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DM: Dr. Joseph Mercola RM: Rudi Moerck
Introduction: DM: Welcome everyone. This is Dr. Mercola. Today, I’m here with Rudi Moerck who is an expert in chemistry especially how it is applied to the supplement field. He’s had a lot of experience in the drug industry and really has brought that experience to the natural food industry. We’re welcome and delighted to have him. Today, we’re going to talk about really important topic which is prostate health. If you’re a man like either of us then it’s a really important one. If you’re not or your spouse or good friend is then they’ll certainly appreciate this information. It’s a significant issue. I think it’s something that we all need to be concerned about. We would like to discuss what the issues are and then some of the things that we can do specifically to be proactive and make sure that we don’t encounter some of these challenges. Thank you and welcome. RM: Thank you very much. Prostate health is a very important topic for men over 60, generally 60 although men over 50 in certain cases of genetic propensity, diet issues, could have issues already when they’re in their 50s or earlier. Generally, statistics are overwhelming. Men over 70 have almost a 50% chance of developing some sort of enlarged prostate. The medical doctors call that benign prostate hyperplasia. The word benign is very important because it doesn’t mean prostate cancer. It just means an enlargement of the prostate. There are many drugs on the market that are used to treat that some of which have recently had to issue warning labels that if you’re a benign prostate hyperplasia or BPH, it turns into prostate cancer that some of these drugs can actually increase the cancer or make it a much more aggressive cancer. Speak to your physician if you can an enlarged prostate and if there is any chance that you have prostate cancer, you have to be extremely careful. Any supplement that you take, you have to go through your regimen if you have cancer. Some supplements and drugs can actually feed that cancer so you have to get professional advice. The prostate drugs that are available are very potent usually involving hormonal balance in the body. They include Flomax and Avodart. Again, Google it and you’ll see that there are many hits right now as far as warnings about taking these things. 1
DM: Before we go into saw palmetto I just wanted to highlight some of the reasons that an individual with BPH would be interested in seeking treatment. one of the first prostate drugs on the market ever in the United States was saw palmetto made by the Eli Lilly Company in 1872 I believe it was. 2 . Why don’t you expand on that. But it is this DHT that is the real issue. We won’t be as healthy as we can be. It’s not testosterone. These drugs primarily they work on a specific enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase and they inhibit this enzyme that causes that enlargement. RM: And your wife will not sleep well either. That’s the big issue. RM: Generally with saw palmetto.There are also things you can do with your diet and there are things you should do generally as a male that can help mitigate this problem and there are some supplements that can be used and have been shown over a couple of hundred years now to be effective. first of all there has been 50 to 100 clinical studies on saw palmetto both in the United States and in Europe especially Europe where saw palmetto even though saw palmetto again. It’s more of a mechanical secondary side effect of how it really impairs your sleep cycle. The primary one is that sleep is such a crucial part of our health and if we don’t get it. That’s a couple of hundred years in American culture but of course the use of saw palmetto by the American Indians especially in the Southern States where the saw palmetto plant grows has been around for thousands of years and has been used for prostate health for thousands of years. you’re going to have impaired health. You mentioned some of these other hormonal components. We are certainly not making any drug claims but the anecdotal evidence suggest that there is a reduction in the conversion of testosterone into the dihydrotestosterone and then therefore men that take saw palmetto will have slightly higher levels of testosterone in their body as you were pointing out. One of the biggest complications of BPH is that you’re not going to sleep well because you will have to urinate and get up frequently throughout the night. Also. I would like to make a distinction here too because I think even to this day many conventional experts recommend against the use of testosterone because this 5-alpha-reductase is what’s responsible for converting testosterone in the body to dihydrotestosterone or DHT which is the problem. They’re actually responsible for preventing the problem. Healthy testosterone typically decline as they age. In any case. as I said was made by the American Indians. It’s not even a direct hormonal component. assuming you’re sleeping in the same bed which frequently is the case. It’s this DHT that causes it. the Europeans picked up on this very quickly. That’s where saw palmetto works and really makes a big difference. DM: Well. the mechanism of action of saw palmetto is not fully clear.
rich in carotenoids. RM: That’s a good thing. DM: The average side effect per drug is 70. Tomato sauce that sort of thing is rich in lycopene. if you read the warning labels. That definitely changes the balance a little bit. RM: Right. RM: The significant ones though are the ones that have over 5% of the persons taking the drug reporting major problems. I always believe in trying something first that is natural. So saw palmetto alone or with pumpkin seed or with lycopene is an interesting thing but saw palmetto. It’s something that every man should think about. a difficult subject to talk about and that is sex. a good grade of saw palmetto – we’ll talk about the various grades a little bit later – is important in this. I know it’s hard to get men not to think about sex but I recommend sex on a regular basis. 3 . raw food. I think there is a couple of other things we need to say about prostate health. Make sure that as you get older especially if you get over 60 you got to exercise. The 5% hurdle is a real good number. It’s a difficult thing to talk about. I don’t mean things like catsup with a lot of high fructose corn syrup. It turns out that if you don’t have enough testosterone in your body it can cause all kinds of problems like gaining weight. things rich in vitamins. there could be major issues with that. Have sex on a regular basis which involves exercising your prostate. It’s something that you should definitely try. that doesn’t have any side effects. In older people that becomes an issue because of lack of a partner and those things. and also foods rich in lycopene. In the prostate drugs it’s usually things like when you get up from your chair and you get dizzy. DM: It can be as high as 500 or even higher than that. The reason why you should try it rather than going immediately to a drug which now has these warning labels – there are by the way some medical drugs and in all fairness. You got to eat organic food. First of all. All the chemical drugs on the market today. Consider a lycopene supplement also. Also.DM: And that’s a good thing. I mean cooked tomatoes. DM: Yeah. I talked about it to both men and women’s groups in various things that I go to. That’s not a really good thing because if your chair happens to be a canoe or your bicycle or something like that. that is lower cost. we need to say there are some drugs that do not have this warning label that can be used. I mean there is tremendous side effects. and problem with urinating. exercise is important. breast enlargement in men. if you read the sheet that comes with your tablets.
RM: And no matter what your age. it’s very clear that many prostate cancers are extremely slow growing and that 4 . I wonder if you can comment on that. I think sun exposure is a good one. eat a moderate amount of meat. RM: I think that’s very important. In reading the literature. Exercise. Remember when that doesn’t happen. DM: There is a bit of confusion about that because it is the most common but I don’t believe it’s the most lethal. You don’t want to necessarily take it when you have prostate cancer although I certainly would but it’s probably most beneficial to prevent it like most things in life. One of the ones you left out was exposure to sun and increasing your vitamin D levels because as far as I know. That can cause certain immunological issues. Probably two times a week for older people. We’ve talked about that before. a biologist and chemist. My recommendation is a minimum of once a week. 15 to 20 minutes a day and then increase your vitamin D content if you live in a place like Chicago or New York where you don’t get that winter sun. RM: Again. DM: For ideal prostate function. RM: Use that prostate. DM: The other one too as you had mentioned. all the fluids and everything have to be reabsorbed into the body. So do that. I’m not a medical doctor. Not on your head or face but on your body. eat healthy foods (fruits and vegetables). vitamin D is probably the most potent variable associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. So making sure you’re getting 15 nanograms per milliliter at a minimum as a base of vitamin D. have sex on a regular basis. There is just a lot of variables. they’re going to require perhaps 10 times as much sun exposure or if there is clouds or pollution. RM: Yes. That’s very good basic stuff. DM: It’s difficult to give a time recommendation because it’s so variable. If you’re a vegetarian you eat high protein things like lentils and that sort of thing. My last memory of these numbers was that more men die with prostate cancer than from prostate cancer. I’m a PhD. If someone is a fairly complexioned individual versus a deeply pigmented African-American or Middle Easterner. You really have to use your judgment and never get burned which I think is the simple underlying principle. if I’m not mistaken prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Just never get burned because that’s going to cause damage. don’t eat many carbohydrates specifically sugar and more specifically than that fructose which will devastate insulin function or resistance and increase insulin resistance and will contribute to cancers. when a man does not have sexual activity then all the sperm. I believe. avoid a lot of carbohydrates.
Because really it doesn’t make sense to take saw palmetto supplement generically. Also the issues of surgery is that often prostate surgery is associated with impotence afterwards. It decreases it. DM: Ultrasounds… RM: Ultrasound is very okay but CAT scans for instance can do more damage than good if you don’t have a really. It’s an effective supplement but only if it’s from a high quality source. saw palmetto is one of the most popular supplements on the market. So magnetic is okay.if you take the proper precautions. the prostate drugs. That’s something that you have to be careful of. I also recommend using instrumentation that does not involve radiation. DM: It doesn’t increase the risk for prostate cancer. that there ought to be a flyer in there that says. DM: It actually might cause more harm than good because it starts you down this path of really entering in the conventional system for prostate treatment which involves potentially application of these very potent surgical and/or chemotherapy suggestions. have you tried this? Have you tried saw palmetto? Because there is fewer side effects and certainly the cost is a lot less. If you get a biopsy – even a biopsy is not straightforward for prostate cancer. RM: Yes. If your body doesn’t need it. You know it’s lower cost for the insurance companies too. it’s not going to use it. It’s not an expensive supplement. really serious case and you need to really do the CAT scan to do the surgical procedure afterwards. you are going to outlive the cancer. RM: I recommend doing testing that involves the classical test for enlarged prostate which is your doctor doing a physical exam. That should be 320 mg of saw palmetto oil supercritical CO2 extract. I wonder if you can discuss that and maybe talk about the different qualities of the raw materials because there is a whole range of different products out there. generally speaking the surgery or any other treatment is going to be doing more damage at that age like radiation treatment and that sort of thing or surgery. The other thing is that I highly recommend that men over 50 start taking saw palmetto everyday because it certainly does not hurt. 5 . I personally believe for instance people that are getting these drugs through a medical plan or something. DM: There are a number of ways to take the saw palmetto out of the berry. Men that have slow growing prostate cancers and they’re 80 years old. you want to figure out if something is going to really work and make a difference. I mean. I think it’s really important to have an understanding of the process that you need to go through to identify a high quality one.
DM: Hexane is toxic. people actually pay to take that on a regular basis. Let’s talk about saw palmetto. RM: That’s the first step. That uses a chemical solvent and that leaves residues of hexane in the product. I mean there is a lot safer solvent than other solvents that can be used. That today. So if you put 300 or 500 mg of green berry powder in a capsule. those are so-called green berries do not have a lot of oil in it maybe 8-9 percent oil. a drug mass in food. It does not work. they’ll say Serenoa repens 320 mg as berry. It can made by ethanol extraction. That’s not 320 mg of oil. the clinically trial dose is 320 mg. It’s one of the worst supplement areas as far as stuff being sold that is ineffective. if you go to the various mass market stores or drug and food stores. DM: Which isn’t necessarily toxic because ethanol. 320 mg is what you should take per day. Most will not work for you because of one very simple reason. RM: Right. Almost all the supplements that are mass marketed supplements. That’s berry powder. RM: But for some religious groups for instance it would not be acceptable generally to have that. RM: It gives people false hope. DM: Would you say the majority of the saw palmetto products in the market are not going to work for you? RM: Absolutely.RM: That’s right. The berries themselves. picked in Florida and grind them up and put them in a capsule. alcohol extraction if you will. 6 . That gives a product that is going to have residues of alcohol left in it. DM: False hope and they’re spending their money foolishly because they’re biased that the thing is going to work. RM: I recommend that you only buy a supercritical extracted – let’s go into the various methods. And then you want to know how that oil was made. DM: That’s the first step. you’re only going to get 35 mg of oil. it’s not going to help them and their underlying problem that they’re seeking to address is not being paid attention to. It is incredibly bad stuff. Whereas the right dose. It can be made three different ways. Somebody had the bright idea a few years ago to take dried saw palmetto berries. Let’s say you do want to buy an oil. that is 55% of the market. DM: So literally 90% lower than it should be. The other method is hexane extraction. DM: Bad from a perspective that it probably won’t work.
the ultra high pressure is maybe 10 to 15 percent of the market and another 25% for a medium grade. RM: One or two. Also. the oil that you get out is a very nice yellow oil. The third method is – this method is then used by the companies that are leading companies in this area – it’s the supercritical CO2 extraction. Then if you go to a high pressure. Chlorophyll has traces of magnesium which is an essential nutrient. Whereas years ago they used to use chlorinated solvents. DM: What percentage of the supplements available of saw palmetto in the market uses supercritical ultra high pressure method that really seems to be the ideal method of extracting the saw palmetto into a gel capsule? RM: Half the market is the powder which is not efficacious. because there’s probably more than 20 brands that is using this method. DM: What color is the supercritical CO2. It’s due to the fact that there is some chlorophyll and some lutein in that. It kind of looks like corn oil and it doesn’t have any of the micronutrients in it. In certain oils. very similar to the process that’s used to decaffeinate coffee today. you do get some of the micronutrients. What supercritical CO2 does especially ultra high pressure supercritical CO2 is it forces the liquid carbon dioxide into the berry powder. Chlorophyll and edible oils means that they’re going to go rancid faster. DM: So literally all the ones in the market that we’re looking at – if you have 20 different brands there is only going to be one brand on average. After that it’s just ultra high pressure. The higher the pressure the more micronutrients that you’re going to get out of this – micronutrients meaning lutein. It’s why you eat green things that sort of thing. they use supercritical CO2. In saw palmetto that’s not an issue. If you use very low pressure which most of the saw palmetto oil that’s made by supercritical extraction using very low pressure it’s just the yellow oil. That is liquid carbon dioxide. zeaxanthin. Lutein occurs naturally in the berry. the chlorophyll molecules itself is a good molecule. Also. The other methods don’t extract it. super critical oils and then low pressure oils which are generally yellow oils. lycopene (small enough lycopene).RM: Hexane is toxic. ultra high pressure? RM: At ultra high pressure it’s very dark. You get some chlorophyll etc. it extracts it out. The ultra premium saw palmetto oils are organic supercritical extracted saw palmetto oils. not ultra high pressure but high pressure then the oil becomes rose colored. With ethanol. a lighter oil. today. If you look at it very closely it’s really dark green. The other half. chlorophyll is not a good thing like edible oils. It doesn’t have the micronutrients. chlorophyll. It’s almost black. 7 . It’s a darker oil.
DM: It’s slightly less effective when used independently. getting it from a good source organic pumpkin seed oil. at 100 degrees. It will take a couple of hundred degrees but at that temperature. One concern – there is the different ways that you can damage nutrients. So when you’re using these ultra high pressures does that high pressure cause any damage to the micronutrients? RM: Not if the temperature is low. I think they are still safe but it’s not the way to go. It’s slightly less effective than saw palmetto. That’s a good one. you’re not destroying any of the micronutrients mainly because ultra high pressure CO2 has no oxygen in it. Again. I mean. you can still drive a model (indiscernible 24:26) but that’s not the way to go. it has dioxide in it but that’s a very inert molecule. 8 . DM: How low are you? RM: The temperature is typically about 100 degrees. That’s why if you breathe CO2 you die because there is… DM: That’s what they use for fire extinguishers. DM: Centigrade or Fahrenheit? RM: Centigrade. One certainly is oxygen. It is also extremely non-chemically reactive. there are a number of nutrients that have been used traditionally. One of them is pumpkin seed oil which is a good nutrient. So that’s the way to go. But the third is pressure. It doesn’t react like oxygen does. If you use ethanol extraction there are chemical reactions that take place with ethanol in the various components like the carotenoids do react with ethanol. It’s very stable. Saw palmetto oil will take a lot more than that. DM: Are there some evidence of the benefit of using a synergistic combination of lycopene and saw palmetto or any other micronutrients that might enhance the effect of the saw palmetto? RM: Yeah. If you throw oxygen at a fire you obviously ignite it or accelerate it but if you throw CO2 you put it out. And a lot of people who sell a combination of products which I think are good products. One of the reasons why you can use ultra high pressure is because you can run this at a very low temperature and get a nice clean extract.DM: So not many. RM: It is the cleanest extraction method known to mankind today other than just eating the food. Even though carbon dioxide – well yeah. the other is ultraviolet light.
We both are. I have to also mention that the fatty acids in saw palmetto are free fatty acids. Really the flagship in this is saw palmetto and yes it would be great if you added some pumpkin seed oil. In fact it’s extremely fast gr owing literature based on that. you have to be careful what that ratio is because saw palmetto oil costs a lot more than pumpkin seed oil. DM: Or any other fat if you’re not using eggs. DM: But probably when it’s used – because it is a different mechanism of action. DM: But you can go higher. They’re very acidic. it’s a fat soluble supplement and you want to be really careful not to take those on an empty stomach because you won’t absorb it that well. it could cause some stomach upset. But again. The other nutrient that you mentioned is lycopene. DM: Again. Eggs have this phenomenal phospholipid which is probably about the best food you could possibly eat to absorb a fat soluble nutrient or supplement like astaxanthin or saw palmetto. RM: Minimum. It is effective but be careful of that ratio. That’s an acceptable additive to saw palmetto. So I would take it with eggs is the best. The most interesting thing for me as a scientist was that they did some tracer studies not in humans but in animals.RM: Right. I am not a proponent of testing in animals and only testing that is non-destructive or non-hurting of the animals would be 9 . If you take a lot of it. DM: High quality. Just as a disclaimer. RM: Yes. I recommend taking it with food. DM: So the threshold of what you want on a daily dose of saw palmetto is about 325 mg. I would not go more than twice that. RM: You can go higher. It’s not necessary. RM: Yeah. It will just be excreted. But good eggs. Some people – supplement suppliers may load the thing up with pumpkin seed oil and very little saw palmetto oil. take one of them a day. RM: You know I’m a big believer in eggs also. There is a growing body of evidence that lycopene is beneficial to prostate health. So synergistically together we’re better than either independently? RM: Yes. I personally am a strong believer in consuming healthy eggs as you are.
I feel very strongly about avoiding animal testing when possible. That’s true of humans also. also the drugs that you’re taking and seriously listen to them about the various options. talk to your doctor or your dietician about your diet and there are some guidelines that should be observed. There are options that involve surgery. If it’s a non-aggressive form. determine whether you have an aggressive form of the cancer or not. But the important thing is that if you get prostate cancer or you suspect you have prostate cancer is to look at all the potential treatment options. They go away very quickly just as a diagnostic test. It is also one that is being investigated to prevent prostate cancer. look at your age. It’s very interesting. I’m not making any claims about that. I just wanted to clear that up. Speak to your physician or your healthcare provider and talk to them about is it an aggressive form. It turns out that there has been some good reports of lycopene helping that. There are options that involve radioactive implants. adjust your diet. I’m just saying it’s being investigated for that and it’s something that I’m going to keep an eye on. This can be a useful tool but there are other treatment options that people have if they have prostate problems. if it’s a slow growing cancer then you want to monitor it over time. lycopene is the one that accumulates in the prostate of male animals. What they did in this case is they used some very short lived radioisotopes that are commonly used even in people. DM: I have to give you some feedback on that because my experience is that most all dieticians and physicians are pretty ignorant or clueless about nutrition especially 10 . And so much damage to organs and to membranes and of course the prostate is a very important organ. So that when the prostate starts growing or swelling it will cut off urinary flow. Also. DM: Many of our readers feel the same way. There are options that involve microsurgery.good. look at your drug regimen or your supplement regimen and really get some professional advice. That will be the guiding light. RM: We talked earlier about biopsies and that sort of thing and that’s a problem. RM: But in the test it shows that of all the carotenoids. DM: Thank you for providing that new information about lycopene. All these things are available to the medical profession but before you do any of them. I would look at the supplements you’re taking. I’m wondering if you could just comment on those from your experience and understanding. It is a very potent antioxidant. I also recommend a dietician but also get several opinions. It just so happens to have the urinary tract that goes right through the middle of it.
There are no problems with sugar. The number one source of calories in this country is high fructose corn syrup. I’m frequently criticized for my position on them. I really don’t think that saw palmetto is going to help you very much. It walks people through three different levels of either beginner. I think it’s a phenomenal idea to consider adding a potent 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor that’s natural like from saw palmetto done from a high quality process like you described but that’s just in addition to. get that down. water soluble antioxidants – blackberries. I mean certainly if you have a natural healthcare clinician and you’ve got a certified clinical nutritionist absolutely take advantage of that. That’s the absolute highest level of calories that people are getting from. They’re not trying to hurt or harm anyone but they’re operating under principles that just don’t work. make sure your insulin resistance is low then you add on these supplements that can have phenomenal and important synergy because otherwise you are trying to stop your car with the foot slammed down on the accelerator. It may work but you’re going to damage your car and it’s not going to work anywhere near as effectively as you take your foot off the accelerator. They believe artificial sweeteners are fine.conventionally trained because they’re getting their education from clueless conventional medical doctors or companies like Coca Cola that are really educating them. Well intentioned. They’re taking 75 grams. make sure your vitamin D level is therapeutic. 11 . I have an orchard in my backyard of about 20 different fruit trees and some berries but the problem is that 85% of the people have too much fructose in their diet already. I eat mostly berries which do have some fructose in them but you’re getting a good shot of vitamins. So if you want information about nutrition then just go to our site. Because diet is really one of the most important tools we have. They believe it’s true. There are no problems with it. It’s simple and if you make poor choices there you’re really going to sabotage yourself unintentionally. You’ve got to optimize your biochemistry from a nutritional perspective first. I think they are phenomenal especially berries. We have a link on our homepage that goes to a hundred page nutrition plan. RM: I agree and that’s one of the reasons why in my own diet. intermediate or advanced stages and goes through all the details. you’ll get is just misinformation. Once you go above 25 grams it’s sort of the threshold at which you start experience these metabolic complications. You’ve got to have a priority. make sure you’re exercising. But the traditional approach. That’s something we really addressed well on our site over the last 13 years or so. I avoid certain fruits even that are high in fructose. blueberries… DM: Fruits are great. So if you’re having 125 gm of fructose a day. Supplements are great. They’re clueless about insulin resistance. So we have to be really careful.
Eat a good diet low in fructose. get good exercise. You can even go higher occasionally like anything as long as your average is going to be down below 25 grams but most people aren’t. DM: Any closing words? RM: Yes.If you’re fructose level is below and you’re eating healthy and you’re following a good program then it’s great. DM: Berries are good too and cherries especially this time of year. Exercise your prostate in another way once or twice a week. DM: Because normally raw is a better way to have most food but in this case… RM: Catsup is not a good source of lycopene. DM: Sure like limes are a classic example and lemons have virtually no fructose in them at all. RM: Correct. DM: Yeah most do but there are actually some that have very low sugar and are made from organic tomatoes. RM: But certain fruits have a moderate or modest nutritional value. On prostate health is. you can get lycopene from cooked tomatoes. RM: Because there is a lot of sugar in it. DM: Apples especially a big apple. 12 . you probably get enough lycopene. If you’re an Italian-American. Look into lycopene as a supplement. DM: But it’s cooked. If you don’t eat a lot of cooked tomatoes… DM: Because you’re going to absorb more of the lycopene when it’s cooked as opposed to eating a raw tomato. Start saw palmetto supplements when you’re in the 50s even if you do not have an issue. RM: This time of year yeah. Others are lower but fruits are very high in fructose just like figs or dates and things like that. One of those fruits could definitely… RM: I’m a berry guy. Again. It’s completely safe that way. RM: Apples.
I appreciate you sharing that and giving us the tools. the resources. The other thing that we didn’t mention before is watch your alcohol consumption. lead a healthy lifestyle. I thank you for sharing your insights on this rally important topic and really bringing to light some of the important distinctions as to what differentiates a high quality from a low quality saw palmetto supplement because most of us are really unaware of those details because we’re not involved in the industry like you are. Ideally two drinks a day. 13 .RM: Also. DM: Some people would disagree with that but it’s an area for a whole other discussion. I always say no more than three drinks a day. the information we need in this important area so that we can continue to take control of our health. No alcohol consumption is not good.
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