While men around the world are growing moustaches in support of Movember to raise awareness of prostate health, recent research has found that an indigenous medical herb could be the key to preventing and treating some prostate health issues.
For hundreds of years Buchu has helped to effectively manage a range of ailments, including bladder infections, joint pain, skin conditions, common colds, gut-related ailments, and hypertension. It has now been found to also hold properties that help to treat and prevent enlargement of the prostate gland.
As men age, the prostate – a gland found between the bladder and the penis – can grow from the size of a walnut, to the size of an apricot or even a lemon. This can place pressure on the bladder and urethra, resulting in difficulty to urinate, painful urination, leakage after urination or feelings of fullness in the bladder. It can also lead to urinary tract or bladder infections.
A recent report by Harvard Medical School estimated that by age 60, half of all men will have an enlarged prostate, a condition also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). By age 85, the proportion reaches 90%.
The enlargement of the prostate gland has not been linked to prostate cancer, but it can affect quality of life.
A local wonder herb
Prof Bouic, an immunopathologist and medical researcher at Stellenbosch University, has been studying the health benefits of the Agathosma (Buchu) plant for over 15 years.
“The anti-inflammatory properties of Buchu have been found effective in addressing both mild prostatitis (infection in the prostate) as well as the enlargement of this organ. The anti-infective properties of Buchu oil assist in ridding the body of any organisms causing infection. Both conditions are very often associated with poor fertility outcomes in men,” Prof Bouic explains.
The enlargement of the prostate is an inflammation-driven phenomenon, he adds, which means that prevention can definitely be achieved through the regular use of Buchu.
“Switching off the inflammatory mechanism would ultimately lead to the regression of the condition before it becomes chronic and needing potent medications,” he says.
Buchu can safely be used long-term without yielding side effects and is also safe to use in combination with other prostate-specific drugs, Prof Bouic explains.
But Buchu can assist with general health in men as well. Buchu extracts are natural sources of several bioflavonoids, important vitamins and other molecules that stimulate urinary output.
In addition, this wonder herb contains molecules that stimulate blood circulation.
“In some cases, improved erectile function has been reported. There is abundant scientific data to prove the potent anti-inflammatory properties as well as the anti-infective, anti-obesity and cholesterol lowering action,” he says.