— Dr Kulwant Singh
Dean: Faculty of Homoeopathy, Vinoba Bhave University
One of the hot spots in the body. It is reddish brown, size of an English walnut. It can disturb one’s sleep by requiring several trips to the bathroom each night or kill a man by producing uremic poisoning. In old age it can become a site for cancer too. The prostate is a gland which contributes greatly to one’s sexual life. It is a principal storage depot for the seminal fluid, without which chances of pregnancy will be about zero. At each ejaculation, testicles provide over 150-200 million sperms cells. The prostate produces a fluid that dilutes them and this fluid contains proteins, enzymes, fats and sugars to nourish the fragile sperm, alkalinity to overcome the deadly acidity of the female tract and a watery medium in which the sperm can swim towards female egg.
It is very astonishing fact to know that the condition BPH has been explained in Ayurvedic texts long back. The anatomical position of the prostate gland, symptoms of prostate enlargement and its remedies are explained in Acharya Sushruta. The anatomical position of prostate gland is described in Ayurvedic classics as follows. In Yogaratnakara it has been described as –
“Naabheradhasthaatsanjaatha Sanchaari Yadi Vaachalaha
Ashteelaavad Ghano Granthiroodhwar Maayata Unnataha”
Which means “Below umbilicus (NAABHI), there is a hard gland which is little bit bulged and changes its place some times and some times stays stationary. This gland is like “Ashteela” (A small stone used to sharpen swords). This gland when affected by vitiated vata causes a disease called “vataashteela” (or benign prostate hypertrophy).
Sushruta explains the structure, anatomical position of prostate gland and the symptoms of prostate enlargement as follows.
“Shacranmaargasya Basheshcha Vaayurantaramaashritaha
Ashteelaavadghanam Granthimmoordhvamaayata Munnatam”
Which means – the place between rectum and bladder is occupied by vitiated vata it affects the easy flow of urine, stools and semen by enlarging the gland “ Ashteela”.
From the size of an almond in puberty, due to hormonal signals, it grows in size. It has three lobes or sections, enclosed side by side in a capsule. The small urinary tube that empties the bladder, passes over the middle lobe. Anything that happens there to swell the prostate — infection, inflammation, cancer, hypertrophy – can enlarge these lobes and thus obstruct the flow of urine , causing a wide spectrum of misery. With partial obstruction, urine backs up in the bladder and becomes a stagnant pool; bacteria often invade the pool, multiply and cause serious infection, retention, hydronephrosis etc. In an adult male, the prostate usually weighs about 20 grams. Almost all of this mass develops during puberty in response to hormonal changes associated with maturation. The prostate literally doubles in size during puberty. If a man is lucky, and some are, the prostate never again undergoes any changes in size. Unfortunately, for men between the age of 40 and 59, nearly 60% can be shown to already be suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostate enlargement. This usually does not present a noticeable problem until after the age of 50. By the age of 80, however, some 85% of all men suffer from one or more symptoms of BPH. As the prostate enlarges, the layer of tissue surrounding it stops it from expanding, causing the gland to press against the urethra like a clamp on a garden hose. The bladder wall becomes thicker and irritable. The bladder begins to contract even when it contains small amounts of urine, causing more frequent urination. Eventually, the bladder weakens and loses the ability to empty itself and urine remains in the bladder. The narrowing of the urethra and partial emptying of the bladder cause many of the problems associated with prostate enlargement.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (formerly called hypertrophy) in some ways is the male equivalent of menopause. The primary effect of BPH is a progressive decrease in the ability to empty the bladder as the prostate enlarges and applies pressure to the urethra. Retained urine from this obstruction at first can interfere with sleep as the sufferer wakes up in the middle of the night. At other times, pressure may make it impossible to properly control urine flow (incontinence). Retained urine in the bladder can allow bacterial growth and infection. Urine may flow back up the tubules to the kidneys and cause infection there. In severe cases of retention, urine even can find its way into the blood (uremia) with toxic consequences.