weight loss

A Naturopathic Understanding of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia


Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH

BPH is a highly prevalent imbalance in aged men, characterized by dysregulation of cell growth of the prostate epithelium and stroma.  The prevalence increases from 8% to 50% once a man reaches 50 years of age. Symptoms include urinary frequency, urgency, straining, and incomplete voiding of urine.  BPH can lead to prostate cancer in some men, and so it is important to take preventative measures, and make changes to reverse or minimize the risk factors.


Metabolism, or breakdown of testosterone

Testosterone is metabolized to DHT via an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, and is metabolized to estrogen via aromatase enzyme.  There is research showing both DHT pro_prostateand estrogen directly contribute to BPH.  Normal regulated metabolism of testosterone in a healthy man does not create the environment for BPH.  Answers to healing or preventing BPH lie in reducing the metabolism, or rather, reducing the overstimulation of metabolism to these downline metabolites – estrogen and DHT and in addition to reducing inflammation in the body overall.


Stress and BPH

Harvard study showed two mechanisms are involved.  Stress increases both adrenaline and testosterone.  Adrenaline is triggered to release by the sympathetic nervous system and constricts blood vessels in smooth muscle including the prostate and bladder. This mechanism can make it difficult for a man to urinate.  Testosterone is produced in addition to other stress hormones triggered by the hypothalamus and the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG axis).


Testosterone replacement therapy

There has been much debate over testosterone therapy and BPH.  Low testosterone in men has been recognized and treated with testosterone replacement therapy for many years now.  Low testosterone can contribute to erectile dysfunction, low mood, insulin resistance and obesity in men.  Testosterone therapy in hypo gonadal men (those with low testosterone) who have BPH, showed improvement in 31% of the 120 patients.  This is a small study, however, it shows that clearly there are other factors than testosterone alone involved in the development of BPH.  Another study of Japanese men showed those with the highest testosterone levels had the smallest prostates, and those with the highest estrogen levels, had the largest.  Alcohol increases aromatase enzyme which creates more estrogen from testosterone.  So the combination of frequent alcohol consumption and testosterone therapy may lead to BPH symptoms.


Exercise and BPH

Harvard study of 3743 participants, found an inverse relationship between physical activity and BPH, even low to moderate activity.  The reason is unknown, one theory is that exercise ultimately lowers activity of the sympathetic nervous system.  Also, the study showed that those who spent the most time watching television were twice as likely to have BPH symptoms.



BPH is highly likely in a man who is obese.  Obesity can be measured by height/weight ratio or BMI (body mass index) over 30.  A Harvard study of over 25,000 men concluded that if a man’s waist is more than 43 inches in circumference, they are 2.4 times more likely to need surgery for their BPH than a man whose waist is less than 35 inches.  Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, cardiovascular disease and increased inflammation in the body all are strongly associated with BPH.  Excess adipose tissue on the body (fat) alone, without the other factors, can cause BPH due to the estrogenic activities in the fat tissue, especially abdominal fat.  Obesity and insulin resistance are associated with increased 5-alpha reductase activity, which metabolizes testosterone to DHT and stimulates prostate growth.


Understanding insulin resistance

Cells of the body need glucose to grow and function.  Insulin is responsible for helping the glucose get into the cells.  When a diet rich in carbohydrates or is eaten on a regular basis, the baseline insulin levels rise to lower the blood glucose level.  The cells then become resistant to the “call” of insulin.  This leads to higher and higher levels of insulin, which signals the body to store make triglycerides to store fat.  Insulin resistance causes abdominal fat deposits, and obesity.


Prolactin levels

The hormone prolactin in men is involved in BPH.  Prolactin increases the effect of the androgens, both testosterone and DHT on the proliferation of sexual organs, including prostate.  Ones level of sexual satisfaction in both men and women has correlated with levels of prolactin.  Drinking beer can also increase prolactin levels, and also increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, which can worsen BPH.  Prolactin is also increased by hypothyroidism and by smoking marijuana. High dose pyridoxine or B6 has been found to lower prolactin levels in men.



Prostate cells contain the highest amount of zinc of any cell in the body.  Zinc has been shown to dramatically reduce the prostate cell’s rate of growth. Zinc plays an important role in regulating prostate cell growth.  Pumpkin seeds contain a high amount of zinc.  They also contain beta-sitosterol which is a fatty compound that blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT.  A German study of over 2500 patients showed pumpkin seed extract reduced BPH symptoms by 41%.  An Australian study linked heavy metals in the body to BPH.  Heavy metals block zinc.  Other toxins linked to BPH are poly aromatic hydrocarbons and BPA, BPA was found to bind to zinc.


Inflammation and NFkB and how to reduce it naturally

NFkB is a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies that is activated in immune cells and increases the production of cytokines (inflammatory) and growth factors (can cause BPH) that can cause a normal cell to lose its regulatory mechanisms and become a cancer cell.  To prevent BPH and cancer, it is important to inhibit or reduce the level of NFkB in our bodies.  NFkB is increased when cells are exposed to high glucose for prolonged periods of time, such as in obesity, diabetes, and insulin-resistance.  Eating a Mediterranean diet, meditation and yoga have shown to inhibit NFkB.

Much research has been done on vitamins and nutrients that reduce inflammation and NFkB activation.  These include vitamin C, vitamin E, N-acetylcysteine, S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe), Alpha Lipoic Acid, Zinc, and EPA/DHA (omega 3 fatty acids).  Also curcumin, lycopene, resveratrol, EGCG from green tea, capsaicin, licorice root extract, clove extract, basil, rosemary extracts, ginger and pomegranate fruit extract have studies that show they decrease or inhibit NFkB.  Plants and vitamins all affect NFkB in different ways to exert the health benefits and modulate these inflammatory processes.

lycopene tomato

Plant medicine

Botanicals with multiple positive studies showing effectiveness in reducing the mechanisms involved in BPH.  Saw palmetto berry extract, when taken with selenium and lycopene, blocks conversion of testosterone to DHT.  Pygeum africanum blocks DHT’s activation of the receptors on the prostate cell.  Stinging nettle reduces the size of epithelial cells of the prostate.  It has shown effectiveness equal to the drug finasteride and does not have side effects.  Remember to find products with these in combination.  Botanicals work best together, as they are synergistic and have different modes of action on the prostate.  Standardized extracts of botanicals are more potent forms, as opposed to raw herb powder.


In conclusion, BPH can be prevented and or healed by making a few simple changes in our life.  I hope you are inspired to take some of this into consideration and share the information with your loved ones.  Here is where we can make a difference, by working with our body to create an environment that will promote health, rather than disease.  Natural medicine can play a role.  As always, if you have questions, please Contact Me.  Be well!


The Science behind Raspberry Ketones

Who can resist the beauty of a red raspberry?  Their aroma is just as nice.  And what an amazing discovery, the power of the ketone molecule in that aroma!  Raspberry ketones are very small molecules called “phenols”.  They are found in raspberries, and also cranberries, 200px-Raspberry_ketoneblackberries, and anise.  Here is a little bit of the science behind the miracle of raspberry ketones.

Studies show Raspberry Ketones (RK) increase the breakdown of fat tissue directly with these two methods:

  1. Increasing the secretion of adiponectin in fat cells
  2. Increasing norepinephrine induced hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL)

Adiponectin is a hormone secreted by fat cells.  It is found in high amounts in thinner people and lower amounts in those that are overweight.  Adiponectin increases glucose uptake by the cells, increases insulin sensitivity, protects blood vessels from damage, and stimulates the break down lipids in fat tissue.   This shows promise for persons with Type 2 Diabetes, which is increasing in developing countries, and often exists undiagnosed.  Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or fatty liver is a condition related to diabetes, RK shows promise in protecting the liver from damage, improving cholesterol profiles, reversing insulin resistance and increasing overall anti-oxidant capacity.

What else can increase adiponectin?  Daily low mercury fish intake, a high fiber diet, and plenty of exercise!

Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) is needed to move fat stores into usable energy forms.  It is stimulated by norepinephrine, and inhibited by insulin.  Overweight or obese individuals (pre-diabetic) often have high levels of insulin, which makes it difficult for them to lose weight.  RK has been shown to stimulate HSL to move from the inside of the cell to the fatty tissues to break them down.   These findings were from animal studies, no human trials could be found.

What else can increase hormone sensitive lipase?  Aerobic exercise!

Remember for a free consult, contact the office at 480-607-0299 , or email me directly.  I’d love to talk to you!  Check out our facebook page and follow our feed on twitter.

Detox and lose weight with the far infrared sauna

Our world is full of toxic chemicals.  Never before have such large numbers of people been exposed daily to chemicals from building materials, home furnishings, food additives, solvents, pesticides, insecticides, heavy metals, phenols, formaldehyde, BPA’s, PCB;s and VOC’s.  These are found in hundreds of products we touch every day.  The problem is that these toxins accumulate in the body, commonly in the adipose or fat tissue, and eventually make us sick.  Toxins in the body are known to be part of the underlying cause of the following conditions.  Ever wonder if you are toxic?  Take the Toxicity Questionnaire and find out.

Some of the chronic illnesses associated with toxicity:


Chronic fatigue syndrome

Rheumatoid arthritis

Auto-immune conditions



Chronic pain

FIR sauna therapy is an effective way to get these toxins out of the body and heal from these chronic diseases.  FIR stands for Far Infra-Red, which are rays from the sun.

Recently, Oprah Winfrey, featured an FIR sauna on her show as a “life extension” device.  Dr. Oz, who was featured on the show, explained how the FIR can burn up to 700 calories in an hour.  The FIR also helps increase circulation, promote healing of tissues, lower blood pressure, and remove toxins through the skin.

Imagine relaxing in a sauna for 10-30 minutes 3-4 times per week and greatly benefiting your health at the same time.  The FIR sauna is not like regular dry or wet sauna found in health clubs. Sauna therapy with far-infrared sauna is quite unique.

How do the Far Infra-Red rays work in the body?  How are they different?

Far-infrared (FIR) rays are beneficial to the body by causing a physical phenomenon called cellular “resonance”.  This resonance invigorates the cells, promotes metabolism, blood circulation and cellular renewal.  Increased metabolism means that the cells use more energy, and release more waste products.  Fat soluble toxins are stored in fatty tissues of the body which are under the skin.  The FIR rays penetrate a few inches into the body, into the fatty tissue and stimulates the cells to release these toxins.  When the body sweats, these toxins are released.  Research studies confirm that toxins are released during sauna treatment.  The urine samples taken after sauna treatment  is complete contain less toxins.  

Other natural “side effects” or benefits of FIR sauna therapy include reducing pain in the body, blood pressure, joint stiffness, relief from muscle spasms, tissue healing, cellular rejuvenation and weight loss.  

Not all FIR saunas are alike.  Contact Dr. Wells to discuss the pro’s and con’s of various sauna’s prior to purchase. 

Check out Zazen Health Solutions for interesting research information or Heartspring for my research article on the subject.

Remember for a free consult, contact the office at 480-607-0299, or email me directly.  I’d love to talk to you!  Check out our facebook page and follow our feed on twitter.

Why can’t I lose weight?

Often I am faced with patients who desperately want to let go of extra pounds, but just can’t seem to do it.  Bless their hearts, they have tried every diet, every strategy, exercised 2 hours per day and don’t lose a pound.  Fortunately, when looking at these patients through the lens of naturopathic medicine, I can help.  Each person is unique.  Each has a different reason.  Today I would like to share with you how I look for underlying causes of weight challenges.

First, one must check for hormone imbalances.  Suboptimal hormones can put you in a “freeze zone” in regards to weight loss.  Second, one must put a plan together to optimize the body chemistry so it returns to its natural state… and natural size. Thyroid is a hormone that controls metabolism or how much energy is used in the resting state.  Most doctors check different markers and have different ranges.  So this change can make an extraordinary difference in how one feels.

Fatigue, weight gain, depression, constipation, hair loss, cold sensitivity, high cholesterol are symptoms of suboptimal thyroid function. Adrenal glands control our energy and respond to stress.  If you happen to be fatigued after a nights rest, you may consider evaluating your adrenal function.  Stress increases the hormone cortisol which increases cravings, especially for sugar and fat.  It also makes the body store fat in the abdominal area, around the vital organs.  So under-active adrenals make us too tired to get in our full workouts, and excessive adrenal function makes us eat the wrong foods! Inflammation is when the body is in “alarm” mode.  This produces excess water weight.  If you have stiffness in your hands and feet in the morning, or chronic pain, think inflammation.  There are many, many causes of inflammation, and the causes are different for each and every one.  If all major inflammatory diseases are ruled out, the best way to control inflammation is through diet.

First, I use food intolerance testing to find exactly what foods and food combinations are causing inflammation.   Second, I will recommend moving toward an anti-inflammatory diet.  Third, I check morning fasting insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar and so much more.  If insulin is high, losing weight is difficult.  Why would insulin be high you ask?  If sugar is in your blood and you are not using it for energy (sedentary), then your will secrete insulin to lower blood sugar.  With our habits, we will teach our pancreas how much insulin we need on a daily basis.  If we have a history of eating high carb meals or snacks, we most likely will have high insulin.  Our cells get tired of insulin always knocking to let more glucose into the cells, then it becomes resistant – insulin resistant. There are specific diets and monitoring needed in this case.  Insulin also controls lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc).

Once all these are in check, then the answer to weight loss is simply in input vs. output!

Be well!  Naturally! For more information, you may contact me with your questions and concerns, or call 480-607-0299 for a free phone consult.

Lose weight and feel great by eating more fiber

The weight loss and health benefits of fiber are vast.  When we eat fiber, food passes through the body quicker, less fat is absorbed.  We have a decreased appetite.  Our cholesterol level is decreased.  We use more calories because we have to chew longer and the stomach takes more time to digest.  Best of all, fiber is detoxifying to the body.

Dietary fiber is that part of plant cell walls, such as lignans and polysaccharides, which our bodies cannot digest.  There are two main types of fiber: insoluble and soluble.  The best known insoluble fiber is cellulose.  An example of this type of fiber is wheat bran.  Soluble fibers include: hemicelluloses like oat bran, gums, mucilages found in psyllium seeds, pectins in apples or lignans found in flax.  These water soluble gel-forming fibers provide many beneficial effects.  For your convenience, here is a list of high fiber foods .

Here are a few easy ways to increase our fiber intake:

Buy ground flax seeds.  Flax seeds contain both kinds of fiber. The seed hulls are insoluble, and internal lignans  are soluble.  I have patients grind flax seeds and put them in a shake.  2 heaping tablespoons per day.  They taste nutty and delicious. The lignans protect us against breast cancer, research shows. 

Eat brown rice.  Rice bran fiber helps you stay lean.  Rice bran is only in brown or wild rice, not white rice.  It absorbs fat in the large intestine, and helps heal the lining of the GI tract.  You can take it in capsule form or just eat brown rice, 1 cup per day. 

Eat more vegetables.  To get more fiber in, just eat more vegetables, don’t be afraid to sit down to a very large bowl of steamed broccoli  or kale and eat the whole thing! 

In addition to losing weight and feeling great, eating fiber increases your immune system, feeds the good pro-biotic bacteria there, keeps the gut lining healthy and strong, absorbs and pulls out excess hormones, fat and toxins from the body.  Remember, fiber is essential to detoxifying the body.  A diet rich in fiber reduces our risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, gall stones, and kidney stones.  The healthiest people on the planet are the ones that consume larger amounts of fiber. 

For a personalized detoxification, nutritional counseling or weight management plan, feel free to contact me directly.

Remember for a free consult, contact the office at 480-607-0299, or email me directly.  I’d love to talk to you!  Check out our facebook page and follow our feed on twitter.