Amidst the increasing global incidence of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and the promising potential of nutraceuticals as complementary therapies in ameliorating its burden, experts say cocoyam could serve as a safe food in the prevention and treatment of enlarged prostate.
In a new study, researchers said cocoyam, a commonly consumed food, can provide better options for management and/or prevention of enlarged prostate since it has fewer side effects, with the capacity to reduce prostate weight, total protein, as well as prostate specific antigen level.
An enlarged prostate is often called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is not cancer but a health issue that becomes more common with age. The prostate is a small gland that helps make semen. It’s found just below the bladder and it often gets bigger as a man gets older.
It can cause symptoms such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. It also can cause frequent or urgent need to urinate, urinating more often at night, trouble starting to urinate, dribbling at the end of urination, a weak urine stream or a stream that stops and starts.
Many treatments can help prostate enlargement. These include medicines, surgery and other procedures. But the right option depends on things such as the symptoms, size of the prostate and other coexisting health problems.
These treatment options are associated with severe side effects, including but not limited to organ toxicity and sexual dysfunction.
Cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta) is an important tropical root crop grown purposely for its starchy corms or underground stem. It is regarded as one of the most important staple crops in the Pacific Islands, Asia and Africa.
Various ethnic groups in Nigeria have different names for cocoyam, which attested to its nationwide distribution and use. It is known as ede/akaso/uli in Ibo, guaza in Hausa and koko pupa in Yoruba.
It has been used for treatment of various ailments, including asthma, arthritis, diarrhea, internal hemorrhage, neurological disorders and skin disorders. A decoction of the leaves is drunk to promote menstruation and to relieve stomach problems.
In New Guinea, the leaves are heated over a fire and are applied as a poultice to boil and the sap of the leaf stalk is used in treating conjunctivitis.
The report was in the June edition of the journal, BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.
Finasteride is the conventional medicine used to treat men with an enlarged prostate. It can help ease symptoms of enlarged prostate like difficulty to start urinating or urinating urgently or frequently more often. For instance, it is known to decrease the size of the prostate gland by about 25 percent.
In this study, 45 male albino rats were randomly assigned to nine groups of five rats each. Group 1 (normal control) received olive oil and normal saline. Group 2 (BPH untreated group) received 3 mg/kg of testosterone propionate (TP) and normal saline, and Group 3 (positive control) received 3 mg/kg of TP and 5 mg/kg of finasteride.
Treatment groups four, five, six, seven, eight and nine received 3 mg/kg of TP and a middle dose (200 mg/kg) of LD50 of ethanol crude tuber extract of C. esculenta (ECTECE) or hexane, dichloromethane, butanone, ethyl acetate and aqueous fractions of ECTECE respectively for a period of 28 days.
Afterwards, vital organs like the liver, kidney, heart as well as prostate and testes were collected as well as blood samples from the animals for tests.
In general, cocoyam’s protection against prostate enlargement is comparable to finasteride. There was a significant increase in mean relative prostate weight (approximately five times) as well as a reduction in the relative weight of the testes approximately 1.4 times less). There was no significant difference in the average relative weights of most vital organs: liver, kidneys and heart.
Also, there was no significant difference in red blood cell, haemoglobin, platelet counts and other blood parameters. The cocoyam fractions induced changes in total serum (the liquid portion of the blood) which were comparable to the standard treatment (finasteride).
According to the researchers “Data from the biochemical and hematological parameters of our study do not show evidence of toxicity. However, we observed a decrease in body weights of the treatment group. This is suggestive of a potential cellular response to arrest prostate enlargement through breakdown of tissue proteins.”
Also, they suggested that the relatively lower prostate weights in some of the groups of animals indicate that these treatments may be able to reduce the enlargement in the prostate at the lower doses utilised in this investigation.
Previously, researchers have reported non-significant differences in blood counts in rats fed with cocoyam made feed. Also, a report said intake of leaves of cocoyam is safe in reducing body fat deposit and ameliorate the effect of obesity-triggered fatty liver.
@ Nigerian Tribune