An overview of erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is a condition that can be treated. Alongside therapy and traditional medication, there are other alternatives and complementary medical therapies for erectile dysfunction. However, there is not much evidence to support the use of most complementary and alternative medicine therapies for erectile dysfunction. As a matter of fact, some of these therapies may pose a great danger to one’s health. It is advisable that you consult your physician before you adopt any alternative therapies or supplements for your ED. Many supplements have dangerous interactions with some medications. Take note that even natural or herbal remedies are not completely safe.
What are the alternative therapies for erectile dysfunction?
There are many supplements and herbs that are used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in men. However, studies evaluating the effects of these treatments have generally been of low quality. Hence, there is very limited evidence for safety and effectiveness of these therapies. A number of these therapies are associated with many risks, and there are chances that more risks are yet to be discovered. Users of CAM therapies are advised to do so with caution.
Panax ginseng (Korean red ginseng)
Some studies have shown that ginseng may help men suffering from erectile dysfunction. Nevertheless, ginseng has the potential to drastically reduce blood sugar levels, and is contraindicated for diabetics. It also has bad interactions with antidepressants.
This is a naturally-occurring amino acid that is present in certain foods. It plays an important role in the synthesis of nitrous oxide.
Synthesis of nitric oxide is important for erectile function. Nitric oxide enhances penile erection by boosting the flow of blood to the penis via vessel and muscle relaxation. Medications such as Viagra work by altering the levels of nitric oxide.
There is mixed evidence that supplements of L-arginine may help with erectile dysfunction. Some studies have obtained positive results while others have not.
Studies have shown that the bark of the yohimbe tree does help with erectile dysfunction. The bark has a phytochemical known as yohimbine. It is used locally in Africa as an aphrodisiac. Research on the pharmaceutical variant of yohimbine known as yohimbine hydrochloride is ongoing to determine its effect on erectile dysfunction. However, it is associated with various side effects such as tremors, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
The herb Ginkgo has been used to treat various ailments for thousands of years. Ginkgo improves blood flow to the penis. Also, studies have suggested that ginkgo can increase the risk of bleeding. This makes it very dangerous for people who have been using blood thinners. However, a 2011 study has not found any evidence of increased bleeding due to usage of ginkgo.
This hormone is produced naturally by the human body. It helps in the buildup of testosterone. According to a study published in the Journal Urology, this supplement would be of great benefit to men whose erectile dysfunction is linked to low testosterone. However, no definitive evidence has been attached to this claim. It is understood that DHEA is associated with a number of side effects, including acne and damage to the liver. Prolonged use of DHEA also results in hormonal imbalances.
Vitamin E and Folic Acid
There is some evidence suggesting that vitamin E and folic acid can help men with erectile dysfunction. According to the study, this is only evident in men who have been taking sildenafil, known commonly as Viagra. These vitamins are not harmful when taken in small doses.
Zinc may cause an improvement in erectile dysfunction in men who are deficient in zinc. However, when taken in excess, it can compromise the immune system.
Acupuncture is credited to the Chinese. It is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves placing fine, sterile needles at appropriate points in the body. The aim of this is to simulate the pressure points. It is believed by the practitioners that this has the potential to correct energy (Chi) imbalances and effectively treat illness. Acupuncture is safe.
Not much research has been done to show that acupuncture can treat erectile dysfunction. The quality of these researches is low, and very few scientific evidence exists to support the effectiveness of acupuncture for erectile dysfunction.
So many OTC herbal supplements claim to treat ED effectively. Quite surprisingly, the Mayo Clinic warns against the use of products labeled herbal Viagra. According to the study, these products have the potential to increase blood flow and drastically reduce the blood pressure. The risks may be higher in men making use of nitrates. Also, products labelled Herbal Viagra may contain some toxic components that are not indicated on the label.