Needle Notes 246
As threatening as breast cancer can be for women, prostate problems can be for men. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is located in the male pelvis and is wrapped around the urethra. The function of the prostate is to produce a fluid upon ejaculation that surrounds the sperm cells and protects them during their travel towards the ovaries. In other words this fluid helps the sperm cells to survive the acid environment of the vagina. The prostate gland grows slowly through life and has a tendency to keep growing later in life, just like a man’s nose and ears will do. The growing gland can eventually start to push on the urethra and on the base of the bladder. This will on the one hand give an urge to urinate, but at the same time urinating will be difficult because of the squeezing of the urethra. This process can be different for every man. For most men it will not really pose a problem and it is just something that belongs to getting older. For a smaller group of men it can become a problem. Many times the problem is most clear at night. It can be hard to get going, even when the urge to pee is strong and sometimes it can take minutes before the first drop of urine appears.
The prostate can be inflamed and the inflammation causes swelling and pain. The swelling interrupts the flow of urine. Antibiotics will help to suppress the inflammation and make urinating easier again. Inflammation of the prostate is not cancer. Another condition of the prostate is called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, a condition that affects about 25% of men over 40, and about 80% of men over 80. This is an enlargement of the prostate, not being inflammation and not being cancer. Common BPH symptoms are
Increased frequency of urination Waking often in the night to urinate Difficulty starting urine flow A strong and immediate urge to urinate A weak urine stream Post-urination dribble Feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.
The last and most worrisome prostate condition is cancer. Prostate cells put out a small amount of protein, called prostatic specific antigen (PSA), which may be detected using a blood test. This is one way to confirm the existence of prostate cancer, but there is still a lot of controversy about the usefulness of the PSA-value. Treatment is concentrated on surgery and drugs.
In Chinese Medicine a tumor, benign or malign, has a Yin character. The accumulation of cells that are localized on one spot and don’t move is an accumulation of Yin energy and needs to be treated with Yang. The prostate is located in the pelvis and the most important meridians that affect this area are the Governor and the Bladder meridian. The Governor meridian is the master meridian of Yang energy and the most important one in the treatment of prostate problems. Of course the Bladder line needs to be involved for obvious reasons. The treatment with acupuncture for prostate conditions is a combination of using (yin) points on the lower abdomen to move the stagnated yin energy and yang points on the opposite side on the back to strengthen the yang. The application of warmth can help disperse the blocked energy. In Chinese Medicine there are also herbs that can help improve the situation of an enlarged prostate. Acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of BPH, inflammation and cancer of the prostate. Acupuncture can also help with the reduction of pain. Consider acupuncture as an alternative treatment for your prostate problems. It is natural, mild and uses your body’s own defenses in the treatment of this condition. Pieter Rijke is a Kelowna based physiotherapist who specializes in acupuncture since 25 years. He operates the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre downtown and can be reached at 250 861-8863 or at www.okanaganacupuncture.com