Impotence is defined as the inability of males to achieve erection, ejaculation, or both. Also known as erectile dysfunction (ED), this common disorder affects about 5% of men at the age of 40 and between 15 and 25% of men at the age of 65. It was once thought that most cases of ED were psychologically based. However, most experts now believe that ED is often a component of an underlying disorder, such as diabetes and other endrocrine system imbalances, kidney disease, and heart disease. Many vitamins, minerals and herbs have been researched for possible benefits in ED; however, the following have shown the most effective.
Muira puma: Also known as potency wood, this herb native to Brazil has long been used as an aphrodisiac and nerve stimulant. In a 1990 study at the Institute of Sexology in Paris, France, a leading researcher on sexual function found muira puma safe and beneficial for improving both sexual desire and inability to attain or maintain an erection. In just two weeks of treatment on 262 patients, 62% reported claimed the herb had a “dynamic” effect on libido and 51% of ED patients reported benefits. Research suggests muira puma works on both psychological and physical aspects of sexual function.
Ginkgo biloba: Extremely popular for its memory-enhancing properties, gingko is also beneficial for ED due to poor blood flow, according to a number of studies. In one such study, 50% of men taking 60 mg per day of ginkgo regained potency after six months of therapy, even though they had not reacted to penile injections (papaverine). In another, 76% of men taking 200 mg per day of ginkgo reported a positive effect on sexual dysfunction due to medication side effects.
Maca: While no research shows a direct effect on ED as such, maca is often called “nature’s viagra” for its potent effect on sexual desire. In a recent study from Lima, Peru, men aged 21 to 56 years received maca in a dose of 1,500 mg, 3,000 mg or placebo. An improvement in sexual desire was observed with maca at 8 weeks of treatment. Other studies report increases in seminal volume and sperm motility with maca.
L-arginine will help ED sufferers
When L-arginine hits the shelves in the next few months due to new Health Canada regulations, many men with ED will be thankful. This amino acid is necessary for the dilation of blood vessels that creates a normal erection. In a preliminary trial, 15 men with ED were given L-arginine for two weeks. Six of the men were helped, though none improved on placebo. In a larger trial, L-arginine was found effective at improving ED in men with abnormal nitric oxide (NO) metabolism. NO is often depleted by stress.
Sources: Andrologia. 2002 Dec; 34(6): 367-72; Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (2nd Ed) by M Murray and J Pizzorno, Prima:1998; J Sex Marital Ther 1998;24:139–43.