Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), usually known as prostate gland enlargement, is common among men above 50. Prostate is part of the male reproductive system, situated directly beneath the bladder. In young males, it is typically the size of a walnut, but can begin to enlarge with age. Enlarged prostate can lead to compression of the urinary tract that passes through the gland. Although rarely life-threatening, it can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms as urine flow is obstructed. The causes of BPH are not well understood, but ageing and hormonal changes are thought to play a role.

Common symptoms include:

  1. Urgent need to pass urine
  2. Frequent urination, especially at night
  3. Hesitant and interrupted urination
  4. A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
  5. Difficulty or straining at the beginning of urination
  6. Acute urine retention
  7. Urine leakage and incontinence
  8. Blood in urine
If left untreated, BPH has the potential to progress and cause subsequent serious complications. Incomplete emptying of the bladder can increase risk of recurrent urinary tract infections. Other problems like bladder stones or blood in the urine can also develop. When BPH progresses to the point of complete obstruction of urine flow, it can result in urinary retention. In rare cases, bladder and/or kidney damage can arise from BPH. For men suffering from mild to moderate BPH, with little or no symptoms, it is best to monitor closely and take regular visits to the urologist. However, if symptoms get worse, or new symptoms appear, do seek treatment early.

This condition coincides with a disease in TCM terminology, namely “Long Bi”. It largely refers to difficulty in passing urine or even complete urine retention. TCM believes that kidney Qi gradually depletes with advancement in age. Insufficient production of the kidney Yin and Yang can result in poor flow of Qi and blood. Qi stagnation and blood stasis can then result in an enlarged prostate and urinary tract blockage. Although BPH are closely associated with kidney functions, other organ systems also play a role in mediating the pathogenesis of this condition.

Potential causes are believed to be:
  1. Old age and Kidney deficiency
  2. Heat in the Lungs
  3. Liver Qi stagnation
  4. Spleen Qi deficiency
  5. Accumulation of heat and dampness
  6. Physical blockage (blood stasis or incomplete discharge) of urinary tract
  7. Hypersexuality
In cases of mild clinical presentations, here are some self-help remedies you can try at home!

Acupressure massage:
  1. Guanyuan CV4: 3 inches below belly button
  2. Zhongji CV3: 4 inches below belly button
  3. Sanyinjiao SP6: 3 inches above the inside of the ankle


Light a moxa (dried mugwort leaves) and place it above the belly button for 15 mins a day to help ease symptoms. You may use a moxibustion box for convenience.

Food therapy:

  1. Astragalus Winter Melon Soup
  2. Ingredients: Astragalus 20g, Codonopsis 15g, Winter melon 60g, Lean meat (optional)
    Method: Boil the herbs for 20 mins. Add winter melon and cook until it softens. Add lean meat slices (optional). Season and serve warm.
  1. Cistanche Mutton Porridge
  2. Ingredients: Cistanche 10g, Mutton 60g, Rice 60g
    Method: Boil the herb for 30 mins and remove residues from pot. Add mutton and rice to the brew. Cook till soft. Season and serve warm.
  1. Moneywort Tea
  2. Ingredients: Moneywort 15g
    Method: Steep with hot water and serve as tea.

If clinical symptoms persist, do seek professional help to rule out other possible diagnoses that might be life-threatening!

Health Education