(originally printed Monday, October 20, 2003 – South China Morning Post)
Men are traveling across the world to be cured of the intensely painful condition chronic prostatitis at a revolutionary mainland clinic, Writes Joshua Samuel Brown
It's a malady that brings chronic discomfort, pain, and sometimes shame. It's causes aren't entirely clear, and it's treatment is so elusive that doctors often advise sufferers to “learn to live with it”. But in Xian, one doctor believes that he's developed a technique that will bring relief to sufferers of chronic benign prostatits. So certain is he of the power of his treatment that his website boldly declares that through his ublocking treatment, “chronic Prostatitis has met its Waterloo.”
In an unassuming office on the 21st floor of an office building in Xian's industrial technology zone is a small clinic dedicated to researching a problem that few understand - prostatitistis, a non-lethal ailment sometimes called “the forgotten prostate disease.”
Yet prostatitis is the most common urological problem among men younger than 50, and to those who suffer it's symptoms (ranging from frequent urination to chronic lower back pain to sexual dysfunction and painful ejaculations), it's non-lethal quality comes as little consolation.
Treatment is uncertain. A course of antibiotics might provide temporary relief to one patient, but not another. One man might swear by herbal medicine while another might spend a small fortune on specialty supplements such as saw palmetto and stinging nettle for months without finding relief. At the website of the Prostatitis foundation (www.prostatitis.org) sufferers from around the world share their experience in coping with this chronic ailment. Some are willing to go to great lengths to find a doctor who specializes in the treatment of chronic prostatitis. One of these is Dr. George Yuan Lu.
A graduate of Zhejiang Medical University, Dr. Lu is a urologist who has spent the last decade treating patients suffering from chronic prostatitis. For the last decade, his clinic has attracted patients from around the world willing to endure more than just a trip to central China in hopes of curing their problems. Dr. Lu is the originator of “unblocking”, a series of treatments mixing Chinese medicine and intense prostatic massage which, he claims, can both help patients to be free of their symptoms and to return an enlarged prostate to its former healthy size. But the reader should be warned – the process is not for the faint of heart.
“The common experience of a prostatatis patient is to see a doctor, describe their symptoms, and then be prescribed a round of antibiotics whether or not the cause is determined to be of a bacterial nature or not.” Says Dr. Lu “This might bring some relief, for a while, but in almost every case, the symptoms returns. My technique goes deeper. Much deeper.”
Dr. Lu explains his technique, using a pad and paper to sketch a prostate gland.
"The prostate is made of thirty to fifty acini (small channels in the gland, each with its own opening to the upper urethra). It is my belief that patients suffering from chronic prostatitis actually have bacteria and other microorganisms living, reproducing and releasing toxins inside of these acini. Bacteria that is present in these acini may not be present in urine, or even in the urethra, which is why so many patients are diagnosed with non-bacterial prostatitis.”
Dr. Lu's “unblocking technique” involves applying a mixture of Chinese medicine and antibiotics directly onto the prostate itself through the rectum. This is combined with a strenuous massage of the prostate that causes the prostatic acini to expunge their toxins. The process is not comfortable. But according to Dr. Lu, for the sufferer of chronic prostatitis, the promise of long term relief far outweighs the short term discomfort.
“My technique can return the process to it's normal size and shape, and can reverse the process of calcification (a hardening of the gland).”
Hu Dai Hong, a 37-year-old banker from Xian, had been a patient of Dr. Lu's over a year ago. Before seeing Dr. Lu, he'd suffered from chronic prostate pain for over a decade. His story is similar to that of many sufferers of BP. “I suffered from a constant low-level pain that had me contemplating suicide. I saw one doctor, he gave me antibiotics and the symptoms lessened for a while and came back. Then the antibiotics stopped working, so I saw another doctor.” He says. “The worst part was that I couldn't really tell anybody. I mean, if I had constant migraines, or a bad back, there's no stigma. But a guy my age really doesn't want his friends to know he's got a bad prostate.
After undergoing Dr. Lu's unblocking treatment and giving up liquor, says Mr. Hu, the symptoms went away for good. “He probably wouldn't even be here today,” Dr. Lu says “but he started drinking again, and now he's experienceing mild symptoms or prostatitis.”
Mr. Hu looks down a bit sheepishly. “Nobody to blame but myself this time” he says. He then drops his trousers, grits his teeth and bends over while Dr. Lu begins his work with gloved and lubricated index finger, performing a DRE (digital rectal exam), pressing Mr. Hu's prostate hard enough to bring forth a sample of prostatic fluid from his urethra.
Dr. Lu tells Mr. Hu that his prostate is in much better condition than it was a year ago, and that if he gives up the bottle for good he shouldn't need another round of unblocking treatment. Hearing this, Mr. Hu looks infinitely relieved. “The treatment is not comfortable.” He says, “It's quite painful.”
“Yes,” agrees Dr. Lu. “What you just saw was merely an exam. During the treatment, I actually massage the prostate quite vigorously. Some of my patients cry. But they always thank me afterwards.” Dr. Lu then points to pictures and postcards from men who'd come from as far away as Canada and Britain for treatment. “Many of these men saw unblocking treatment a last hope after an endless series of trial and error treatments.”
While Dr. Lu is confident about the validity of his unblocking technique, he is more reticent to make any hard pronouncements as to the cause of chronic prostatitis. His field of study is rich in theory and speculation, but the causes of prostate ailments are still far from fully mapped out. Probably one of the most controversial opinions that Dr. Lu holds is his belief that there is a link between prostatitis and excessive masturbation. Even in this, Dr. Lu treads lightly.
“I do not make this claim from any sort of moral or religious standpoint.” He says “All that I know is what my patients tell me, and so many of them tell me that they are or had been frequent masturbators that I cannot help but draw a connection.”
Dr. Lu declines to define what too much masturbation might be, instead saying that, like anything else, it's probably an individual thing.
“As far as sexuality and the prostate is concerned, I think that moderation and regularity is the best policy for patients suffering from symptoms. Again, it's an individual thing. I also think condom use is a good idea for pretty much anybody but the most monogamous couples, as in addition to preventing other things it also provides a barrier against bacteria which can contribute to prostatitis.”
To men concerned about keeping their prostates healthy, Dr. Lu offers advice based on his own studies. “There are some things that are obvious to me.” He says. “Anyone with prostate problems should avoid alcohol and spicy foods. Some say that coffee irritates the prostate, but as the majority of my patients are Chinese and don't drink the stuff, I can't really say.”
Regarding recent studies suggesting that masturbation might prevent prostate cancer, Dr. Lu says that this, like much else in the field of prostate study, is still speculation. “Again, I think the key here is moderation. I'm sure that this study isn't suggesting that men engage in masturbation to excess.”
However, it is Dr. Lu's opinion that there is a connection between chronic prostatitis and prostate cancer. “Though I have no proof” he quickly adds. “they both affect the same area of the prostate, so it seems to me that to say that it's possible that a long term case of prostatitis could turn to cancer is not a great leap. I certainly feel that having a healthy prostate is an excellent way to prevent prostate cancer.”
Xi'an Ren-Ai Clinic:
21st floors of Maple-leaf Edifice, Gao Xin Road,
Xi'an Hi-Tech Develepment Zone,
Xi'an, China 710075
Fax To: 86-29-8329787
For more information about chronic prostatitis, visit the Prostatitis foundation online at http://www.prostatitis.org/.
Vistit the Author at www.josambro.com