November is Movember. It’s when men around the world grow moustaches to raise awareness about men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer, and mental wellbeing.

Prostate health should be top of mind all year round, with more than half of South African men at risk of developing an enlarged prostate and being the most common benign tumour in men over the age of 60.

But recent research has found the key to preventing and treating this condition may lie in an indigenous medicinal herb: Buchu.

The natural solution

As men age, the prostate 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%.

While prostate gland enlargement has not been linked to prostate cancer, it can affect quality of life.

Fortunately, the latest research has shown that the South African indigenous herb, Buchu, holds properties that help to treat and prevent enlargement of the prostate gland.

While many men turn to prescription drugs to treat BPH, there is a natural homegrown alternative, explains immunopathologist and medical researcher, Professor Patrick Bouic, who has studied the health benefits of the Agathosma (Buchu) plant for over 15 years.

Buchu has helped to effectively manage a range of ailments for hundreds of years, including bladder infections, joint pain, skin conditions, common colds, gut-related ailments, and hypertension.

A local wonder herb

Buchu has been found to possess anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive, anti-obesity and cardiovascular protective properties, but recent research carried out at Stellenbosch University has now found it to have properties that fight conditions such as the enlargement of the prostate.

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.

Prostate enlargement 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.