper Collins)
Legally it's not ok for a Chinese medical practitioner to represent themselves as a "Doctor" unless they have a PhD or doctorate in something else, and even then not as a medical doctor.
Of course, these are inadequate titles because they don't say anything about herbs, moxibustion, cupping– in fact, acupuncture is just one modality (a treatment) rather than a system of medicine.
The system of medicine is called Oriental Medicine... it's not just Chinese because there are distinct Korean and Japanese styles. And actually it's not just Oriental because it continues to develop—there are some distinctly French innovations (not sure if they're good yet!), and American and British variations are developing as well. But it's all based on the original Chinese Medical theory, pathology, etc. Our profession needs a better name for it!
It's not the greatest to call biomedical physicians "Medical Doctors" either... they practice only one kind of medicine- biomedical. They don't learn Oriental Medicine. We do, but we aren't officially called "Medical" doctors. I still have a hard time saying I've been to medical school- most people would assume I meant biomedical school.
It's the biomedical physicians' belief that their medicine is the only real one. Some jokingly call them "R.D.'s" (Real Doctors). And it's a sarcastic not a flattering term.
Arrogance and Ignorance
Masters Degree Licensed Acupuncturists cannot learn pharmacology in a weekend course and then legally prescribe drugs. But MD's and DC's (chiropractors) can take a 2 or 3 weekend course and practice acupuncture. That should be banned. Imagine the outrage if I could take a weekend class on pharmacology and then prescribe drugs. "We can look it up," they say. Yeah, so could we. Not a high standard for medicine, is it?
The precedent is that one should be adequately educated before they can practice any medicine- it' s only MD's who are allowed to 'fool around' with other medicines. And that's due to the false assumption that they already have the basics. It's an antiquated notion from back when everyone had to be good enough at the basics of medicine to be in the middle of nowhere without a hospital or a ton of specialists. These days it's different, but the idea that MD's know enough to practice anything has yet to change. In fact, MD's can do plastic "surgery" without any specialized training whatsoever. There is even an association that for a fee will send them a certificate for absolutely no training.
In China there are 3 main division of medicine:
Each of those 3 branches has their own hospitals, clinics, and schools.
Chinese Medicine is an independent system totally different from what MD's learn. The idea that they can practice one of our modalities without the medical system from which it is derived is arrogant and foolish. Sure, they can probably do it without puncturing your lung, kidneys, or brainstem, but can they get good results? If they don't, it's not acupuncture that's at fault, but their arrogance and lack of training.
I don't blame them for wanting to get in on such an effective, needed, and profitable medicine. And I understand that they've already gone to school for 7-10 years and paid a lot of money for that. But at least they could have the humility to learn our medicine before they practice it!
Doctor as a Term of Respect
The fact is, though, that many patients call L.Ac.'s and D.Ac.’s 'doctor' anyway. They do so out of respect. After all, if the guy helps you, maybe even more than your RD (Real Doctor) did, doesn't he deserve the title too? These days, MD's have lost a lot of respect and trust... legally they still are called doctors.
(I know another guy with a Master's degree that jokes, "Fine, I'll call you Doctor, so long as you call me Master.")
The Historical Meaning of Doctor
But many people seem to have forgotten what a doctor is. The original medieval latin meant "to teach." That implies a relationship with the patient. Leadership, sponsorship, mentorship... Fixing your medical problems became part of the word in the 14th c., but we still recognize a broader doctor archetype. Carl Jung expanded the doctor archetype to "healer," and discussed the idea of a "wounded healer" implied by the Biblical adage "Physician, heal thyself." The root of the word patient and passion is the same: "suffering." The healer must have compassion for his patient.
The Chinese Medical Physician as the Ultimate Healer
This is the golden nugget that most patients discover with traditional acupuncturist/herbalists. Chinese medicine takes the whole person into account and treats disease with that in mind, so the Chinese healer has to really get to know you.
Chinese Medicine is not a profession for those who dislike conversation and relationship! Sure, you can treat pain and sports medicine only, and that minimizes the necessary relationship time... but most who are drawn to a holistic medicine are invigorated by the interchange. It's stereotypically the opposite of the MD/DO... instead of having to focus on relationship to keep their patients happy, the acupuncturist has to focus on time-efficiency to keep their business going! It's not black and white, of course, but these are some generalities that explain what kind of doctors/healers Chinese medicine practitioners are.
Routine procedures may not be best procedures
It’s quite extraordinary how procedures in hospitals get adopted. Their very nature makes it almost impossible to test in a proper scientific trial; how do you carry out a double-blind placebo trial on open-heart surgery, for instance?
For this reason well over 80 per cent of procedures you may encounter in a hospital have never been tested for their safety or efficacy.
One example of this is the pulmonary-artery catheter, given almost routinely to elderly, high-risk patients in intensive care. It’s a very invasive and unpleasant procedure, and, worse, consultants and nurses have noticed that patients given a catheter are more likely to die than those left alone.
So researchers from the University of Calgary decided to break with tradition, and test a hospital procedure. They observed the progress of 1,994 patients, half of whom were given a catheter before emergency surgery, and the rest had standard care.
The worst fears of the consultants were confirmed. Those given a catheter who more likely to suffer a pulmonary embolism although, thereafter, survival rates at six and 12 months were similar in both groups.
So what are the benefits of the catheter? None at all, say the researchers, and it’s another invasive procedure that can be safely stopped.
(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2003; 348: 5-14).
The dictionary defines Stress as 'mental, emotional, or physical strain or tension', a 'force or a system of forces producing deformation or strain'.
When we talk of stress colloquially we are referring to feelings which we recognise in ourselves or those close to us, such as anger, resentment, frustration, jealousy, desire, and we recognise symptoms which are commonly associated with stress such as, headaches, tiredness, lack of appetite or comfort eating, depression, menstrual disorders, sexual problems, allergy, insomnia, gastritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), hypertension - The list is endless - and could go on to include most of the illnesses from a medical dictionary, for most of the ailments which we suffer from emanate from two primary sources. The first is from the nutrients we take in, in the form of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. The second is from our state of mind, our emotions. There is sadly a third source these days, and that is the inappropriate or over-prescription of drugs by medical doctors. This is not western medicine bashing, just stating a fact that an ever increasing number of caring MD's agree with.
It is generally believed that we require a certain amount of stress in order to maintain well-being, (muscle tone is a form of stress). However when stress occurs in quantities that the system cannot handle it produces physiological changes.
Stress is not all bad however and can be categorised into Good (eustress) and Bad (distress), with perhaps a third category which is defined when distress becomes chronic. One end of the eustress scale, is when the body/mind is performing at peek in order to fulfil its primordial instinct for survival. This is the fight and flight mechanism, which is the natural short-lived response to stress and includes the release of a fine cocktail of hormones, endorphins, blood sugars, cholesterol, insulin and is responsible for the shutdown of the entire digestive system. All this can be a life-saver in times of 'old-fashioned' danger. Professional athletes psyche themselves up to this state, or sadly sometimes take drugs to simulate it. At the other end of the eustress scale is the 'high' or excited tension you get when performing a task efficiently and with pleasure. Its the kind of high that makes one enjoy the work at hand and revel in the sheer joy of being human and accomplishing something which you feel is worthwhile.
Distress is mental pain which can manifest in physical pain and may be due to an excess of eustress. In early Chinese medicine the 'Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen' or the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine written some 4000 years ago (2697 BC.) says "........... When the spirit is hurt, severe pain ensues."
It is impossible to remove all stress from our environment and in fact some stress prepares us to meet life's challenges. It is when that stress becomes distress and we suddenly find difficulty coping, that we start to look for ways out of our predicament.
The stressful situation is not something that manifests overnight (unless you are James Bond). For most of us its origin is more often insidious and becomes a part of our life in the form of daily habits. The stress of daily life can be likened to snow falling on a mountain, each flake settling almost imperceptibly, until one day there is so much that it causes an avalanche. It's this covert build up of pressure within, which has the destructive force and which needs our attention and control. Disease doesn't just start one day. It develops and evolves over a period of time and eventually it can be the cause of our untimely demise from an active, fulfilling, and enjoyable life.
Or is it? enjoyable and fulfilling that is. The question 'are you happy' for most of us creates an element of stress in itself, because we are suddenly plunged back into that awful quandary of how to make and keep our lives happy. Stress is the opposite of happiness because by definition if you are happy you are not stressed out. So how should one deal with stress? There are many methods, but here are four ways which each one of us can adopt
1) A good sense of humour, 2) A good diet, 3) Alternate stresses, 4) Relaxation skills.
The formal education system which prevails has failed us, and is sadly failing to prepare our children to cope with stress. We don't tend to be proactive in such matters, rather we are satisfied with putting a plaster on the hurt when it occurs. Along with the three R's the above four subjects should form a core of the stress control curriculum in our schools.
We are conditioned towards the belief that the mature adult is serious and stolid, and that a pillar of society who is responsible and dependable "takes life seriously". Research suggests that laughter increases the body's level of endorphins. This can in fact "ease the pain" and increase the resistance to disease. Humour certainly ignites the will to live, which if missing, makes the recovery process much more difficult.
Diet is obviously important but is the subject of a separate discussion, so will not be covered now.
The first step in stress control is often to break the pattern that causes the stress. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but consider that in order to survive and remain healthy, the stressful situation or lifestyle must have a de-stressing element. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus had the same idea when he wrote 'Men do not know, how what is at variance agrees with itself, for in stress opposites combine to produce a motion which is a harmony'........ 'It is the opposite which is good for us'.
If one is under a great deal of daily stress, it is not good enough to lie down and stare at the ceiling or rattle around the TV remote control all evening. The mind continues to rehash the days problems and thus perpetuates the stress. One way to unwind is to switch to an alternate stress, which should be something that requires full concentration, but that involves different circuits of the brain and body. Thus whether active sport or a sedentary cerebral pursuit, as long as it contrasts to the original stressor, it can have tremendous value in reducing distress.
As already mentioned the de-stressing element must be an opposite, but it must also be of sufficient quantity to cause balance and harmony. It can take the form of such diverse activities as jogging, working out in a gym, yoga, martial arts, prayer, listening to music, power nap, drama, debating, or doing favourite odd jobs around the house. Pursuits such as squash, tennis, football and other sports can produce their own stress from the competitive element, which is opposite in nature to the daily distress from the work environment (be it office or home) and together with exercising the body provide a powerful balance to maintain health in body and mind.
Last, but perhaps the most important is knowing how to relax. To relax means to make less tense, and the best and perhaps only long term effective way is through meditation. The Buddhist philosophy teaches that all the pain of this cyclical life will be overcome when we reach enlightenment through meditative practices upon such stressors as Jealousy, Resentment and especially Desire. It matters not if your beliefs are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or any other, you can still meditate to relax,
Stress is manifest within our mind, and only through controlling our mind can it be dissipated.
The eighth-century Buddhist master Shantideva said:-
"If this elephant of mind is bound on all sides by the cord of mindfulness,
All fear disappears and complete happiness comes,
All enemies of our emotions, and all the keepers of hell;
the demons and the horrors,
All of these are bound by the mastery of your mind,
And by the taming of that one mind, all are subdued,
Because from the mind are derived all fears and immeasurable sorrows."
There are many books on meditation but there is no substitute for a teacher, a person who can introduce and guide you through the myriad of techniques for stilling the mind and looking into and getting to know the person within us, who is the perpetrator of all our problems.
Man however is not an Island and It is not always possible to resolve our problems without help either on the physical level or the energetic level (that part of us which alternative medicine such as Acupuncture, herbs and Homeopathy addresses).
Autogenic training, stress counselling, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, exercise all work to resolve the stressful situation. However I feel that whatever we do there must be that time in each and every day which is yours. The time when you don't do anything for anyone else, but just do it for yourself.
© ARMS 1995