The prostate gland is an organ, the size of a chestnut, located just below the urinary bladder in males. It affords a passage to the urethra that conveys urine from the bladder to the exterior. From the age of 40 years and above, the prostate gland can enlarge as a result division and increase in the number of cells within it. This condition which is often accompanied by difficulty with urination and other urinary symptoms is referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is benign because the dividing cells are not cancerous and therefore cannot spread to other parts of the body.
Urinary symptoms are often due to compression and narrowing of the prostatic urethra and these include:
- Delay in initiating urination
- Poor stream of urine
- Multiple interruptions of urine flow
- Straining to pass urine
- Feeling of residual urine in the bladder after urination
- Increase in the nocturnal and day-time frequency of urination
- Pain while urinating and
- Inability to hold urine before getting to the restroom
In severe cases there may be a complete inability to urinate with or without pain (acute or chronic urinary retention). Patients are at risk of urinary tract infection and may develop kidney damage from back pressure effect.
Depending on symptom severity, treatment options include watchful waiting, use of medications, and surgical removal of the enlarged prostate. However, each of these treatments is not without its own demerits.
Acupuncture for BPH.
A study treated 47 patients who had mild-moderate BPH symptoms with electroacupuncture stimulus on the lower back for 30 min. on alternate days while another 46 patients were treated with medication (terazosin). Those treated with electroacupuncture had better symptoms resolution and improvement in urinary flow as evidenced by reduction in post-void residual urine.1
Similar result was obtained from another study where 50 out of 100 patients treated with electroacupuncture had a higher reduction in severity of symptoms at 6 weeks and 18 weeks over their counterparts who had non-acupuncture treatment.2
Yu et al. also applied twice weekly electroacupuncture treatment of 20min. duration for a total 12 weeks. A better improvement in symptoms was seen in them over those treated with sham acupuncture. Those treated with electroacupuncture recorded improvement in average and maximal flow rate with increase in voiding volume.3 Electroacupuncture therefore, is an effective treatment modality for patients with mild-moderate symptoms from BPH.
- Yang T, Zhang XQ, Feng YW. Efficacy of electroacupuncture in treating 93 patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2008 Nov;28(11):998-1000.
- Yang Wang, Baoyan Liu, Jinna Yu, Jiani Wu, Jing Wang, and Zhishun Liu, Electroacupuncture for Moderate and Severe Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2013; 8(4): e59449. Published online 2013 Apr 12. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059449
- Jung-Sheng Yu, Kun-Hung Shen, Wen-Chi Chen, Jiann-Shyan Her, and Ching-Liang Hsieh Effects of Electroacupuncture on Benign Prostate Hyperplasia Patients with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms: A Single-Blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 303198. Published online 2011 Apr 13. doi: 10.1155/2011/303198