If you’ve been to the health food store lately, you’ve seen shelves lined with vitamins and “organic” supplements, each claiming to boost immunity, revitalize organ function, or “promote health.” And it’s working. Supplements are currently a $30 billion industry in the US, with more than 90,000 products on the market, and vitamin use is on the rise. In fact, a recent survey in Journal of American Medicine Association showed that “52% of US adults reported use of at least 1 supplement product.”
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).
Even in the absence of deficiency, L-carnitine supplementation has shown promise for improving erectile function in men. It is available commercially in tablet, capsule and liquid capsule form. Recommended dosage is in the range of 500 – 2000 mg of propionyl L-Carnitine once a day which is often used in combination with a 50 mg dose of Viagra which is given twice a week.
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 regards to Ashwagandha helping men get it up, the limited research has focused on psychogenic erectile dysfunction. Psychogenic ED is caused by psychological causes, rather than biological symptoms. These factors could be related to stress, anxiety, and pressure surrounding sex. Even though scientists have found that psychogenic ED is legitimate in some circumstances, there is a lack of research proving that “Indian ginseng” is a solution. One study published in the International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda found that in fact, Ashwagandha didn’t have any impact on patients suffering from psychogenic ED.
From the bark of an evergreen tree in West Africa, Yohimbine has been used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction for the last 70 years. Like many over-the-counter and prescription erectile dysfunction medications, Yohimbine helps to increase the potentially stalled blood flow in the penis, increases overall sexual desire, and helps boost adrenaline. Yohimbine has also been known to help men gain, prolong, and maintain erections.
The Science: Male rats with damaged penile nerves had better erectile responses after they were given large doses of purified icariin, but as of yet no one has done the experiments to see whether the compound works in humans. Still, as far as the herb goes, it doesn’t really matter: horny goat weed doesn’t contain enough icariin to get even the smallest rise out of a rat.
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