"Evidence that foods can help with ED is probably related to a vascular connection," says Firouz Daneshgari, MD, professor and chairman of the department of urology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "Erectile problems are usually due to not having a good blood supply to the penis, so foods that are good for your vascular system may also help prevent ED." Should you eat more of the foods containing these key nutrients?
To understand the physiology of erectile dysfunction, we need to know erection first. An erection occurs when impulses from the brain and genital nerves cause blood to fill the two chambers known as the corpora cavernosa in the male penis. This causes the penis to expand and stiffen. Anything that blocks these impulses or restricts blood flow to the penis can result in ED. This block may be caused by psychological, neurologic, hormonal, arterial, or cavernosal impairment or even from a combination of all these factors.3
It’s the truth: You reach a certain age where having sex isn’t as easy or satisfying as it used to be. Many factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED) — anything from smoking to cardiovascular disease to general stress — and you shouldn’t be shy about discussing any erectile problems with your doctor. If there’s an underlying health condition causing your troubles, treating the cause may get you back to top form in no time.
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.
Enlargement of the prostate gland, another condition that occurs with increasing frequency in men as they age, can also cause ED. In a 2012 Swiss study, 82 men with moderate to severe symptoms of prostate enlargement, who were also experiencing problems such as ED or loss of libido, took 320 mg of saw palmetto extract daily for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the men’s ‘International Prostate Symptom Score’ (IPSS), a method of measuring prostate health based on a questionnaire, was reduced by an average of 51 percent. In addition, their ED, libido, and other sexual functions had also improved by an average of over 40 percent. Unlike the drug approaches used in conventional medicine, which can even cause ED as a side effect, saw palmetto is very effective in treating prostate problems and is free from side effects.
This treat may have perks below the belt. An ounce a few times a week can help your ticker -- and what’s good for your heart could be good for other parts, too. Chocolate is rich in flavanols, plant nutrients that can increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. It also helps your body make more of nitric oxide, which can help with erections and is in many ED medications.
Deer velvet is a covering found on the growing bone and cartilage of deer’s antlers. In Eastern medicine, deer velvet is sought after for its Chinese medicinal properties which include boosting one’s endurance and improving one’s immunity. People have also used deer velvet as an aphrodisiac or to treat ED. The randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study on deer velvet by Conaglen et al. (31), no benefit but this study was underpowered involving healthy participants with no sexual dysfunction.
Ginseng is the most common ingredient among top-selling supplements for men’s sexual health (36). The English word ginseng derives from the Chinese term renshen. Ren means “person” and shen means “plant root”. This plant has been named in this manner as its roots resemble the lower limbs of a human, Traditionally, ginseng has been used to restore and enhance the normal well-being of the body. The effects are due to ginseng’s reactions with the central nervous system, metabolism, immune function and cardiovascular system. The principal active compounds are triterpene saponins known as ginsenosides. Animal studies have suggested that specific ginsenosides may be responsible for ginseng-mediated effects on copulatory behavior (37). Ginsenoside induces smooth muscle relaxation by hyperpolarizing the smooth muscle membrane via activation of large-conductance KCa channels (38).
Consider this: penicillin, the first successful antibiotic, was derived from molds that inhibit bacterial growth. Scientists had to figure out why the molds slowed bacteria, and refine the active ingredients. Using herbal supplements is somewhat like putting mold on a wound. It might help, a little, but it’s certainly not going to help as much as using penicillin.
If you have symptoms of ED, it’s important to check with your doctor before trying any treatments on your own. This is because ED can be a sign of other health problems. For instance, heart disease or high cholesterol could cause ED symptoms. With a diagnosis, your doctor could recommend a number of steps that would likely improve both your heart health and your ED. These steps include lowering your cholesterol, reducing your weight, or taking medications to unclog your blood vessels.