Most sincere gratitude to the sponsors, Third World Organisation for Women in Sciences (TWOWS), NUFU Medicinal plants Project through Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Makerere University, UNESCO-MAB Young Scientist Research Award, 2000, Gender studies, Makerere University and WHO-Uganda. The Staff of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Field assistants, local leaders, the resource users and all respondents, particularly the TBAs and traditional healers in Bushenyi, Mbarara and Kasese Districts who provided the information.
The Science: Some studies have implied that feeding maca to domestic cattle increases sperm production, but there is very little data about any sexual effect on humans. One very small randomized double-bind trial of men with erectile dysfunction found that men taking maca extract reported a small increase in their ability to get erections. But so did the control group. As with the fenugreek study, a similar study with a larger group of people is needed to see whether any differences between the controls and the maca-eaters are real.
Tribulus terrestris (6): this plant has long been used as a folk medicine in Eastern Europe and Bulgaria for sexual deficiency (5). The properties of this powerful ingredient have been associated with an increase in sperm production, sexual endurance, and testosterone levels. Also known as puncture vine, this herb has gained popularity over the past few years. Since testosterone plays a huge role for men, the addition of this herb can prove to be very beneficial. It is not a hormone as some believe. It is said that Tribulus terrestris can also help build muscle and strength, which enhances performance (5,7).
Usually patients will try less invasive alternatives to treat impotence before opting for surgery. These alternatives may include supplements, herbs, lifestyle changes and even medications. In cases where other treatments do not work to resolve ED, surgery might be a last-resort option. Surgery involves implanting a penile prosthesis. This is a saline-filled silicone device or a malleable device. Although the likelihood of serious side effects is considered to be low, certain risks are associated with surgery to correct erectile dysfunction. These side effects may include: anesthetic risk, device infection, and device malfunction or mechanical failure. Some studies have found that five years following surgery around 10–20 percent of men experience device malfunction and failure. Infection rates are low. Around one percent of men who opt for this type of surgery get an infection.
The search for a cure for erectile dysfunction (ED) dates back way before the introduction of Viagra in the 1990s. Natural aphrodisiacs, from ground rhinoceros horn topa chocolate, have long been used to increase libido, potency, or sexual pleasure. These natural remedies are also popular because they’re said to have fewer side effects than prescribed medications.
Therefore, this particular study was carried out purposely to document medicinal plants used by traditional medical practitioners to treat ED and sexual impotence and other male erectile related conditions in western Uganda. This manuscript only covers the ethnobotanical documentation of medicinal plants used in the management of erectile dysfunction excluding the socio-cultural aspects. The socio-cultural aspects in details will be presented in the next manuscript covering the broad range of reproductive health ailments management using the indigenous knowledge in western Uganda.
Experts feel that treating erectile dysfunction on your own, without consulting a doctor, is unsafe. "If you have ED, the first thing you need is a diagnosis," says impotence expert Steven Lamm, MD, a New York City internist and the author of The Hardness Factor (Harper Collins) and other books on male sexual health. He says men with severe erectile dysfunction probably need one of the prescription ED drugs, which include Levitra (vardenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) as well as Viagra. But, he says, mild ED -- including the feeling that "you're not as hard as you could be" -- often responds to natural remedies.
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longiflora) (Figure 7): this native plant found through SE Asia is used as an Aphrodisiac since 1996 (5). It has to be used regularly and works by enhancing the testosterone and cGMP production. Benefits are felt gradually over a period of time, mainly because it enhances the natural biological synthesis of testosterone. When the level is increased, health and vitality are restored. In studies on Mice, Tongkat Ali increases the number of times and duration of sexual performance of the animals under study (8) with testosterone levels increasing up to 440% in some animals. In a recent study on humans, 62% of subjects showed an increase of the free testosterone index indicating it’s biostimulatory effect on steroidogenesis. It has also been shown to increase sperm concentration and motility and increases energy in the individual by enhancing ATP production by 60% thru oxidative phosphorylation.
C borivilianum (family Liliaceae) is native to India. Analysis of C borivilianum root revealed a composition of 12% to 17% saponins, 1.9% to 3.5% stigmasterol, 0.79% arabinose, 3.8% galactose, 0.73% glucose and 0.78% rhamnose . For dried root powder, the recommended dose is 5 g and the extract dose is 500 mg. It is used as an aphrodisiac and to cure ED, improve semen quality and volume. It eliminates premature ejaculation, improves general well-being and vitality, and increases stamina and libido. Visavadiya and Narasimhacharya  have demonstrated that administration of C borivilianum (0.75 g and 1.5 g root powder per rat per day for four weeks) to hypercholesteremic rats significantly increased highdensity lipoprotein cholesterol levels and decreased plasma and hepatic lipid profiles. Furthermore, the treatments also resulted in increased excretion of fecal cholesterol, sterols and bile and increased superoxide dismutase levels. Kenjale et al  evaluated the aphrodisiac and spermatogenic potential of the aqueous extract of dried roots of C borivilianum in rats. C borivilianum was given orally at doses of 125 mg/kg/day and 250 mg/kg/day. Viagra 4 mg/kg/day (sildenafil citrate) was administered as a control. Sexual behaviour was monitored 3 h later using a receptive female. Their sexual behaviour was monitored on days 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28 of treatment by pairing with proestrous female rats. For sperm count, the treatment was continued further in all groups except for the Viagra group for 60 days. At 125 mg/kg, C borivilianum had marked aphrodisiac action, as demonstrated by increased libido, sexual vigour and sexual arousal in the rats. Similarly, at the higher dose (250 mg/kg), all the parameters of sexual behaviour were enhanced, but showed saturation effect after 14 days. On day 60, the sperm count increased significantly in both the C borivilianum-treated groups (125 mg/kg/day and 250 mg/kg/day) in a dose-dependent manner. The administration of C borivilianum extract has been found to be useful for the treatment of premature ejaculation and oligospermia . Supplementation with C borivilianum root 250 mg/kg/day and 500 mg/kg/day to streptozoticin-induced diabetic male rats for 28 consecutive days improved sperm morphology, and reduced oxidative stress and formation of free radicals . In case of streptozotocin- and alloxan-induced hyperglycemia, the aqueus extracts from C borivilianum resulted in improved sexual performance compared with diabetic control [34,35].
Extracts from medicinal plants have been used for considerable period of time in many parts of the world, particularly in Southwest Asia, to treat ED . The current review focuses on four botanical medicinal plants, the roots of which are used in enhancing sexual performance and in the treatment of ED: Eurycoma longifolia Jack (tongkat ali); Chlorophytum borivilianum (safed musli); Withania somnifera (ashwagandha); and Pausinystalia johimbe (yohimbine, formerly known as Corynanthe johimbe).
Ginkgo biloba. Known primarily as a treatment for cognitive decline, ginkgo has also been used to treat erectile dysfunction -- especially cases caused by the use of certain antidepressant medications. But the evidence isn't very convincing. One 1998 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found that it did work. But a more rigorous study, published in Human Pharmacology in 2002, failed to replicate this finding. "Ginkgo has come out of fashion in the past few years," says Ronald Tamler, MD, assistant professor of medicine and codirector of the men's health program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "That's because it doesn't do much. I can say that in my practice, I have not seen ginkgo work -- ever."
Muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides): although used in Asia, this potency wood is actually the best known Amazonian folk medicine which increases libido and penile hardness. It acts as a nerve stimulant to heighten receptiveness to sexual stimuli as well as physical sensation of sex (9). Rich in sterols e.g., sitosterol, campesterol and lupol it activates the body’s receptors for hormones like testosterone to heighten libido and enhance performance (5). Also present are volatile oils like champor which helps restore sex drive and inner depth of libido and mental ability to be aroused.
In Uganda gender specific malfunctions or complications or diseases and conditions in reproductive health care are not given the due regard and the suffering persons tend to shy away. Sexual impotence and ED in men is considered a secret affair and the suffering persons keep quite or seek medical help in privacy. The psychologically affected men will try other women to test the viability of their manhood. The same is true, women with spouses with such erectile problems may be tempted to go outside their marriage vows to satisfy their sexual needs. This can also lead to HIV/AIDS exposure and result in broken homes and marriages12. The consequential outcomes of promiscuity, low self-esteem, polygamy, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS are more detrimental to the individuals and society.
Ginseng, specifically “red ginseng,” is known as the “herbal Viagra” that helps puts to rest men’s bedroom woes. Red ginseng is when the root has been steamed and then dried. The ginseng root is the part of the plant that is mostly used as a natural remedy when in its supplement form. However, the plant must be grown for a minimum of five years before it can be used. In a 2008 review, seven studies on red ginseng and ED, ranging in dosages from 600 to 1,000 milligrams three times a day, were found to provide evidence for the effectiveness of the herb in ED treatment.
Ginseng (Figures 4,,55): this is an adaptogenic herb touted to have boosted the potency of Ottoman sultans. It increases the body’s ability to handle environmental stresses and combat biochemical imbalances. It energizes when one is fatigue and calms when overanxious. It also increases sex related hormones like testosterone and enhances sexual responses in men and women. It thus acts as a tonic, stimulant and aphrodisiac (4,5).
Tribulus Terrestris is the fruit of the Zygophyllaceae plant and it grows primarily in North China. It is a well-known aphrodisiac with records that trace back to ancient times. There are plenty of animal experiments that verify the effectiveness of Tribulus for improving erectile function. These effects are mostly due to its androgen enhancing ability, namely increasing testosterone levels. Though testosterone doesn’t directly cause an erection, it does play a role. Erection is made possible by many factors, but mostly it's through receptors on cells lining our arteries that stimulate a chain reaction that relaxes the blood vessels that go to the penis, allowing blood flow to get in. Low testosterone is often associated with overall poor metabolic and cardiovascular health. When the test is low, estrogen is usually high, leading to oxidative stress and calcification of the arteries, including the penis, restricting blood flow to the penis. So, improving testosterone levels, and improving overall metabolic function, while reducing oxidative stress is a good plan for improving overall sexual function and erection.