Nature offers a wide spectrum of plants, herbs, spices, and foods that exhibit the same properties as some medications.
These natural compounds allow us to aid the management of certain health problems and improve our quality of life.
In this post, we will focus on natural alpha blockers that can help you manage enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, or some other health problem.
What are alpha-blockers?
Alpha-blockers are a class of drugs specifically created to treat circulatory problems and difficulty passing urine. Also known as alpha adrenoreceptor antagonists, these medications were first developed in the late 20th century. For instance, the first selective alpha-1 blocker approved by FDA was prazosin, which was synthesized in 1974.
The main difference between alpha blockers and commonly prescribed beta blockers is that the latter work on the heart to ease blood flow. Alpha-blockers, on the other hand, work on blood muscles to open up blood vessels.
What do alpha-blockers treat?
Doctors prescribe alpha blockers to treat the following health problems.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate
- Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (a tumor that grows on adrenal glands or near the carotid artery in the neck)
Off-label uses of alpha-blockers include treatment of nightmares and sleep disruptions, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), prostatitis, kidney stones, and circulation issues caused by Raynaud’s phenomenon.
How do alpha-blockers work?
Alpha-blockers work by partially inhibiting or blocking the way some cells in the body receive instructions. As you can conclude by their name, these medications block alpha receptors.
The main function of these receptors is to instruct cells when to tighten, squeeze, or constrict. When the alpha blockers inhibit these receptors, the cells remain relaxed, which can improve blood flow or passing of urine.
These medications work in the peripheral vasculature and inhibit the uptake of catecholamines (hormones made by adrenal glands) in smooth muscles, which results in blood pressure lowering due to vasodilation (1).
What are some common alpha-blockers?
Alpha-blockers can be selective or nonselective. Selective alpha-blockers target only specific alpha receptors. These can be alpha-1 (A1) receptors or alpha-2 (A2) receptors.
Alpha-1 receptors are found in smooth muscle, skin, eyes, and urinary tract. Alpha-2 receptors are also found in smooth muscle and locations such as the nervous system, blood, pancreas, and fat cells.
While selective alpha-blockers act on specific receptors, nonselective alpha-blockers do not. In other words, they block both A1 and A2 receptors (2).
It’s important to bear in mind alpha-blockers can be selective or nonselective for A1 receptors. At this point, there are no approved selective alpha-blockers that act on A2 receptors.
Common selective A1 blockers include alfuzosin (Uroxatral), terazosin (Hytrin), tamsulosin (Flomax), doxazosin (Cardura), silodosin (Rapaflo), and prazosin. Nonselective alpha-blockers are phenoxybenzamine (Dibenzyline) and phentolamine (Regitine).
What are the side effects of alpha-blockers?
The body may respond to alpha-blockers with postural hypotension i.e., low pressure and dizziness when you first start taking these medications. You may faint when standing up from a lying or sitting position.
Specific side effects depend on the type of alpha-blockers. In most cases, adverse reactions include:
- Reflex tachycardia (fast heartbeat)
- Muscle tremors
- Nasal stuffiness
- Peripheral edema
- Priapism (long-lasting and painful erection)
- Anejaculation (inability to ejaculate semen), rarely
7 natural alpha blockers
Some alpha-blockers can have uncomfortable adverse reactions. Some men who are worried about the side effects of Flomax are reluctant to use this medication.
Whether you are looking for natural Flomax alternatives or you’re interested in natural alpha-blockers in general, we’ve got you covered.
Scroll down to learn more about different Flomax alternatives and natural alpha-blockers.
1) Saw palmetto
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a tree native to the southeastern United States. Fruit from this tree is used for medicinal purposes. One of the most well-known health benefits of saw palmetto is its potential to aid the management of enlarged prostate.
Supplementation with saw palmetto can improve lower urinary tract symptoms linked to BPH. In one study, taking 320mg of saw palmetto a day reduced BPH symptoms and improved urinary flow and quality of life. Saw palmetto also improved sexual function in participants (2).
In addition to helping treat prostate enlargement, saw palmetto can also reduce prostate inflammation and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Saw palmetto also supports testosterone balance.
This plant works by blocking the activity of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Since DHT is involved in enlarged prostate, it’s clear why saw palmetto can help. That’s why it’s one of the most powerful natural alpha-blockers.
Saw palmetto exhibits antioxidant potential, just like stinging nettle, which is also beneficial for the prostate gland and its health.
2) Green tea
Green tea is among the healthiest beverages in the world. For hundreds of years, people in East Asia have been using green tea to manage various health problems.
Today, green tea is also used widely to support a healthy lifestyle, in addition to its wonderful taste. Green tea isn’t just about weight loss, it can also support prostate health.
Polyphenols in green tea function as antioxidants, and they also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties.
In one study, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) showed potential in decreasing the over-production of cells and also prevented the onset of benign prostatic hyperplasia (3). EGCG could inhibit 5-alpha reductase, which explains why green tea could function as a natural alpha-blocker.
Green tea is available as tea but also as an ingredient in various dietary supplements.
Beta-sitosterol is a type of phytosterol that may treat enlarged prostate and lower cholesterol levels. A growing body of evidence confirms that beta-sitosterol can improve urinary symptoms and flow measures in men with an enlarged prostate. Treatment with beta-sitosterol is well-tolerated (4, 5).
Beta-sitosterol works by inhibiting aromatase and 5-alpha reductase, meaning it’s a great choice of a natural alpha-blocker.
You can find beta-sitosterol in rice bran, wheat germ, corn oil, peanuts, and soybeans. For most people, the easiest way to obtain beta-sitosterol is through the intake of dietary supplements.
4) Pygeum africanum
Pygeum africanum is obtained from the bark of an African plum tree. This compound has many health benefits, but the most well-known use is for the management of enlarged prostate.
Pygeum contains a chemical that can reduce the size of the prostate gland and thereby decrease the intensity of urinary problems such as nighttime urination and poor urine flow.
Studies show that pygeum is one of several plants and compounds that exhibit alpha-blockers properties (6). While more expensive than saw palmetto, which is also more accessible, pygeum is still more affordable than some medications.
By delaying the growth of prostate cells, pygeum can help prevent or manage BPH. You can easily find it in supplement form.
5) Secale cereale
Secale cereale (rye) is grass extensively cultivated as grain. One of the many benefits of rye is its potential to manage enlarged prostate and support overall prostate health.
More specifically, rye grass pollen extract is used for this purpose. The extract is produced when bacteria digest plant pollen.
This compound functions as a natural alpha-blocker because it can relax muscles in the urethra and bladder. Evidence shows supplementation with rye pollen extract can alleviate nocturia (frequent urination at night) in men with enlarged prostate (7).
The easiest way to obtain rye grass pollen extract is through dietary supplements.
Lycopene is a pigment carotenoid associated with beta-carotene, which gives fruits and vegetables their vibrant red color.
As a powerful antioxidant, lycopene can improve our health and well-being in many ways. One of these ways is through improved cardiovascular health and better management of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
In one study, extra virgin olive oil enriched with lycopene improved prostate health and decreased PSA levels (prostate-specific antigen, a marker for prostate cancer). Men also slept better due to decreased nighttime urination. The best thing about lycopene is that it’s safe and doesn’t cause side effects (8).
Tomatoes are abundant in lycopene. You can also find it in carrots, red cabbage, papaya, pink grapefruit, apricots, red bell peppers, watermelon, and guava.
Not only are they delicious, but cranberries are good for reducing the risk of urinary tract infections, boosting the immune system, managing high blood pressure, and other health benefits. Consumption of cranberries can also help manage enlarged prostate.
This lovely fruit contains phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, participants who took 500mg of dried cranberry powder three times a day for six months improved symptoms of enlarged prostate. Their quality of life also improved with the intake of cranberry (9).
Besides eating cranberries and drinking cranberry juice, you can also look for the powder or supplements in pill or capsule form.
Cranberries work by dilating vessels and increasing blood flow. That way, they can manage high blood pressure. They can do the same in men with lower urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH. These fruits can allow more urine to go through.
Alpha-blockers are medications that are usually prescribed for the management of enlarged prostate or high blood pressure. The medications have off-label uses as well.
Men with BPH are often worried about the symptoms of their medications, which is why natural alpha-blockers are a useful option.
This post focused on several natural alpha-blockers worth considering if you’re struggling with hypertension, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or other problem. Make sure to consult your doctor if you’re already taking medications.