Most importantly, herbal supplements are not well regulated in the United States. Studies have shown that 40-50% of herbal supplements do not even contain the supposed main ingredient, and many contain substances that are not listed which may have dangerous side effects2. Another study found that over two thirds of the products tested had substituted other plant species for the plants listed on the label, and a third of products also contained other fillers or contaminants3. A study by the New York State Attorney General of herbal products sold at GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart found that four out of every five products didn’t contain the ingredient they claimed! Fourteen US states and territories have petitioned Congress to regulate the herbal supplements industry.
In Western medicine approach, health and disease are clearly divided entities. The emphasis is on protection of the individual body from disease or how to replace the body’s lost functions. Antibiotic therapy is used to combat harmful bacteria during infections, exogenous synthetic hormones are used to replace hormone-deficient individuals and artificial prostheses are applied when an organ loses its functions. This is very different from the holistic Eastern approach where the treatment entity is taken as a whole, and the objective is to seek harmony between different bodily systems.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
I mentioned taking herbs and supplements to treat erectile dysfunction, so I want to add a note of caution about using so-called “natural male enhancement” pills. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls dozens (if not hundreds) of these products each year for containing the active ingredient in medications used to treat ED. When you buy those products from the internet, or even from a retail store, you have no real way of knowing what you’re ingesting. The active ingredient in drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra can negatively interact with other medications, so it’s essential that you take them with medical supervision.
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.
Acupuncture. Though acupuncture has been used to treat male sexual problems for centuries, the scientific evidence to support its use for erectile dysfunction is equivocal at best. In 2009, South Korean scientists conducted a systematic review of studies on acupuncture for ED. They found major design flaws in all of the studies, concluding that "the evidence is insufficient to suggest that acupuncture is an effective intervention for treating ED."