Comedian George Burns said something that rings true…
Unfortunately, this is true for many people that aren’t yet 90. Whether you call it impotence or erectile dysfunction it is a problem for most men at some point in their life.
Is there something you can do about it?
If you need to turn your rope into a hard piece of wood there are a few things you can do.
And you can get a number of herbs that can help in this regard. As discussed with Dr. William Wong, there appears to be four main factors in turning rope to wood. And I’ve added an additional fifth one to that discussion.
Table of Contents
1 – Testosterone
Libido is one of the many functions of testosterone. There’s a little bit of a trick that nature seems to play on us. Often times you might not have enough T to “get it up” though the desire may still be there.
Although testosterone has a natural decline with age, there are lots of things that you can do to restore it towards optimal and youthful levels. These include steps like diet, working out, sleep, having sex and much more. Be sure to check out this article on Men’s Hormone Health for more details, including the related hormones, enzymes and other factors at play.
Our two most popular herbs in this regard are pine pollen and tongkat ali. Though they work through different mechanisms both help to give you better testosterone levels and help in sexual function in some other ways as well.
It was with pine pollen that we first noticed the morning wood effect. And if it’s happening more and better then, that means it’s likely to work better at other times as well.
2 – Dopamine
Another aspect of libido appears to be the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine has a lot to do with desire, sexual and otherwise.
Dr. William Wong told an amazing story of Parkinson’s patients, at 60 and 70 years old, having sex like rabbits. This was because Parkinson’s has been treated with a drug called levodopa to restore dopamine levels.
The good news is there is a natural herb for this too. Mucuna is rich in L-dopa, the precursor to dopamine. For this reason it appears to be great for getting your dopamine levels functioning better (and in a moment you’ll find out a couple reasons they can be disturbed from modern day living).
Whether it is through this dopamine-precursor or through another mechanism, Mucuna pruriens has been shown to support both testosterone and growth hormone levels. This is a very exciting herb.
Many natural foods can also support dopamine. Precursors to L-dopa include the amino acids L-tyrosine and L-phenylalanine. So a good supply of these, which you can get from many foods, also will help support dopamine.
L-Phenylalanine → L-Tyrosine → L-DOPA → Dopamine
So why might your dopamine be disturbed? Dopamine is basically triggered to help you have a drive towards something. Once you get that something dopamine is released. From hearing the ‘ding’ on your phone with social media, or with specially designed games meant to trigger addiction, this once helpful neurotransmitter can be hijacked to not work correctly.
One of the worst pieces of this problem in regards to our current issue is what is called Porn-Induced ED. With the simple access to porn of any and every type readily available with a click of a button online you can live out your fantasies even several times a day. And clicking from one video to another just to release a little more dopamine and get more excited further fuels this.
As bigger and bigger surges of dopamine get released in this way your body and brain become resistant to more normal levels.
Eventually you may get to a point where you can’t get it up without that same porn. Even “normal” sex may not be exciting enough. You’ll need to wean yourself off or go cold turkey in order to help get your dopamine around sex back in order.
Lots more could be said on this issue, but I just wanted to introduce it to you, in case it happens to be an issue for you.
3 – Nitric Oxide
So we’ve talked about hormones and neurotransmitters. Next we move onto blood flow for our next to components.
Here’s a quick anatomy lesson. In order for the penis to become erect the spongy tissue in it, called the Corpus Cavernosum, must relax. Yes, that says relax which may seem counter-intuitive at first, as things seem to be anything but relaxed in that moment. This relaxation is triggered by nitric oxide (NO) in the endothelium of the blood vessels, which then allows blood to flow into the penis. Voila, you have an erection.
NO is important in more than just erections too. It acts like a vasodilator and thus plays an important role in exercise as well as general cardiovascular health.
One of the often used ways to support NO production is the amino acid L-arginine. This amino acid is a precursor to NO so many people take 2-10 grams before sex.
Herbs can also support NO. Cistanche is a likely candidate. Although there isn’t too much science to back it up, I’m sure it would be if studied. Historically, its always been used in sexual formulas and is said to direct blood flow to the genital area.
Some other foods and herbs that can support this function are garlic, cayenne, cacao, ginseng, pomegranates, beets, amalaki, green leafy vegetables and horny goat weed (which will be talked about more in the next factor).
4 – PDE5
NO is a gaseous molecule that only has a short half-life. What that means is that it can go away quickly. This may be responsible when you have no problems getting hard, but then going soft.
PDE5 means phosphodiesterase type 5. We might not even know about this enzyme except for an accident with a drug. Sildenafil citrate was being investigated as a heart medication when they noticed a certain side effect. The men had raging bonners! And thus Viagra® was born and changed the face of medicine making large amounts of money.
This drug and many of the others are classed as PDE5 inhibitors. Inhibiting this enzyme is useful as it basically is used in the breakdown of factors, derived from NO, that keep your erection.
The physiological details of how this works with PDE 5 and the NO-cGMP pathway is fairly complex which you can read more about here if you want to: The role of nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction: implications for medical therapy.
Although ED drugs are often thought of as a cure-all, they only work on this one mechanism and thus don’t work for everyone. As a drug, they also come with a list of side effects.
Horny Goat Weed, also know, as Epimedium, in addition to raising NO levels, has an “active” constituent called icariin which also acts as a PDE5 inhibitor.
Other herbs that are thought to be PDE5 inhibitors include Xanthoparmelia Powder. Cuscuta chinensis, and others.
It’s important to note that these natural herbs, unless the “active ingredient” is isolated and used in huge levels, do not have the same effects as drugs do.
Many people seem to expect too much right away, coming from that frame of mind, which should be warned against.
5 – Psychological
In addition to these four physiological reasons for impotence, we also have to talk about the psychological.
For any man that has ever had things not work, perhaps based on one of the above factors, this can then set up a horrible loop where you have anxiety and worry about it not working. This surely then makes it harder for things to work.
There are lots of reasons your thinking can get in the way here that are beyond the scope of this article.
The good news is that supporting physiological function with herbs or other changes can often then help with the psychological too.
And we can’t discount the placebo effect either. If you think something might help, that can do a lot to relieve any mental pressure, and then things DO work better.
There’s also something to be said for the body’s wisdom. If things aren’t working that can indicate too much stress in your life, lack of health in the many ways listed above, as well as relationship issues.
Special Note to Women
These factors matter for you just as much! Testosterone is an important component in libido for women too, although progresterone and estrogen also play their role. Dopamine matters for you too.
And although it isn’t as well known, women have erectile tissue as well. For more detail you can read Women’s Anatomy of Arousal.
Thus NO and PDE5 will matter for you too, so the same practices and herbs can support your sexuality as well. And of course there are some women specific things to do, but that’s a topic for another time.
Putting this into Action
So if you’re suffering from any signs of impotence what should you do?
The best bet is to try to identify the main component behind it. Is it one of the five reasons listed above? Is it a combination of them?
Try tweaking your lifestyle, and take herbs, to support that function. Notice if things get better or not. If they don’t try something else.
Here’s a helpful guide on where you might want to start. Like I said, it could be a combination of several factors.
Testosterone – Are you 50 or older? Do you see other signs of insufficient testosterone like losing strength, depression, fatigue and many more? Do you not wake up with morning wood?
You can also do blood or saliva testing for testosterone, though as mentioned here, it’s very useful to look at other related hormones too.
Dopamine – Be honest here. Are you watching porn regularly? Are you doing anything else that could be over-triggering dopamine, which could get in the way of your desire?
On the flip side, something you do want to see; when it comes time for sex do you get so exciting you’re almost shaking with it?
Nitric Oxide – Are you over 40? Can you not get hard in the first place? Do you not get frequent morning wood? Are you generally out of shape with a poor diet?
PDE5 – Do you get erections but they disappear? Do you have morning wood but it doesn’t last very long after you wake up?
Psychological – Do you worry about having erectile problems before or during sex?
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