Polyphenols are the active ingredients in green tea that may be responsible for helping manage benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH.
Polyphenols are chemical compounds found in a category called phytochemicals, which occur naturally in plants.
Various studies have shown that the prostate absorbs polyphenols more easily than other tissues in the body. This suggests that the prostate should be receptive to polyphenols when used in the management of BPH.
Why manage BPH with green tea?
Green tea is popular for its purported health benefits.
Green tea has increased in popularity and is now the second most consumed beverage in the world.
As a beverage, green tea is an alternative to coffee and soft drinks, with the added health benefits from the polyphenol compounds present.
Polyphenols are plentiful in plant foods, and are:
What are the active ingredients in green tea?
Green tea's active ingredients include:
- epigallocatechin (EGC)
- gallic acid
- chlorogenic acid
- caffeic acid
- other polyphenols
In recent animal trials and in vitro studies in laboratories, one particular polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) appears to have promising results. EGCG reduced the over-production of cells and even prevented the onset of BPH.
What do the studies say?
It is worth noting that most studies into green tea have been done outside the human body, for example, in lab cultures or animals. These studies also use concentrated versions of polyphenols, not the green tea itself, or other whole foods.
Overall, specific polyphenols, some of which occur in green tea, have been found to treat the causes and symptoms of BPH. This suggests that green tea could assist in managing BPH alongside medications and other treatments.
Other health benefits of green tea
Green tea has a wide variety of health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Obesity and diabetes
Studies suggest that green tea might help with weight management, alongside exercise and improvement of diet. More studies are needed, however, to confirm the positive effects conclusively.
Green tea may also be able to assist in glucose control in people with metabolic syndrome.
Furthermore, some studies suggest there is a link between metabolic syndrome and diseases of the prostate.
Metabolic syndrome causes an increase in free radicals in the body. This increases oxidative stress, which is considered a risk factor for developing BPH.
Increasing intake of polyphenol-containing foods such as green tea may help manage metabolic syndrome and other conditions at the same time.
Using green tea for health benefits
Whatever the health reason for someone consuming green tea, it is essential to continue taking required medications, eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit, exercising, and making regular visits to a doctor.
Medical and herbal treatments for BPH
There are a variety of treatments for BPH, and which procedure is used depends on the severity of the condition, what the individual finds tolerable, and the associated side effects.
Eating plenty of fruit and fiber may help to treat BPH.
If symptoms are not too bad people can implement a few lifestyle changes to manage BPH.
- drinking less alcohol
- checking medication
- eating more fruit and fiber
- trying urethral massage
- using pads or sheaths during the day
- double voiding the bladder
- emptying the bladder often
There are two types of medications that have been found to be effective in treating BPH.
- 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors
Other medications used may include:
- loop diuretic
Medications are only useful for treating BPH and do not prevent the condition. However, they also come with some side effects.
People may choose natural alternatives and lifestyle changes if the side effects of their medication are worse than their BPH symptoms.
Side effects include:
- drop in blood pressure upon standing (postural hypertension)
- nasal congestion
- sexual dysfunction
Other sources of polyphenols
Polyphenols, in general, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the body. Many polyphenols have been used in animal and clinical trials to determine if these can help manage symptoms of BPH.
Specific foods can be incorporated into the diet to help manage BPH alongside medications. These foods are listed here followed by the active ingredient or ingredients they contain:
- Green tea — EGC.
- Flaxseeds and sesame seeds — secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, lignans, and enterolactone.
- Fava beans and soybeans — genistein.
- Soy and peanuts — biochanin.
- Soya — equol and anthocyanins.
- Tomatoes — lycopene.
People should be cautious about using concentrated versions of polyphenols as there is too little research on possible side effects. Also, they could affect other medications a person is taking or have other unwanted side effects.
It is best to try and obtain all your nutrients through whole foods when possible.
Other home remedies
Herbal remedies are another type of home treatment that could also assist in managing BPH.
Saw palmetto and red stinkwood have both been shown to help manage symptoms.
People should be cautious if using herbal remedies, however, as they may affect other medications.
Surgery is a further option if other treatments for BPH have not helped to alleviate symptoms.
Many men find surgery effective, but it does not always alleviate symptoms immediately or to the desired level.
When to see a doctor
Diagnosing BPH earlier may make it easier to treat.
If someone experiences the symptoms of BPH, they should visit their doctor.
A treatment plan should be discussed with a doctor before using home remedies or natural therapies.
Fortunately, living with BPH does not mean a person is more likely to get prostate cancer than someone without the condition. Improvements to diet, management with medication, and attempting to decrease risk factors, mean the outlook is good.
Adding green tea as a beverage to the diet could also be helpful in managing BPH, as well as chronic inflammation associated with metabolic disorder and obesity.
If adding green tea to the diet replaces soft drinks and other high-calorie beverages, there is the added benefit of reducing calories from foods that often have poor nutritional value.