Impotence, also referred to as erectile dysfunction, is a man’s inability to attain or sus- tain an erection sufﬁcient for normal, satisfying sexual intercourse. It was once thought that almost all impotence was caused by psychological factors, but we now know that as many as 85 percent of cases are brought on by physiological disturbances. No mat- ter what the cause, it helps most men to realize that they are not alone. Nearly every
man experiences impotence at some point, and almost 20 million have chronic or recurring problems.
Many physiological factors may contribute to impotence, but the most frequent are hormonal changes, medications, diet, and chronic illness. Low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, are a critical link to male impotence. The most common cause of impotence is atherosclerosis, which is hardening of the arteries with plaque build up. This causes a problem with blood ﬂow to the penis. See the Cardiovascular Dis- ease section for a comprehensive program to reverse this vascular problem. Also, dila- tion of the arteries and blood ﬂow to the genital area are dependent on a chemical produced in the body known as nitric oxide.
In addition, many prescription drugs can cause reduced blood ﬂow to the genitals or can interfere with brain activity, hormones, or nerve transmission. If you suffer from impotence and are on a prescription medication, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to ﬁnd alternatives for you.
Diet is another common cause. Just as a high-fat, low-ﬁber routine can inhibit blood ﬂow to the heart, it can also block the arteries that lead to the penis. Men with high blood pressure or arteriosclerosis may have difﬁculty maintaining erections. Other chronic illnesses, especially diabetes, can take a toll as well.
It is important to note here that aging is not a cause of impotence. While it’s true that impotence affects older people more frequently than it does the rest of the population, this situation can be attributed to the increased incidence of disease and medication in the elderly. And disease itself is not an inevitable part of aging; see Aging, for information about staying healthy throughout the full span of your life. If you are healthy and content, you can be sexually vigorous well into your eighties and beyond.
If you are not chronically impotent—that is, if you are impotent only in certain sit- uations or can achieve an erection on your own or in your sleep, then it’s likely that psychological factors are causing or contributing to your problem. Overwork and fatigue have reached epidemic levels in our society, and many men—especially those who have children—simply feel too tired to enjoy sex. Depression, anxiety, stress, fear of failure, and fear of pregnancy are other frequent causes.
The following drugs may cause impotence; popular brand names for those drugs are also given, where applicable.
Popular Brand Names
Drug (where applicable)
Antidepressants and tranquilizers
Ativan, Paxil, Prozac, Valium, Xanax Antihistamines
Most cold, ﬂu, and allergy medicines Antihypertensives
Cardizem, Inderal, Procardia
Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac
Many cases of impotence can be successfully treated with an improvement in lifestyle and dietary habits, as well as with nutritional supplements, but anyone with a chronic problem should see a doctor ﬁrst to rule out underlying disorders.
• Inability to achieve or maintain an erection
• Low levels of DHEA and testosterone
• Prescription medications
• Street drugs
• A diet that’s high in fat and low in ﬁber
• Underlying illness (most often, arteriosclerosis, high bloodpressure, and diabetes)
• Hormonal imbalance
• Stress or anxiety
• Other psychological factors (fear of pregnancy, fear of failure, lack of desire)
• Heavy metal poisoning
If an underlying condition or a medication is causing impotence, check with a doc- tor before undertaking any changes in your diet, medication, or habits. If you have cardiovascular disease or diabetes, see the appropriate section in this book for further recommendations.
Eat a healthful diet that’s high in ﬁber and nutrients. Good sources of ﬁber include fresh raw vegetables, apples, oats, and whole grains.
Vitamin E dilates blood vessels and improves blood ﬂow. Foods that are high in this nutrient include wheat germ, soy products, leafy green vegetables, and whole grain cereals.
Enjoy soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and sunﬂower seeds as snacks or in salads. They’re excellent sources of zinc, which aids the prostate and improves testosterone levels.
Watercress leaves, sesame seeds, and bee pollen are libido enhancers. Add some to your meals every day.
Food to Avoid
Avoid foods that are high in saturated, hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated fats, including red meat, butter, margarine, shortening, and reﬁned vegetable oils. A high- fat diet causes circulatory problems and blocks the ﬂow of blood to the genitals.
Eliminate junk and processed foods from your diet. Not only are they generally fatty and lacking in nutrition, they contain chemicals that might affect sexual performance.
Don’t eat large meals just before sex. Your body will be too focused on digestion to concentrate on desire.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for impotence: Immune system imbalance or disease—blood
Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially magnesium, B12, iron, and
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis
Anemia—blood test (CBC, iron, ferritin, % saturation)
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
Moderate your intake of caffeine and alcohol. While a cup of coffee or a glass of wine should not pose a problem for most people, overindulgence can lead to tempo- rary or chronic impotence.
A three-day juice fast will help clear your body of toxins and generally improve your circulation.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Impotence
Super Prescription #1 L-arginine
Take 1,000 mg three times daily on an empty stomach. This amino acid leads to blood vessel dilation and improved blood ﬂow, which are required for an erection.
Super Prescription #2 Cordyceps sinensis
Take 800 mg twice daily of Cs-4 mycelium extract. Cordyceps has historically been used to treat low libido and impotence in men, and Chinese studies verify this effect.
Super Prescription #3 Panax ginseng
Take 100 mg two to three times daily of a product standardized to between 4 and
7 percent ginsenosides. This herb is revered in China for its ability to improve libido and sexual function for men.
Super Prescription #4 Ginkgo biloba
Take 120 mg twice daily of a standardized product containing 24 percent ﬂavone glycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones. Ginkgo improves blood ﬂow, and stud- ies show it to be effective for erectile dysfunction.
Super Prescription #5 DHEA
If lab testing shows that your levels are low, take 25 to 50 mg daily under the super- vision of a doctor. Studies show that some men who are low in this hormone improve their erectile function with supplementation. DHEA is also a precursor hormone to testosterone.
A double-blind, randomized,placebo-controlled study involving forty men who were con- ﬁrmed to have low DHEA levels were given either 50 mg of DHEA or a placebo for six months. Men taking DHEA had a signiﬁcant improve- ment in libido and erectile function.
double-blind trial involving
Panax ginseng for three months found that it signiﬁcantly improved libido,
the ability to main- tain an erection,
and patient satisfac- tion with sex.
Several studies have shown that gingko biloba extract improves erectile dysfunction in men. A study of men with impo- tence as the result of pharmaceutical medications (such as antidepressants) found that 200 mg of ginkgo biloba extract improved sexual function in 76 percent of the men.
Super Prescription #6 Potency wood (Muira puama)
Take 500 mg three times daily. Studies have shown this herb from South America to improve sexual desire and impotency.
Super Prescription #7 Oatstraw (Avena sativa)
Take 300 mg three times daily. Oatstraw relaxes the nervous system and is thought to increase libido.
Niacin (vitamin B3) is a vasodilator and improves blood ﬂow. Take 250 mg three times daily.
Zinc is a mineral that’s required in the synthesis of testosterone. Take 30 mg twice daily, along with 3 to 5 mg of copper.
Tribulus terresteris (“Puncture Vine”) is a folk remedy for improving libido and erectile function. Take 500 mg three times daily.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a traditional remedy for impotence that improves blood ﬂow to the genitals. Take 400 to 800 mg or 2 to 3 cc of the tincture three times daily.
Ashwagandha (Withania somniferum) is an ancient Ayurvedic medicine used to treat stress and impotence. Take 1,000 mg three times daily.
Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) increases blood flow to erectile tissue and increases libido. Take a product standardized to yohimbine hydrochloride at a dosage of 10 mg three times daily. It should be used under the supervision of a doctor and should be avoided by people with high blood pressure, any cardiovascular condition, or kidney disease; by pregnant women; or by individuals being treated for a psycho- logical disorder.
Agnus Castus is a remedy for men who were involved in frequent sexual activity for many years. There may be a cold sensation in the genitals. Men requiring this rem- edy are often anxious about their health and may have problems with memory and concentration.
Caladium is a remedy for men who have an interest in sexual relations, but the gen- itals are completely limp. There may be frequent wet dreams without an erection. Men who require this remedy often crave tobacco.
Lycopodium (Lycopodium clavatum) is for men who have erection problems as a result of worry and low self-conﬁdence. Digestive problems, such as gas and bloat- ing, are common, and symptoms are worse in the late afternoon.
Selenium Metallicum is a remedy for men who have decreased sexual ability, espe- cially after a fever or an exhausting illness. They feel weak and exhausted, but inter- est is usually still present. There may be unusual hair loss.
Staphysagria is for mild-mannered, shy men with deep emotions, such as sup- pressed anger. Their problems with impotence often begin after an embarrassing event.
• To relieve stress and encourage calm, deep breathing, work Lung 1.
• Bladder Points 23 and 47—together they are known as the Sea of Vitality will improve sexual potency and reduce fatigue.
Work the areas that correspond to the testes, the prostate, the pituitary and adre- nal glands, and the solar plexus.
Constitutional hydrotherapy can be used to improve circulation. See pages 676–677 for directions.
Some men ﬁnd that hot baths and saunas lower their sex drive. Try taking warm—
not hot—showers and baths. Stay away from saunas to see if your condition improves.
Several oils ease stress while stimulating sexual desire. Among the best are patchouli, ylang ylang, sandalwood, and jasmine. Try a few drops in a bath or add them to a car- rier oil, and use this in a sensual massage.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Regular meditation can ﬁt nicely into the schedule of almost anyone, including peo- ple who are overworked. Try to set aside twenty minutes every night after work, to detach yourself from the worries of the day.
Bach Flower Remedies
Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
If you lack sexual conﬁdence and feel inadequate, Larch will help you feel more secure.
Crab Apple is for people who feel inhibited because they’ve been taught that sex is dirty. This remedy will encourage a healthy attitude toward sexuality.
Pine will help people who feel that sex is shameful, sinful, or morally wrong. Peo- ple who also worry that it is physically dirty should combine Pine with Crab Apple.
If you are utterly exhausted and drained, Olive will have a strengthening effect.
• Regular exercise stimulates blood ﬂow, reduces stress, and helps unclog arteries. Moderate daily exercise has been strongly linked to better sexual performance.
• Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke. Nicotine is a well- known cause of impotence.