Nearly 40% of men suffer from erectile dysfunction–the inability to develop or maintain an erection–at some point in their lives. Experts estimate nearly 18 million men in America suffer from the condition.
Conventional treatments include drugs, drastic surgeries and external mechanical methods, which typically mask the root of the problem or provide only temporary relief.
Most people get the gist of erectile dysfunction. But understanding exactly what’s going on to cause the condition can help you determine the best route for treatment… and decide whether natural remedies may be safer, cheaper and more effective than traditional drugs or surgery.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
At the basic level, an erection is caused when nerve impulses from the brain and genital area signal blood vessels in the penis to relax, allowing blood to engorge the area and maintain an erection.
Dysfunction occurs when the corpora cavernosa–the two large chambers in the penis–fail to relax and allow blood to flow in. ED is characterized by erections too soft for sex, inability to maintain an erection or achieve one at all 75% of the time.
Because there are so many systems involved, anything that interferes with electrical nerve impulses or blood flow can cause impotence.
The most likely causes include:
- Aging. The most significant cause of ED is aging. Even though men as young as 20 can experience ED, it’s four times more common in men in their 60s than men in their 40s. According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, 40% of men in their 40s experience some form of ED. The rate rises 5% to 15% as they age… with nearly 70% of 70-year-old men experiencing it.
- Cardiovascular issues. Men with heart disease or problems may have trouble with erections due to insufficient blood flow. Smoking is also a common cause of ED because it causes arteries to narrow, which prevents enough blood from reaching the penis for an erection. Because of the cardiovascular elements required to achieve erection, ED can be an early warning sign of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. German researchers found in 2010 that impotent men are twice as likely to have a heart attack and 1.9 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
- Diabetes. Putting you at risk of neuropathy, or damage to the nerves, diabetes can affect the penis’ sensation and ability to move or function. Anywhere from 50% to 75% of diabetic men experience poor erectile function. Research shows a simple blood sugar (called O-GlcNAc, present in hyperglycemia) inhibits an important enzyme (eNOS) responsible for achieving erection in diabetic men.
- Drug side effects. Statin drugs lower cholesterol, the building block of the hormone testosterone, and can inadvertently cause low testosterone. High blood pressure medication lowers overall blood pressure, making erections difficult. Some of these increase the excretion of zinc, also needed to make testosterone. In an observational study published in the Journal of Urology, men who took NSAIDs like ibuprofen three times daily for three months were 2.4 times more likely to experience poor erectile function.
- Psychological reasons. Stress and mental exhaustion also play a role in erectile difficulties. Men may suffer from self-esteem issues when facing difficulties with sexual performance. Fear, anxiety or relationship difficulties may also play a role in ED. The ability to develop an erection while sleeping indicates a man’s impotence may be psychological.
Other possible causes of erectile dysfunction include sedentary lifestyle, excessive bicycling that causes compression, hormonal insufficiency, kidney failure, mental disorder, and multiple sclerosis.
What Alternative Medicine Has to Say About ED
Current treatments for erectile dysfunction include multiple prescription drugs, including pills, topical creams and injections. Surgery to insert a penile prosthesis and mechanical “pump” devices are also available.
However, for many men, simply quitting a smoking habit, following a clean diet, drinking enough water and exercising regularly may prevent or reduce the occurrence of dysfunction.
Dr. Elizabeth Selvin, a Johns Hopkins University researcher, found a correlation between impotence and low physical activity in a 2007 study. “The associations between erectile dysfunction and diabetes and other known cardiovascular risk factors should serve as powerful motivators [to change],” she said.
Nutritional remedies for erectile dysfunction that can supplement lifestyle change are available also. One of the most promising are proteolytic enzymes.
Proteolytic enzymes are known to …
- Break down excess fibrin and scar tissue in the blood stream. Fibrin is a protein that helps blood clot, but sometimes the body goes into overdrive and fails to “turn off” fibrin production. Excess fibrin thickens the blood, increases blood pressure and hinders circulation. Proteolytic enzymes cleanse the blood of fibrin and boost cardiovascular health.
- Fight inflammation naturally. Inflammation is one of the primary causes of hardened arteries (atherosclerosis), yet over-the-counter NSAIDs have a laundry list of side effects (including ED) that make them inappropriate for long-term use. Proteolytic enzymes recognize “bad” prostaglandins that cause excessive inflammation and dispose of them.
- Slow the aging process. Natural production of proteolytic enzymes drops significantly starting around age 27; in fact, a baby’s supply of enzymes are 100 times higher than an elderly person’s. That’s one of the reasons muscle soreness and joint pain slowly increase over a lifespan.
It’s nearly impossible to replace your store of proteolytic enzymes through diet alone, even if you eat a great diet of all organic foods. But you can safely and easily replace them through supplementation. Unlike many vitamins, you literally cannot get too many enzymes.
When one considers how helpful they are for reversing damage in your cardiovascular system… inflammation from diabetes… and even erectile dysfunction, it’s essential to find a high quality proteolytic enzyme supplement for daily use.
There are precious few proteolytic enzyme supplements on the market. But you can get the world’s most potent proteolytic enzyme supplement right here at the Healthy Back Institute®. It’s called Heal-n-Soothe®.
Bohm M. Erectile dysfunction predicts cardiovascular events in high-risk patients receiving telmisartan, ramipril, or both. Circulation. 2010 Mar 30;121(12):1439-46.
Feldman HA. Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. The Journal of Urology. 1994 Jan;151(1):54-61.
Selvin E. Prevalence and Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction in the US. The American Journal of Medicine. 2007 Feb;120(2).
Musicki B. Inactivation of phosphorylated endothelial nitric oxide synthase (Ser-1177) by O-GlcNAc in diabetes-associated erectile dysfunction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 2005 Aug 16;102(33):11870-5.
Gleason J. Regular Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use and Erectile Dysfunction. The Journal of Urology. 2011 Feb. 21.
Written By: Updated: February 21,2014