Symptoms, Causes, Natural Treatment
Erectile dysfunction refers to the inability to achieve or maintain an erection adequate for normal sexual intercourse. It may affect men of any age, but is typically seen in older male due to vascular and hormonal dysfunction, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and androgen deficiency.
It affects 2% of males at 45 and 25% of males at 65.
Erectile dysfunction can be very embarrassing for a male. There are natural treatment options available, they involve addressing the underlying cause of dysfunction, whether it be psychological, nutritional, a problem with hormone production or a combination of factors.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
- Functional – related to stress and psychological issues
- Anatomic – related to structural abnormalities
- Neurogenic – caused by disorders affecting the central nervous system e.g. Multiple sclerosis
- Vascular – caused by disorders affecting the circulation e.g. atherosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes
- Hormonal – androgen deficiency, hypothyroidism, high prolactin levels
- Other causes – recreational drugs or medications
- Use of certain medications, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes
- Stress and adrenal exhaustion
- Diabetes (50% are impotent)
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate)
- Excess toxins and impaired detoxification pathways
TREATMENT STRATEGY FOR ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
- Identify / address underlying cause
- Reduce stress and support nervous system and adrenal function
- Support testosterone production
- Support circulation
- Investigate and treat gut dysbiosis
- Address SIBO if indicated
- Address methylation, hormone clearance and detoxification
- Ensure blood sugar stability
Diet plan guidelines for Erectile Dysfunction
- Paleo style diet – Whole food, low-GI diet high in fruits, vegetables, grass fed animal meats and plant-based proteins and healthy fats
- Include zinc-rich foods to support testosterone production: oysters, seafood, cashews, legumes, pumpkin seeds
- Cold-water, oily fish: high in omega-3 essential fatty acids which are important for hormone production
- Include adequate protein to support muscle mass
- Include calcium-rich foods to support bone health: yoghurt, bony fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, tahini
- Avoid sugars, refined carbohydrates, refined oils, trans fats and processed foods to prevent obesity and cardiovascular disease
Supplements that support Erectile Dysfunction
- Zinc -: to support testosterone production
- Omega-3 fatty acids – to support hormone synthesis and protect against cardiovascular disease
- Vitamin D ( depending on status) – needed for testosterone production
- L-arginine 1.5 – 5 g/day: improves nitric oxide synthesis thus increasing dilation of blood vessels. Shown in clinical studies to be effective in ED
- B-complex – support nervous system
- Magnesium – reduce sympathetic nervous response
- Vitamin C – support adrenal function and testosterone production
- Vitamin E – support circulation and cardiovascular function
- Vitamin E – support circulation
Herbal Medicine that’s supports Erectile Dysfunction
- Male reproductive tonics – panax ginseng, tribulus, epimedium, saw palmetto
- Adaptogens – panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, withania, schisandra
- Nervines – damiana, St John‘s wort, passionflower, scullcap, oats, gotu kola
- Circulatory stimulants – gingko, prikly ash, cayenne, gotu kola
Lifestyle / Physical measures
- Stress management: exercise, relaxation, meditation etc
- Counselling to resolve underlying psychological issues
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE TREATMENT OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Erectile dysfunction can be very stressful when experienced. It can be caused by a number of underlying causes or a combination of multiple imbalances.
A functional medicine model addresses the patients underlying dysfunctions, restoring balance and enabling the body to begin to restore homeostasis.
Addressing conditions such as SIBO, methylation, HPA axis dysfunction, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and bacterial and fungal overgrowth of the gut can assist with allowing the body heal. Reversing any or all of these imbalances will improve the way a patient absorbs nutrition from food, clears estrogens, produces testosterone and inhibits the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
At our Perth clinic of Advanced Functional Medicine we assist patients to recover from erectile dysfunction. We treat patients in person at our clinic and Australia wide through video link.
If you are suffering from erectile dysfunction we would love to hear from you. Do you know what is contributing to your dysfunction? Have you addressed any of the imbalances outlined in the paragraph above? Do you have a recovery story you would like to share? Please leave a comment below.