Men's Health Protecting the Fellows
Testosterone tends to dominate any conversation about male sexual function; there are,however, other forces driving men’s health. Prostate complications,acute and severe, are a growing problem and one that researchers continue to evaluate in terms of both supplementation and diet. Equally pressing are concerns regarding urinary tract infections (men get them, too).
Considering all the potential complications men face in prostatic and urological health, there’s money to be made in marketing natural formulas that can help. Luckily, the pursuit of plant-based ingredient solutions is an active one.
A sizable market exists for African cherry (Prunus africana) in the men’s health space. Its bark is sold in extracts intended to help with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate. But concerns about over-harvesting1 the African cherry tree to meet global extract demand is motivating one ingredient supplier to explore a more sustainable alternative.
After carefully reviewing the contents of numerous other Prunus species, Cepham Inc. (Piscataway, NJ) and other parties discovered that the common plum (Prunus domestica) most closely resembles African cherry in its bark contents2, including key constituents such as beta-sitosterol and docosyl ferulate. Considering the strong similarities of the two barks, Cepham believes plum barkshould act on the human prostate in muchthe same way African cherry bark does—byblocking the action of androgens and stimulatingthe death of benign prostate cells,among numerous other proposed factors.
So far, preliminary results are encouraging.Cepham funded an animal study that foundplum bark as efective as African cherry barkin stopping the proliferation of BPH in rats3,and the company expects results of a humanstudy to be published this November.
Unlike African cherry bark, which is typicallywild-harvested, Cepham’s plum barkcomes from privately managed plum treefarms at the foothills of the Himalayas. Afterfarmers harvest their sweet fruits, the treesare pruned to stimulate more fruit production,and the byproduct of stems and branchesbecomes a bark extract.
Cepham is selling its plum bark extract(brand name Prosprune) to fnishedproductmanufacturers in India and Tailand.Te extract is available in paste formfor soft gels and in powder form for hardgelatin capsules.
The tiny cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) has made a name for itself in the urological field thanks to years of cultural use for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). A large number of studies have since explored, and sometimes validated, the use of cranberry extracts for this
condition. Although women are most prone to UTIs, men are also at risk of UTIs and, more commonly, lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), which can be caused by infections or prostate problems. Fortunately, cranberry may provide relief for LUTS.
In a “landmark study”4 published earlier this year, Naturex (South Hackensack, NJ) says its cranberry extract reduced LUTS in men over age 45. It appeared to improve
urinary flow, international prostate symptom scores (IPSS), and other relevant health markers also used in pharma-level studies. According to Naturex, this is the first and only gold-standard study (randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical) on cranberry and LUTS.
A lot of cranberry research has focused in narrowly on proanthocyanidins (PACs), chemical compounds present in these berries that experts say are highly responsible for positive results. Naturex, however, remains intent on marketing a full-spectrum cranberry extract that it says is
biologically and clinically superior for urological health. The extract is sold as Flowens.