Over the past few decades’ society has begun to allow a more open forum with regards to sex and sexuality. Despite the fact that some issues regarding sexuality are still being debated, it is not uncommon for the media to discuss issues such as male sexual dysfunction, also known as Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Many myths have been portrayed over time suggesting that a man’s sexual function and stamina define the man. The pharmaceutical companies and the media have continued to perpetuate this myth by promoting drugs with ads that suggest that unless you take this drug you will be unable to satisfy your partner. Even the word impotence is synonymous with helpless, inadequate, and useless. Satisfaction is defined as, “the act of filling a desire or need or appetite.” This suggests that satisfaction can come in many forms and not just through sexual performance.
Human sexuality begins in the brain. It is true that certain diseases or drugs may cause sexual dysfunction, but occasionally it can stem from a dissatisfaction, which emanates from elsewhere in our lives. A few things that may affect performance include poor physical condition, depression, bad relationships, dissatisfaction with a job or work environment, and stress. Regardless of the cause, sexual dysfunction can have a devastating affect on the psyche.
It is reassuring for some to know that there are pharmaceutical drugs, which have been developed and claim to extend the duration of an erection, help to sustain an erection, and can work in as little as fourteen minutes. However, the risks associated with such drugs are monumental. In July 2005, the FDA issued an alert, which stated, “A small number of men have lost eyesight in one eye some time after taking Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra. This type of vision loss is called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). NAION causes a sudden loss of eyesight because blood flow is blocked to the optic nerve.” Other risks include diarrhea, dyspepsia, headache, Urinary Tract infection, visual disturbances, vision loss, breast enlargement, cardiac arrest, cardiac death, depression, seizures, etc. This does indeed seem like a high price to pay when there are alternatives to pharmaceuticals, which have few if any known side effects.
In dealing with disease or illness we often state that prevention is the key. Most of us are fairly conscientious when it comes to maintaining our vehicles. We take our cars in for an oil change, tire rotation, and tune-ups in the hopes of preventing problems in the future. However, we are not always that conscientious when it comes to our bodies. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and reducing stress have all been proven to reduce the risk of disease. Despite this knowledge many of us continue to abuse our bodies until it is to late and the chronic illness and disease is already present. At this point quiet a number of people resort to prescription drugs for conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, just to mention a few. Many of these drugs are known to cause sexual dysfunction. So the question is, if we know that eating healthy, exercising, and reducing stress will help to prevent disease and keep us from having to resort to prescription drugs, which promote sexual dysfunction, why don’t we?
Fortunately, everything we need for good health exists in nature. There are quiet a number of herbs and nutrients, which are effective in enhancing sexual function and performance.
Yohimbe is a tonic herb with stimulating properties, which has been used as an aphrodisiac. This herb has affects on the circulatory system and is thought to increase blood flow to the pelvic area. However, Yohimbe should not be used with other drugs or where there is inflammation of the organs or with someone who has high blood pressure.
Ashwagandha is a tonic herb, which acts as an aphrodisiac. It is recommended for the reproductive system, nervous system, and the musculo-skeletal system. Specifically recommended for male sexual dysfunction and to increase fertility.
Schizandra is known as a sexual enhancer, increases blood circulation, and is an adaptogen, which helps to increase energy to the entire body.
Sarsparilla contains a testosterone like chemical, which aid the male sexual dysfunctions.
Other herbs, which are of great benefit, are Damiana, Saw Palmetto, Siberian ginseng, and Donq quai.
Some nutrients to consider would be Zinc and Vitamin C, which help to boost testosterone levels, Vitamin E to increase circulation, and Selenium, which has been shown to improve sperm production and motility.
Prior to taking anything for impotence you should first try to determine what might be causing the problem. Consider what drugs you are taking, what medical conditions you may have, and what psychological issues or stresses may be burdening you. If you are doing recreational drugs or alcohol consider these as a potential underlying cause. Examine your lifestyle to see if a poor diet or lack of exercise could be contributing to the problem. If there are underlying physical or mental issues try resolving them first before moving on to any alternative. If you still need some support, you may want to consider some of the herbs that we have discussed. Take particular care in where and what you purchase. Just because something is labeled standardized or natural doesn’t mean that you are getting a pure product.
© Natalie Vickery, June 2006
- Balch, P & Balch, J. (2000). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2005) FDA Alert: Viagra (sildenafil citrate) Information (Online). Available: http://www.fda.gov/cder/consumerinfo/viagra/
- Green, J. (1991). The Male Herbal: Healthcare for Men & Boys. Berkley: The Crossing Press.
- Haas, E. (1992) Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkley: Celestial Arts.
- Hoffman, D. (1993). An Elders’ Herbal. Rochester: Healing Arts Press.
- Ritchason, J. (1995). The Little Herb Encyclopedia. Third Edition. Pleasant Grove: Woodland Publishing Inc.