A Prostatitis Case Study
By Joseph Nolan, Medical Herbalist
The prostate is an important structure of the male reproductive system, responsible for producing about 30% of the seminal fluid so that the sperm start their journey in a nourishing and protective environment. The walnut-sized gland sits at the base of the bladder with the urethra (the tube which carries urine and semen out of the body though the penis) passing through it.
Prostitis is when the gland becomes inflamed. This condition, usually caused by infection either of the gland itself or the urinary tract, may also be caused by urinary stones or gravel. It may also be the result of trauma due to sexual activity or medical procedures. Acute prostatitis may present with fever and general unwellness, including flu-like aches and fatigue, with or without specific prostate symptoms. Chronic prostatitis can come and go over many years.
Common symptoms include:
Pain and tenderness of the gland
Discomfort on urination
Bladder and rectal discomfort
Generalised pelvic pain
Richard is a pretty typical case. He’s 34 and has been essentially healthy, with no atopic conditions (asthma, eczema, hay fever), digestive problems, mental health concerns, urinary or reproductive issues, or skin conditions. He cycles most places and goes to the gym twice a week. Richard takes no prescribed medication or supplements, although he does use Gaviscon for heartburn sometimes, and takes paracetamol a few times a month for headaches. He does not smoke, uses cannabis infrequently, and drinks moderately at weekends. He has a stressful creative job, does not not sleep very well, drinks up to six coffees daily, and has a tendency to wake up and check his email at night. Richard reports that while his job is a source of considerable stress, he enjoys the pressure and creativity, and gets on well with his colleagues. He is single after a recent breakup and does not have a current sexual partner.
Richard came to see me because he had been experiencing two weeks of feeling generally unwell, with fatigue, body aches, lethargy, and persistent chills. On questioning, he was aware of discomfort on urination and ejaculation, and had been walking or bussing to work rather than cycling in a bid to conserve his energy.
I gave Richard a pretty typical mix, with herbs for improving lymphatic flow and blood circulation, anti-infectives, anti-inflammatory and pain reliving plants, plus some botanical medicines with a specific affinity for the prostate gland. I give people tinctures containing herbs that do not extract well in water and have more challenging flavours, and teas of nice tasting soothing herbs. So I gave Richard both and told him to stay off his bike, take a couple of days off work, give the gym a miss for at least a week and then restart gently. I also advised him take hot baths to sooth his pelvic area. In addition, I recommended plenty of fluids, as water, soup, and tea, are also helpful to keep immune cells and herbs moving around the body.
By the time of Richard’s two week follow up, he was much improved. The flu-like feelings had resolved, his energy was nearly back to normal, he had been to the gym, and the urethral discomfort was gone. He still felt the occasional ache, but was quite relived.
While Richard was fortunate and the initial prescription worked for him and worked quickly, sometimes the blend can need a little tweaking. In some men, urethral pain or prostatic aching may persist, with sitting down or driving problematic. Other men find that the general feeling of unwellness and fatigue can linger, requiring a lot of lifestyle and dietary adjustment, in addition to herbs. Sometimes men are prone to urinary tract infections, and that weakness can need special attention with herbs and supplements.
Prostatitis can be a really miserable condition, and In my experience it is surprisingly common. Luckily, though, it responds quite well to herbal treatment and usually resolves without too much back talk.