Kai Kit Wan: For men over 50
A common issue in men over 50 years old, which is associated with normal aging, is an enlarged prostate that can lead to annoying symptoms related to urination. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) affects about 50% of men between the ages of 51-60 and up to 90% of men over the age of 80. William Maclean thoroughly discusses this condition from a TCM perspective in his illuminating article "The Chinese Medicine Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia".
Although the exact cause of this condition is not well understood, the natural decrease in testosterone production in men as they age likely creates a hormonal imbalance with their endogenous estrogen and/or dihydrotestosterone (DHT), both of which encourage prostate cells to continue to grow. DHT is synthesized irreversibly from testosterone and is a potent agonist of the androgen receptor. Excessive androgen receptor activity not only may contribute to BPH, but it also may be a factor in the progression of prostate cancer. Since the prostate gland surrounds the urethra, an enlarged prostate can cause stenosis and obstruct the normal function of the urethra causing urination difficulties, which may include:
- urinary frequency (eight or more times a day)
- urinary urgency
- difficulty initiating urination
- a weak urine stream or one that stops and starts
- dribbling at the end of urination
- nocturia—frequent urination during periods of sleep
- urinary retention or a sense that the bladder is not completely empty
- urinary incontinence
Although these symptoms are the result of normal aging in men, they may lead to serious diseases that may require additional medical intervention. The signs to look for include pain after ejaculation or during urination, urine that has an unusual color or smell, a complete inability to urinate, blood in the urine, pain in the lower abdomen and urinary tract, and any of the above symptoms that are accompanied by fever and chills. These signs may indicate a urinary tract infection, prostatitis, or prostate cancer.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In TCM terms, the symptoms related to an enlarged prostate are assessed by considering both Excess and Deficiency syndromes. There may Liver Qi Stagnation, Blood stasis, Damp Heat, and possibly Phlegm. Deficiencies include both Kidney Yang and Kidney Yin deficiencies and possibly Spleen Qi deficiency with accompanying sinking Qi.
Signs to Look For
Careful observation is required to determine the precise etiology in each patient. The tongue maybe purple or red, or swollen with red, raised spots at root. The tongue coating may appear thick and yellow or greasy at root. The location on the tongue of these indicators points to the Lower Jiao. The tongue may be “normal” if the primary issue is Qi Stagnation. The pulse may have various combinations of slippery, wiry, and/or thin, and the pulse rate could be slightly rapid if there is Yin deficiency or rapid if there is actual Heat. With Kidney Yang deficiency, palpation of the lower back, knees, feet, and hands for Coldness, due to Yang deficiency, is required.
Plum Flower® Kai Kit Wan
Kai Kit Wan is the popularized name in Hong Kong for Jiè Jié Wán (解結丸), which literally means “to untie a knot” and refers specifically to reducing swelling in the prostate. There are many ingredient variations among manufacturers and similarly functioning formulas in the PRC are known as Qián Liè Xiàn Wán (前列腺前列腺), Prostate Gland Pills.
Plum Flower® Kai Kit Wan provides support for a healthy prostate since it moves Qi and Blood, invigorates Blood, clears Heat, and drains Dampness. Mayway’s retail-friendly version of this product is Bamboo Pharmacy™ Prostate Support.
This formula is elegantly designed to ease disorders of the prostate. It conditions and improves the functional activity of the prostate gland by reducing swelling, inflammation, and discomfort.
Functions of the Ingredients
Wang bu liu xing is the chief ingredient and is bitter and downward draining. It invigorates blood in the channels and collaterals, disperses and reduces swelling, and promotes movement without restraint. Modern research has shown that Wang bu liu xing is especially effective in cases of benign prostate congestion.
Bai jiang cao is pungent, bitter, and slightly cold. It clears Heat and resolves toxic swellings, dispels blood stasis, and stops pain.
Chi shao is sour, bitter, and slightly cold. It invigorates Blood and dispels blood stasis, clears Heat, cools the Blood, and reduces swelling.
Huang qi is sweet and slightly warm. It is used to tonify Qi and Blood, tonify Spleen Qi, raise Yang, promote urination, and reduce edema and swelling.
Mu dan pi is pungent, bitter, and slightly cold. It clears Heat, cools Blood, clears deficiency Fire, dispels Blood stasis, and reduces swelling.
Mu tong is bitter and slightly cold. Mu tong promotes urination, drains Damp-Heat, and stops painful dribbling of urine.
Mu xiang is pungent, bitter, and warm. It is used to regulate Qi by promoting the movement of Qi. It also stops pain and warms and strengthens the Spleen to remove Dampness.
Yan hu suo is pungent, bitter, and warm. It is used to invigorate Blood, break Blood stasis and promote the movement of Qi to stop pain in the Lower Jiao when combined with Mu xiang.
Gan cao is sweet and neutral. It is used to tonify the Spleen, moderate and harmonize, and guide the other herbs into the channels.
Kai Kit Wan is quite effective to treat the Excess patterns of an enlarged prostate. To address underlying deficiencies, one can combine with other formulas, as appropriate. If a patient clearly demonstrates Kidney Yang deficiency, then one can combine with a Yang tonic formula such as Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan (Golden Book Teapills). If there is Kidney Yin deficiency, I usually recommend Zhi Bai di Huang Wan (Eight Flavor Rehmannia Teapills) for its treatment of Yin deficient Heat. In the case of Spleen Qi sinking, then Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan (Central Qi Teapills) is indicated. When there are clear signs of Heat in the urinary tract, then combine with Ba Zheng Wan (Eight Righteous Teapills).
Cautions and Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with hemorrhagic disorders. Use with caution in patients on anti-coagulant therapy. Contraindicated during pregnancy (of course, this is primarily a formula that is used with male patients).
Plum Flower® Kai Kit Wan and Bamboo Pharmacy™ Prostate Support are effective strategies, along with the proper constitutional formulas and dietary modifications, to remedy one of the most common issues facing men as their testosterone declines. The natural enlargement of their prostate does not need to affect their quality of life as they age. Traditional Chinese Medicine can help.
- Bensky, D. et al., Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, 3rd ed., Eastland Press: 2004.
- Fratkin, J.P., Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines, The Clinical Desk Reference, Shya Publications, 2001.
- Maclean, Will, Clinical Manual of Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines, Pangolin Press: 2003
- Prostatitis Relief with Kai Kit Wan, https://eastmeetswest.com/kai-kit-wan/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia#causes
- Wrinkle, A. et al., A Practitioner’s Formula Guide, Elemental Essentials Press: 2008.
| Bio: Skye Sturgeon, DAOM, L.Ac.
Skye is the Quality Assurance Manager and Special Consultant for Mayway, USA. Skye was the former Chair of Acupuncture & East Asian Medicine and core faculty member at Bastyr University, core faculty member and Faculty Council Chair at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and President and Senior Professor of the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley. Before making Chinese medicine his career choice, Skye held various positions in the Natural Foods Industry for 12 years and prior to that was a clinical biochemist and toxicologist.