These medications don’t work for everyone but they are easy to use and work for around 60% of people who try them. They work by making it easier to get an erection by reducing the effect of (inhibiting) the chemical PDE-5. This chemical is used in the body to make sure there isn’t too much blood in the penis during an erection, but if you have erectile dysfunction then this chemical ends up over-compensating.
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.
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.
The art of acupuncture has become the new treatment for everything from back pain, depression, and even ED. Impotence could be more of a state of mind, and acupuncture may help. Through this alternative therapy, fine needles are placed in various parts of the body to relieve pain or stress. Although there are many mixed studies for acupuncture and ED, many tend to confirm positive results. A 1999 study found acupuncture improved the quality of erection and even restored sexual activity in 39 percent of participants.
With drug therapy, there’s a risk of side effects such as headaches, back pain or an upset stomach. Before taking any medication for erectile dysfunction it is important to ensure your doctor is ok with that decision. Medication may not work for all men, for instance, if you have diabetes or have previously had prostate surgery. ED medication might also have serious risks if you’re currently taking nitrates (commonly prescribed for chest pain), have heart disease or have low blood pressure.22
B-vitamin complex helps to support normal energy production and is also essential for supporting the normal functioning of the body during times of stress. Stress quickly depletes the body’s reserves of the B vitamins. Look for a B-complex containing 20-50 mg of vitamins B1, B2, and B3. The other B vitamins should be included in their relative proportions.
Contrary to popular belief, the penis does not have a mind of its own. To make it a fine and upstanding specimen, your neurons must be co-ordinated with military precision. You need thiamine, aka vitamin B1, for a healthy nervous system, so eat pork to help fire your swimmers in the right direction. Can’t or don’t eat pig? Get your B from beans and wholemeal bread.
The development of PDE5-inhibitors is a clear example of how Western medicine approached the problem of ED differently from Eastern medicine. The erectogenic effect of sildenafil (Viagra®) was discovered by accident when patients undergoing heart clinical trials reported better erections as a side effect after taking sildenafil. This observation led to further elucidation of the NO/cGMP signalling pathway and development of PDE5-inhibitors as a first-line therapy in ED (5).
According to historians, ancient Egyptians used garlic to boost their stamina. While they didn’t have modern-day science to confirm that it actually worked, they were most certainly onto something. Researchers have confirmed that consuming the plant helps stop the formation of new fatty deposits, called nanoplaques, inside arterial walls. Yup, that includes the arteries leading to your penis, too. Keep your heart healthy and your erections strong by adding the kitchen staple to your weekly dishes.
Physical and emotional stress — whether over-exercising, under-sleeping or just dealing with everyday stressors like work and a busy schedule — causes an increase in “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline. Stress can lower desire for sex. This is because stress can contribute to fatigue or preoccupation with other tasks. It can also significantly affect blood flow by increasing inflammation.
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.

A recent study found that men with erectile dysfunction who ate pistachio nuts every day for three weeks experienced significant improvement in sexual issues, including ED, sexual desire, and overall sexual satisfaction. The benefits of pistachios for erection problems may be due to a protein called arginine, which may help relax blood vessels. "This is another example of how good circulation is good for sexual health, which is good news because I eat a lot of pistachios," says Dr. Daneshgari.


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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).
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.
Wine – especially red wine – is a great source of the antioxidant phytochemical resveratrol, which helps open the arteries by enhancing the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide allows the blood vessels to expand, and this is how Viagra works. But while the little blue pill only works on tiny blood vessels, resveratrol helps your main arteries too. Make sure you stop at one or two glasses of wine – too much alcohol leads to the dreaded droop.
Conventional impotence treatments typically involve the use of medications which work with the body's natural chemistry in order to promote the ability to have an erection. Oral medications such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are commonly prescribed; injectable medications such as the impotence drug Caverject are also used for treating male impotence.

Cavallini, G., Modenini, F., Vitali, G., & Koverech, A. (2005, November). Acetyl-L-carnitine plus propionyl-L-carnitine improve efficacy of sildenafil in treatment of erectile dysfunction after bilateral nerve-sparing radical retropubic prostatectomy. Urology, 66(5), 1080-5. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0090429505006515
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