HERBS AND NUTRIENTS FOR A HAPPY PROSTATE: STINGING NETTLE
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a perennial herb with stinging hairs found in the United States mostly in forests, mountains, weedy, undisturbed areas and roadsides. Extracts of the roots have been used for the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis in Germany. One trademarked named in Europe is Bazoton. Extracts from Stinging nettle contain a number of substances including caffeic acid, malic acid, polysaccharides and probably many other compounds, including lectins, lignans, and phytosterols.
The tolerability and effectiveness of a combination preparation comprised of SP and Urtica extract were tested in 2080 patients with mild to moderate prostate enlargement. The study was done in the offices of hundreds of urologists in Germany. A before-and-after comparison revealed most patients showing an improvement in prostate symptoms and quality of life. For the most part, the treating doctors assessed the effectiveness of the preparation to be "good" or "very good." Out of the 2080 patients, only 15 were suspected to have developed mild side effects.
There has also been a study giving the combination of Urtica and Pygeum. The study was done in Warsaw, Poland and involved 134 patients (aged 53 to 84 years) who had symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. The patients were randomly assigned to receive two capsules of the standard dose of an Urtica/Pygeum preparation (300 mg of Urtica dioica root extract combined with 25 mg of Pygeum bark extract) or two capsules containing half the standard dose twice daily for 8 weeks. After 28 days of treatment, urine flow increased and residual urine volume and nocturia were significantly reduced in both treatment groups. After 56 days of treatment, further significant improvements were noted in both groups. Only 5 out of the 134 patients reported any adverse effects and no one discontinued the treatment because of these side effects.
How does Urtica work? The mechanisms of this herb are not clearly understood. However, one possibility is that specific extracts of Urtica have the ability to influence a protein in blood, called serum hormone binding globulin (SHBG), to bind itself to prostate cells. SHBG carries testosterone and estrogen with it in the bloodstream, and it also can go into the prostate gland. It's possible that this protein, by binding to prostate cells, influences their growth. By blocking this binding, Urtica could help prevent another way that the prostate gland can enlarge.
A further mechanism could be Urtica's ability to block inflammatory chemicals within the prostate tissue. One of these is leukotriene B4. With time scientists will find additional mechanisms by which extracts from Urtica influence prostate tissue.
Each of these herbs has a different method of action. As reviewed in a previous chapter, the growth of the prostate gland could have many causes. By addressing many of these factors, the response rate could be higher and patients would get more benefit than just taking one herb, or by just taking one drug, such as Proscar, that has one way of working, that is, blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
The recommended dose of Urtica is 50 to 150 mg twice daily, although the research with this herb is more limited than with SP and more information is certainly required before giving any firm recommendations.