Naturopathic (Natural) Medicine and Prostate Cancer

The man who has received a diagnosis of prostate cancer may have many questions and treatment decisions to make. Conventional doctors use watchful waiting as an alternative to surgery or drugs for men who are diagnosed in the early stages of cancer and elderly men because prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer and it can be years before symptoms become a problem. The doctor monitors the patient's condition for any change that may indicate the need for treatment.

From a naturopathic perspective, watchful waiting is a specific treatment because changes are made to the patient's diet and herbs and supplements are prescribed. Benefits to watchful waiting include improving overall health; providing time for the patient to evaluate options and treatments; reducing or eliminating the need for surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation; and producing minimal side effects. Regular digital rectal exams and PSA monitoring are conducted during watchful waiting, and if indicated, more aggressive treatment is initiated.

Prostate cancer patients undergoing conventional therapies also benefit from nutritional and herbal support. Presurgical and postsurgical support suggestions are provided below.

Because naturopathic treatment is geared to the individual needs of the patient, it is best, if possible, to have a licensed naturopathic physician or holistic MD or DO determine which naturopathic therapies are most appropriate. The situation is best when all physicians—holistic and allopathic—work together to develop an optimal treatment plan.

Nutrition & Prostate Cancer

Nutrition plays a very important role in cancer treatment. Scientific evidence shows that nutrition and physical activity are the two most important modifiable risk factors to alter the course of cancer, prevent its occurrence, and stop its progression. Remember, you are what you eat. Poor nutrition provides a favorable environment for cancer to grow and develop. Proper nutrition supports the immune system, starves cancer cells, and provides micro- and macronutrients.

  • Avoid sugar (the preferred food of cancer), dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, junk foods, caffeine, alcohol, nitrates, and food coloring. Limit high-fat (e.g., saturated and trans fats) foods, particularly red meat, which have been implicated in prostate cancer.
  • Eliminate food sensitivities. Use an elimination and challenge diet to determine food sensitivities.
  • Drink 50% of body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., a 150 lb person would drink 75 oz of water). Drink spring or distilled water; avoid chlorine and fluoride.

Supplements & Prostate Cancer

Supplements are intended to provide nutritional support. Because a supplement or a recommended dose may not be appropriate for all persons, a physician (e.g., a licensed naturopathic physician or holistic MD or DO) should be consulted before using any product. Recommended doses follow:

  • Curcumin - 400 mg 3 times daily. Curcumin is a yellow pigment in Turmeric
    (Curcuma longa) with strong anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fractionated citrus pectin (also called modified citrus pectin or MCP) - 6 grams 2 times daily. MCP powder is usually dissolved in a small amount of water and then diluted juice. It interferes with cancer cells' ability to aggregate and attach to healthy cells and inhibits cancer cell growth.
  • Genistein - 200 mg daily. An isoflavone that inhibits the growth of cancer cells and acts as an antioxidant. Soy nuts are high in genistein.
  • Green tea - Drink at least 4 cups a day or take a standardized extract. Inhibits cancer cell growth and induces apoptosis (programmed cell death).
  • Lycopene - 10 mg daily. A carotenoid found primarily in tomatoes.
  • Melatonin - 20 mg daily. Inhibits cancer cell growth and potentiates the beneficial effects of chemotherapy and radiation while reducing their side effects.
  • Selenium - 400–800 mcg daily. A potent antioxidant.
  • Vitamin D - .25–.50 mcg daily. Inhibits cancer cell growth and may induce apoptosis.
  • Vitamin E succinate - 1200–1600 IUs daily. Inhibits cancer cell growth and promotes normal cell division.
  • Zinc - 1550 mg daily. As zinc competes with copper for absorption, it is important to supplement with copper. Zinc supplements containing copper are available. Supports immune function.

Herbal Medicine & Prostate Cancer

Herbal medicines rarely have significant side effects when used appropriately and at suggested doses. Occasionally, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, it is recommended that only high-quality products be used. As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.

  • Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) - Recommended dose is 300 mg 3 times daily. Inhibits 5-alpha reductase (which converts testosterone [T] to dihydrotestosterone [DHT], an androgen 5 times more potent than T, which drives the growth of prostate cancer cells). Do not use this herb if on triple hormone blockade.
  • Milk thistle(Silybum marianum)- Protects the liver from drugs and toxins and builds liver health.

Prostate Cancer Presurgical Support

Measures may be taken, starting 2 weeks before surgery, to prevent surgical complications, reduce pain and swelling, speed healing, support the immune system, and reduce or prevent the spread of cancer cells.

  • Avoid products that reduce clotting (increase bleeding) – Aspirin, gingko, and vitamin E. Also avoid hypericum (St. John's wort), valerian, and kava.
  • General nutrition recommendations - Avoid alcohol, recreational drugs, tobacco, caffeine, sugar, and fried foods. Increase fiber, protein, vegetables, bioflavonoids, essential fatty acids, and water.
  • Fractionated citrus pectin (also called modified citrus pectin or MCP) - Recommended dose is 6 grams 2 times daily to help prevent the spread of cancer cells. MCP powder is usually dissolved in a small amount of water and then diluted juice.
  • Vitamin A - Recommended dose is 25,000–50,000 (5000 during pregnancy) IUs daily to support healing and immunity.
  • Vitamin B complex - Recommended dose is 50–00 mg daily to support healing.
  • Vitamin C - Recommended dose is 2000–5000 mg daily to support immunity, reduce bruising and swelling, and provide antioxidant activity.
  • Zinc - Recommended dose is 60 mg daily to speed healing, promote tissue healing, and support immunity.

Prostate Cancer Postsurgical Support

Measures may be taken, continuing for 4 weeks after surgery, to prevent surgical complications, reduce pain and swelling, speed healing, support the immune system, and reduce or prevent the spread of cancer cells.

  • Bromelain - Recommended dose is 400 mg 3 times a day away from meals to reduce inflammation, reduce thrombophlebitis, and increase effectiveness of antibiotics.
  • Curcumin - Recommended dose is 400 mg several times daily for pain.
  • Homeopathy - Take over-the-counter homeopathic remedies for physical trauma according to product directions.
  • Presurgical support - Continue to follow recommendations.
  • Protein shakes - Drink daily for an easily absorbed source of amino acids.
  • Vitamin E - Recommended dose is 800 mg daily to reduce thrombophlebitis, support immunity, and reduce adhesions. Because vitamin E is an antiplatelet aggregate, it should not be taken until surgical bleeding has stopped.

The following link provides information about naturopathic chemotherapy and radiation support.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Jan 2001

Last Modified: 05 Dec 2011