Sexual Dysfunction: Causes and Natural Remedies
Sexual Dysfunction: Causes, And Natural RemediesSexual dysfunction, a decline in libido, and impotence, affects fifty percent of men between the age of 40 and 70 in the United States. This condition is now referred to as “erectile dysfunction.” It can be defined as the inability to obtain and/or maintain penile erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance.
Male erectile dysfunction can be considered a chronic disease, with medical, psychological, sociological and behavioral components.
Medically, the condition can be related to chronic illness or drug side effects. Cardiovascular disease, smoking, obesity and elevated cholesterol can play a role. Psychological factors can play a role also, especially in younger men.
Erectile dysfunction is not an inevitable consequence of aging. “It’s true that as you get older, you may need more stimulation (such as stroking and touching) to achieve an erection. You might also need to wait more time between erections. But older men need not accept sexual dysfunction as a normal consequence of aging.”1
The sexual response involves much more than merely the sexual organs. There are several major areas of the human body that play a part in sexual arousal. These include hormonal, vascular, neural, psychological, and chemical processes.
Can this condition be treated? There are natural remedies that can be very effective. But before turning to natural remedies, it is important to examine for underlying causes, and treat the cause when possible. For example, talk to your pharmacist or physician about the prescription drugs you are taking. If your medications are contributing to the problem, look for alternatives. The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is vascular disease. Treatment of atherosclerosis, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure is therefor essential, as is attention to other risk factors such as smoking and obesity.
An enlarged prostate can easily contribute to erectile dysfunction, and either conventional medical treatments and/or natural remedies should be pursued. Natural substances such as Saw Palmetto Berry are often a component of natural remedies for erectile dysfunction.
Herbal medicines are often used in the natural treatment of erectile dysfunction. “Improving sexual desire and function is possible using herbs that (1) improve the activity of the male glandular system, (2) improve the blood supply to erectile tissue, and (3) enhance the transmission or stimulation of the nerve signal.” 2
Turning to natural herbal remedies can be rewarding, but deciding which herbs to use, and what product is trustworthy, can be daunting. We have evaluated the various options, and formulated a blend of effective, compatible herbs, along with two synergistic vitamins, in a liquid herbal supplement under the Willner Chemists Phyto-Tech line, Male Virility. The herbs used in this product, and the rationale behind their selection, are as follows:
Maca RootMaca Root. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root-like vegetable that grows in the harsh climate of the Andes Mountains in South America. Maca is traditionally used in the Andean region as an aphrodisiac and fertility-enhancing substance. According to Dr. Sahelian, “Maca seems destined to become more popular with time since human studies indicate that it is a true herbal sex booster. The actions of the Andean aphrodisiac seems more geared towards enhancing libido than just aiding erections. Maca can certainly be combined with other sex-boosting herb and supplements. . .” 1
In one study, male mice fed high doses of maca increased three-fold the frequency with which they coupled with female mice.3 Human studies show similar results. In a twelve week double blind randomized trial in Peru, various doses of Maca was compared to placebo. An improvement in sexual desire was observed after eight weeks of treatment. Another study, on normal men aged 24 to 44 years of age, revealed that maca resulted in an increase of seminal volume, sperm count per ejaculation, and increased sperm motility. In both of these human studies, hormone levels in the blood did not seem to be affected.
Horny Goat WeedEpimedium Herb. Also known as “horny goat weed,” this is an herb common to Asia and the Mediterranean. The Chinese call it Yin Yang Huo (“licentious goat plant.) The story is that herders noticed increased sexual activity among their goats after they ate this plant. And, to avoid any confusion, we are talking about the goats eating the plant, not the herders. Despite a history of Epimedium herb being used for the treatment of kidney, liver and joint problems, it’s commonly used now as an aphrodisiac and anti-fatigue agent.
Many herbalists believe that best results are obtained when herbs for treating sexual dysfunction are used in combination. This allows for synergistic action, and minimizes any possible side effects that might result from higher dosages of individual herbs. This is often inherent to various healing philosophies. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, most “sexual herbal tonics are combinations of herbs that nourish the kidneys. Horny goat weed (Epimedium sagittatum) is an example of an herb that 'warms the kidneys,' raising sexual energy for both women and men. (In TCM the kidneys are considered susceptible to 'cold.' Herbs that nurture the kidneys promote 'warmth' of the kidneys.).”4
Another source describes Epimedium as follows. “Yin yang huo is the aboveground parts or leaf of epimedium (Epimedium sagittatum), commonly known as horny goat weed. Studies have shown that epimedium may restore low levels of both testosterone and thyroid hormone. Epimedium also increases muscle mass; it is used as a treatment for fatigue and aging; and it has a vasodilation effect.”5
Wild OatWild Oat. Wild oat (Avena sativa) is another traditional tonic and aphrodisiac.6 As is the case with Horney Goat Weed, initial interest in this herb as an aphrodisiac relates to its observed effect on horses and other animals. Also known as Oats Milky Seed, it is used to stimulate both men and women, and has gained acceptance as a treatment for impotence and premature ejaculation.
There is little research supporting this, however, so it’s mechanism of action remains unknown. According to Dr. Presser, however, “Perhaps Oats’ use as a restorative from nervous prostration led to the expression ‘feeling one’s oats.’ Or, could the cliche come from the fact that in China, Oats are used to regenerate the male reproductive system. There is even some interest in the use of Oats to stimulate female libido.”7
He explains: “Fascinating research was born from the Chinese use of Oats for hormonal restoration. Modern science now has a clue to substantiate the use. Oat does have a potential influence on reproductive hormones based on its ability to stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone from a brain gland, at least in animal studies. Since luteinizing hormone stimulates the release of testosterone, and testosterone is the primary sex hormone for male performance and female libido, a link has been made.”7
Tribulus Seed.Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) has been tested for its active agent protodioscin, and has been clinically proven in a randomized double-blind trial to improve sexual desire and enhance erection via the conversion of protodioscin to dehydroepiandrosterone. Furthermore, treatment with tribulus has resulted in pregnancies of women from sub-fertile husbands, as well as increased frequency of successful intercourse.5 Sahelian, in his book, acknowledges the presence of saponins such as protodioscin, but explains that Tribulus “seems to work by relaxing smooth muscles and increasing blood flow into the corpus cavernosa. The relaxant effect observed is probably due to the increase in the release of nitric oxide from the endothelium and nerve endings.”1
While Tribulus “exhibits moderate libido- and erection-enhancing properties,” its greatest popularity at this time may be with bodybuilders, who consider it a “testosterone stimulator.” According to Colker, Tribulus “is thought of by the bodybuilding community as sort of a poor man’s HCG. It is taken with the hope of boosting the body’s own production of testosterone.”8
Yohimbe BarkYohimbe Bark. Yohimbe is one of the most popular and effective sex stimulants for both men and women. Yohimbe is a tree, Pausinystalia johimbe, native to tropical West Africa. Yohimbine (note the spelling) is an alkaloid that is isolated, or extracted, from the bark. This isolated component of Yohimbe bark, yohimbine, is the FDA approved, prescription medication for treating impotence, or erectile dysfunction. There are many studies on yohimbine, and the mechanism of action is well known. It works. It increases libido and increases blood flow to the penis.
But yohimbine, the drug, has side effects. It should only be used under a doctor’s supervision. Yohimbe bark also works, but is less potent and, as you would expect, less likely to cause side effects–especially when taken in moderate to low dosage. This is another example of a situation where the benefits of a synergistic mixture of lower dose components can be preferable to higher dose, individual substances. “Unless it is combined with other herbs to balance its effects, yohimbe can cause hypertension and severe headaches.”4
How does yohimbine work? Two ways. In the brain, yohimbine stimulates the release of norepinephrine, which increases sexual arousal and body temperature. Peripherally, yohimbine blocks alpha 2-adrenoceptors in the nerves of the genital region, thus allowing dilation of blood vessels and the corpora cavernosa. This allows for increased blood to flow to the penis and proper erection.1
Saw Palmetto BerrySaw Palmetto Berry. Saw Palmetto berries were actually an official drug in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1906 to 1916, and official in the National Formulary from 1926 to 1950. The official indications included chronic and sub-acute cystitis, chronic bronchitis, laryngitis, catarrh that accompanies asthma, and enlarged prostate. Early during this period it was also thought to increase sperm production and sex drive in men, and became a popular men’s tonic.
We cannot ignore the fact that another source of erectile dysfunction is disease or trauma to the male sexual organs. An enlarged prostate is one of the most common examples. Over fifty percent of men develop an enlarged prostate during their lifetime. Saw Palmetto berry extract is one of the most effective, side-effect free ways to treat mild to moderate prostate enlargement.
American Ginseng RootAmerican Ginseng Root. Ginseng is one of the most popular herbs used for the treatment of ED due to its claimed effects as a general health stimulant and an enhancer of male potency.5
The tonic and adaptogenic activity of Asian ginseng is thought to enhance physical performance, which includes sexual stamina.9
“Recent studies in laboratory animals have shown that both the Asian and American forms of ginseng enhance libido and copulatory performance. These effects of ginseng may not be due to changes in hormone secretion, but to the direct effects of ginseng, or its ginsenoside components, on the central nervous system and gonadal tissues. There is good evidence that ginsenosides can facilitate penile erection by directly inducing the vasodilation and relaxation of penile corpus cavernosa. Moreover, the effects of ginseng on the corpus cavernosa appear to be mediated by the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells and from nerves that surround the vessels. Treatment with American ginseng also affects the central nervous system and has been shown to significantly alter the activity of hypothalamic catecholamines, such as dopamine and norephinephrine, involved in the facilitation of copulatory behavior and hormone secretion. According to recent findings, ginseng treatment decreases prolactin secretion, which also suggests a direct effect of ginseng at the level of the pituitary gland. High levels of prolactin inhibit libido.” 1
L-ArginineL-Arginine. Arginine is an amino acid. Among it’s other properties, it can be metabolized into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the most powerful chemical known to dilate and engorge blood vessels of the penis and clitoris.
“The amino acid L-arginine is the biologic precursor of Nitric Oxide (NO), which is involved in a variety of endothelium-dependent physiological effects, including atherosclerosis. Impaired penile endothelial L-arginine-NO activity also appears to play a role in the pathogenesis of ED. It's been suggested that ED is sometimes actually a manifestation of atherosclerosis. Studies have shown correlations between the presence of ED and ischemic heart disease. While human clinical trials of L-arginine for ED have yielded mixed results, the majority have shown positive treatment results. . .”9
Alone, much larger doses are required to achieve this effect. A relatively small amount is included in the Phyto-Tech Male Virility formula.
Pine Bark ExtractPine Bark Extract. Pine bark extract has also been shown to boost the body’s product of nitric oxide. 10
Another study showed that “Pine bark extract helps with male infertility. Men who took 200 mg Pycnogenol brand pine bark extract for 90 days had a 38% improvement in sperm 'quality and function.' “
PHYTO-TECH MALE VIRILITY FORMULA
1 FLUID OZ, PRODUCT CODE 57731
DESCRIPTION[ Phyto-Tech Male Virility is a blend of well-researched herbs known to enhance men's libido and sexual performance.
INDICATIONS[ Who might benefit from this herbal supplement? Those men who suffer from decreased libido or impaired sexual function.
DOSAGE[ 30 drops, once per day in juice or water.
CAUTIONS[ There may be serious underlying medical problems that could contribute to, or cause, male sexual dysfunction. Consult with a physicial to determine if such problems exist. Use this product under the supervision of a health professional.
Important Notice: The information given here is designed to help you make informed decisions about your health, and the proper use of dietary supplements. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, nor a substitute for any treatment that may have been prescribed by your doctor. If you have a medical problem, you should seek medical help. Products described herein are not intended to treat, cure or mitigate disease..
INGREDIENTS[ Ingredients: Maca Root 97 mg, Epimedium Herb 75 mg, Fresh Wild Oat Seed 75 mg, Tribulus Seed 75 mg, Yohimbe Bark 50 mg, Saw Palmetto Berry 17 mg, American Ginseng Root 17 mg, Vitamin B12 60 mcg, L-Arginine 20 mg, Pine Park Extract 5 mg.
1. Sahelian, M.D., Ray. Natural Sex Boosters. Square One Publishers 2004.
2. Murray, N.D., Michael and Pizzorno, N.D. Joseph. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. Prima Publishing 1995.
3. Zheng BL, Kim CH, Rogers L, Shao Y, Huang ZY, Lu Y, Yan SJ, Qien LC, Zheng QY. Effect of a lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats Urology. Vol. 55, No. 4, 2000:598-602.
4. Zhou, James. Chinese Herbs for Kidney Energy, Immunity and Sexual Vitality Health Supplement Retailer.
5. Low WY, Tan HM. Asian traditional medicine for erectile dysfunction J Men Health Gender. 2007; 4(3):245-250.
6. Babal, Ken. Great Expectations: Hot Herbs in '99 Nutrition Science News. January, 1999, Vol. 4, No. 1:pp. 38-40, 42, 44.
7. Presser, Dr. Arthur. Pharmacist’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs.Smart Publications. 2000.
8. Colker, M.D., Carlon M. Sex Pills: Whjat Works and What Doesn’t. Advanced Research Press. 1999.
9. MacKay D. Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence Alternative Medicine Review. 2004;9(1):4-16.
10. K. Nishioka, T. Hidaka, S. Nakamura, T. Umemura, D. Jitsuiki, J. Soga, C. Goto, K. Chayama, M. Yoshizumi, Y. Higashi. "Pycnogenol, French Maritime Pine Bark Extract, Augments Endothelium-Dependent Vasodilation in Humans" Hypertension Research
October 2007, Volume 30, Pages 775-780
11. Wetherbee K. Infertility: improving the odds Herbs for Health. 2004;December:.