Erectile dysfunction, commonly known as impotence, refers to the inability to sustain an erection or perform sexually. It is estimated that as many as 10 to 30 million men in the United States suffer some sort of erectile dysfunction, and more than half of men from 40 to 70 have experienced it at some point.
In most cases, erectile dysfunction is a symptom of a larger underlying illness, such as heart disease or vascular problems. That is why it is important for men suffering from this problem to consult their doctors to rule out serious underlying medical conditions.
After a definitive diagnosis of erectile dysfunction has been made, and underlying medical conditions have been ruled out, there are a number of treatment options available, ranging from pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra and Cialis to mechanical devices and psychological therapies.
Treating Erectile Dysfunction With Nutritional Supplements
L-arginine has shown promise as an erectile dysfunction treatment. L-arginine is an amino acid found naturally in such foods as meats, dairy products, poultry and fish. L-arginine seems to be safe at doses of 2 to 3 grams per day, though mild digestive problems can sometimes occur. Larger doses of L-arginine should be avoided, since it can be harmful to some individuals.
Some recent research seems to suggest that ginkgo may be useful as an erectile dysfunction treatment, due to its ability to stimulate blood flow. Although gingko is generally safe, it is important not to combine gingko with blood thinning medications such as coumadin, heparin or aspirin. That is because gingko also contains blood thinning properties, and for this reason it should also not be combined with natural blood thinners like garlic.
A deficiency of zinc has been known to cause sexual dysfunction, so it is important for sufferers to determine if they are sufficient and use zinc supplements if needed. A typical dose of zinc is 15 to 30 mg per day, taken with a 1 or 2 mg supplement of copper, since excessive zinc can interfere with the absorption of copper.
Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng, even though it is not related to actual ginseng. It has been used traditionally as an aphrodisiac, and it is thought to have some effect on sexual function and sexual desire as well.
The herb known as damiana has also traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac, in this case in Mexico. It is thought to have a mild effect on erectile dysfunction. Damiana is safe at the recommended dosages, but it is important to not exceed the dosage recommended.
Siberian ginseng is also thought to be an aphrodisiac, and it has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Saw palmetto has also traditionally been used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, particularly when mixed with other types of herbs.
The bark of the yohimbe tree native to west Africa has also been used by the native peoples as an aphrodisiac. Yohimbe has been shown to increase the libido and improve erectile dysfunction. It has also been shown to have a positive effect on depression sparked impotence.
Hormone replacement is sometimes used as a cure for impotence, but it should be used only under the direction and supervision of a doctor. Supplementation with testosterone without the supervision of a physician can be very dangerous, and testosterone should only be supplemented in men who have tested low for this hormone.