Safe Alternatives to Viagra

Safe Alternatives to Viagra

When you're having trouble popping up, it may seem tempting to pop a pill. Viagra is often touted as the wonder drug for male impotence—however, it can have debilitating side effects. Learn how to treat erectile dysfunction—a common issue among Canadian men—naturally and effectively, with these homoeopathic treatments.

Many Canadians think they’ve hit the jackpot with Viagra. But before men roll the dice on this popularized pill, there are scores of natural alternatives to investigate.

For example, up to 1.5 million Canadian men experience impotence, but only about 70 percent of cases are related to illness; many are linked to psychological factors such as stress or anxiety. Drugs do nothing to resolve factors such as poor diet, stress, fatigue or deeper psychological issues such as sexual shyness, performance anxiety and childhood abuse.

A trained practitioner should evaluate all cases of sexual dysfunction. Every urologist knows that impotence is largely due to blocked blood flow. It should come as no surprise, then, that the same high-fat, high-cholesterol foods that clog the heart arteries and contribute to cardiovascular disease also clog arteries leading to the penis.

Unblock Your Arteries

The Boston University School of Medicine conducted a male aging study on 1,290 men aged 40 to 70. Those treated for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes were up to four times more likely to develop impotence than men without these conditions. This means trade meat and dairy products the top sources of saturated fat in the Canadian diet for plant-based fare that’s light on the saturated fat and cholesterol. Emphasize produce and whole grains that help keep arteries free of the plaque that chokes blood flow to the heart and to the penis.

Avoid cigarettes and cigars, which increase plaque formation and damage arteries. Limit caffeine, which constricts blood vessels, and alcohol, which inhibits testosterone production.

As Dr. Dean Ornish, author of Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease (Ivy Books, 1996), has shown in his landmark study, a vegetarian diet, smoke-free environment and regular physical activity can open arteries up again. It works for the heart in 82 per cent of patients, and experts say that we have every reason to believe that it works elsewhere in the body, too.

Circulation Stimulators

Natural food stores are full of herbs and supplements that can improve circulation and reverse (and prevent) impotence. Natural remedies tend to be gentler on the body, so they work a little slower than any “magic bullet.” But within a few weeks or months, you should notice the difference.

Garlic, a natural antibiotic, was a time-honoured remedy for sexual dysfunction in ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Japanese and Chinese cultures. Garlic works by increasing blood flow and hormone production. Five cloves, or 10 deodorized capsules daily, should pay dividends in about a month.

Ginkgo biloba, the popular memory enhancer, also gets the blood flowing to all the right spots. A 1989 study published in the Journal of Urology found that ginkgo produced better results than the anti-impotence drug papaverine hydrochloride. After just six months taking ginkgo, half the men studied regained their ability to achieve erection. Try 500 milligrams three times daily.

Vitamin E, a vasodilator that keeps blood platelets flowing smoothly, is another standout for circulation-related difficulties. The recommended dose is 400 international units (IU) daily, but many nutritionists are beginning to lean toward two or three times that amount.

Hormone Helpers

Some supplements stimulate production of the male sex hormone testosterone, responsible for maintaining potency, fertility and desire. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are the basic building blocks for testosterone, but men are often deficient in these fats because they don’t eat enough of the foods that contain them. Boost omega-3 intake by adding one to three teaspoons (five to 15 millilitres) of flaxseed oil or salmon oil to your meals daily, or by eating fatty fish three times a week.

Better known as wild oats (as in the kind you sow), the herb Avena sativa also increases testosterone levels, according to studies done at the Institute for Sexual Studies in San Francisco. Take 500 mg daily.

Adaptogenic herbs substances that normalize body systems and allow the body to heal itself are frequently called upon to treat impotence. Asian ginseng (its name means “man root”) is particularly praised as a health tonic and sexual booster for men over 35. Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a system energizer, so to avoid going into hyper-drive (side-effects include sweating and irritability) take only one gram daily.

Maca andina (Spanish for “Andean mace”) is another adaptogenic herb that’s used to treat a wide variety of hormonal imbalances and is known to increase fertility. Some claim it increases sexual vigour. Maca andina comes in capsules or dried powder. The typical daily dosage is 4,000 mg. It’s very non-toxic; Peruvians eat it as a food, like a big bowl of pudding.

Yohimbe, from the bark of the African tree Pausinystalia johimbe, is the best-known anti-impotence herb and the only herbal sex aid to garner a listing in the famed Physicians’ Desk Reference. It’s believed to work by stimulating the nerves in the spine that control erection. But even in the recommended daily dose of 250 mg, it can produce nausea, headaches, sweating, agitation, high blood pressure and panic attacks. Anyone with hypertension or heart disease should steer clear of this potent herb. Others should try a smaller amount first time out and use with caution.

Homeopathic Helpers

This centuries-old tradition involves using minute doses of a substance that provokes certain symptoms in one who is healthy to heal those same symptoms in one who is ill. This doctrine takes a bigger-picture approach to sexual dysfunction. Homeopathy deals with the psychological barriers we develop.

Chronic impotence is best treated by a professional homeopath who will tailor therapy based on a patient’s unique set of symptoms. But short-term impotence, possibly resulting from stress or emotional difficulties, may be resolved with over-the-counter homeopathic medicines.

Some 50 homeopathic alternatives to Viagra exist, but their effectiveness varies from patient to patient. However, homeopathic practitioners have reported impressive results from Lycopodium, the spores of a club moss. Recent toxicological studies suggest Lycopodium offers a psychological remedy to impotency.

The homeopathic medicines China, Nux vomica, Conium, Selenium, Argentum nitrium and Baryta carb may also prove beneficial. Practitioners generally recommend using either the 6X or 6C strength three times a day for a week, or 30X or 30C twice a day for two days.

Feeling Stressed?

Very often work-related or emotional stress can prevent you from rising to the occasion. Men under severe stress get hit with a double whammy: Not only does stress reduce testosterone levels in the body, it prompts the release of a form of adrenaline that makes it impossible to maintain an erection.

Deep breathing and relaxation exercises are terrific stress busters (numerous articles and how-to tapes can show you what to do). Exercising, finding a hobby or even getting a pet can also help reduce stress levels.

Mechanical difficulties don’t have to sideline your love life. But think carefully about how you tune up your equipment. Viagra may seem like a wonderful aid to jumpstart a stalled sex life, but it’s far safer and more effective to take a good look under the hood. You don’t just run a car into the ground.

Viagra Side-Effects

Ten million men have used Viagra, according to its manufacturer, Pfizer. The company estimates that half of American men aged 40 to 70 suffer from erectile dysfunction. Its Web site, pfizer.com lists these Viagra side-effects:

  • headache
  • facial flushing
  • upset stomach
  • bluish vision
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light.

Other reported side-effects include:
• allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of the lips, tongue or face, or hives)

  • swelling of ankles or legs
  • shortness of breath
  • prolonged (lasting longer than four hours) or painful erection
  • dizziness, nausea or chest pains
  • nasal congestion
  • diarrhea
  • itching or rash.

Moreover, taking Viagra along with nitrate drugs (such as for chest pains, or angina), says Pfizer, “can cause your blood pressure to drop to an unsafe or life-threatening level.”

What’s not mentioned is that, as wholistic physician Dr. Zoltan Rona points out, in the first year of widespread Viagra use in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that the drug was associated with 130 deaths. “From…late March through mid-November 1998, during which more than six million outpatient prescriptions (representing about 50 million tablets) were dispensed, the FDA received reports of 130 US patients who died after having been prescribed this drug…”

For more information, read Boosting Male Libido Naturally, by Zoltan Rona, MD (alive Natural Health Guide #15), available at your health food store or from alive Books: 1-800-663-6513.

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