With the advent of the “little blue pill” men’s sexual health has been thrust into the public eye and now, rather than worrying in embarrassed silence about “performance” issues, men are able to openly seek the help they need to function at their best. This is good news for the 30 million American men who suffer from erectile dysfunction or ED.1 And because 70 percent of ED cases are physiological in nature (it’s not just in your head) and often a sign of some other serious health issue, it is wise to address and correct the underlying physical imbalances that are hindering performance in the first place, ensuring both shortterm happiness and long-term health.
The role of the practitioner providing a naturopathic treatment plan is to first identify the cause of the individual's ED. If the cause is psychogenic (i.e. performance anxiety, depression, relationship problems), referral to a psychotherapist should be considered. Organic causes like metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, or diabetes type II can be properly treated with lifestyle medicine and other numerous nutritional prescriptions beyond the scope of this article to discuss.
A number of nonprescription products claim to be herbal forms of Viagra. Some of these products contain unknown amounts of ingredients similar to those in prescription medications, which can cause dangerous side effects. Some actually contain the real drug, which should be given by prescription only. Although the Food and Drug Administration has banned many of these products, some potentially dangerous erectile dysfunction remedies remain on the market.
It can’t be stressed enough — a healthy diet and lifestyle has numerous benefits, including in the bedroom. ED is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, so eating a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains can reduce your chance of developing heart problems and, in turn, can alleviate your ED.
A 2000 study conducted at the Institute of Sexology in (where else?) Paris found that muira puama, a Brazilian shrub traditionally used in South African folk medicine as an aphrodisiac, increased libido in a majority of men who complained of impotence and a lack of desire. Other studies show this happy-making herb also counteracts chronic stress, depression and nervous exhaustion.
There are many different treatment options for erectile dysfunction but your individual diagnosis will determine which treatment option is right for you. It is important to realize that not all treatment options will work for everyone. A doctor who has specialized in men’s sexual health (typically a urologist) will be the most qualified to discuss all of your treatment options with you. Many specialists will often encourage you to schedule additional follow up appointments to review how your treatment is working for you or if a different option may be more beneficial.
For obvious reasons, ED can be a sensitive subject, one that until relatively recently men were more likely to try to hide than to deal with. Fortunately, a deeper understanding of the variety of causes of erectile dysfunction has led to medications, therapies, and other treatments that can be more individualized and more likely to be effective—and more open discussion about addressing the concern.
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If you like your food like you like your lovers—sweet and spicy—you’re in luck. Ginger is another food that can improve your bedroom life by aiding blood flow and improving artery health. According to a study in the International Journal of Cardiology, consuming a mere teaspoon of the stuff a few times a week is all you need to reap the heart-healthy benefits. The spice has also been shown to boost levels of testosterone and sperm viability. So go ahead and place that second order of sushi this week—just don’t leave the ginger on your plate.
The lack of strong scientific proof that vitamin supplementation can improve erectile function doesn’t stop companies from selling vitamins, herbal supplements, and other products with the promise that they will do the job. ED is often treatable with prescription medications or medical procedures, so be careful not to get taken by a manufacturer’s empty promises.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Despite the name, horny goat weed actually helps improve your erection, not libido. Botanically known as epimedium, this herb has been used by the Chinese for centuries to treat, among other things, low libido and erectile dysfunction. “A growing body of research shows that isolated icariin—the extract of epimedium—inhibits the enzyme phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) and significantly increases nitric oxide synthase, helping to improve erectile function,” says Fisch. In fact, this is the same mechanism that Viagra works through (but the herb comes with a way better name).
Qigong is a form of breathing exercises commonly practised in Asia to maintain health (53). In a cross-sectional population-based comparison study in Taiwan, individuals practising Qigong demonstrate higher SF-36 scores in the domains of physical functioning, role limitations due to physical problems, bodily pain, general health and vitality (54). Techniques to concentrate the energy or qi in the pelvis or genitals are regularly practised, but the effects of Qigong on ED have not been studied.
Yohimbe A number of clinical trials have shown that the primary component of this bark from an African tree can improve sexual dysfunction associated with selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression. This herb has been linked to a number of side effects, including increased blood pressure, fast or irregular heartbeat, and anxiety. Yohimbe shouldn't be used without a doctor's supervision.