It is estimated that 70 percent of men with ED (Erectile Dysfunction / impotence) have medical causes and around 30 percent have psychological causes and often ED is a combination of both.
Atherosclerosis which is often associated with heart disease and stroke is caused by a buildup of plaque on the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrition to the heart, brain and other small blood vessels in the body. This plaque buildup restricts blood flow and poor blood flow is the #1 cause of erectile dysfunction.
Atherosclerosis causes ED 60% of the time.
Because the blood vessels that carry blood flow to cause an erection are very small, even the smallest amount of obstructing plaque will present itself as a loss of sexual potency and actually can be a significant indicator of a potential future heart attack or stroke. A study published in the January 2015 journal PLoS Medicine, shows men aged 45 and up with moderate or severe erectile dysfunction and not diagnosed with heart disease, were up to 50 percent more likely to develop heart problems.
However ED is a complex health issue and can have many causes:
Stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, smoking, alcohol and medications are also top of the list.
Medical Problems: Arthrosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, low testosterone hormone, high sex hormone binding globulin, low DHEA hormone, thyroid problems, kidney issues, blood vessel damage, nerve damage, anxiety and depression.
Dr. Ryan Berglund, MD, a urology specialist at the Cleveland Clinic says "The systemic inflammation caused by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis is being linked to erectile dysfunction. It may be that these diseases cause small blood vessel inflammation that interferes with penile blood flow."
Dr. John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., head of Stanford University’s vascular unit states “The lining of the vessel is very important for cardiac health. When the endothelium is healthy it’s like Teflon, and things don’t stick. When it’s unhealthy, it becomes more like Velcro, attracting blood-borne gunk like flies to flypaper and a damaged endothelium doesn’t make enough Nitric Oxide, which results in more damage in an increasingly dangerous spiral.”
Nitric Oxide is also produced by the nerve cells in the erectile tissue of the penis, and also by the nerves in the brain. In order for the penile nerves to work properly and stimulate an erection, the blood vessels and the nerves must have enough Nitric Oxide to keep them in good working order.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein made by your liver can also be a contributing factor. It binds tightly to three sex hormones found in both men and women. These hormones are estrogen; dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone. SHBG carries these three hormones throughout your blood. SHBG controls the amount of testosterone that your body tissues can use. A high SHBG level in men means that it is likely that less free testosterone is available to the tissues than is indicated by the total testosterone test. SHBG blood test is available through your primary care doctor.
Medications are the cause of ED 25% of the time in men. Some types of blood pressure medications can also cause erectile dysfunction. In particular diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide and beta blockers like atenolol are known offenders. Other medications include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, acid inhibitors (like omeprazole), anti-histamines, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Naproxen and Motrin can be contributors to ED.
Prostate Surgery: Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is the most common form of surgery for BPH (Benign Prostate Hypertrophy / prostate enlargement), and is commonly referred to as the “Roto-Rooter” technique. TURP is known to increase risk of ED by at least 14%.
Fortunately there are many natural ways to overcome ED!
Although it is best to discuss your ED concerns with your Holistic Practitioner and medical doctor, we have found these supplements have safely helped many of our patients. Remember these are not a quick fix and need to be taken over a longer period of time to improve body function.
Testosterone Factors (Michael’s Naturopathic Programs) a blend of vitamins and herbs includes phytosterols and the amino acid L-arginine. Vitamin C and Pantothenic Acid – For steroid hormone production, including testosterone. Niacin – Involved in the metabolism of cholesterol, a precursor to testosterone. Gamma Oryzanol – Supports testosterone levels. Alanine – Required for pantothenic acid synthesis. L-Arginine – High concentrations in seminal fluid; a hormone building block. It improves blood flow to the penis by increasing the body's natural supply of nitric oxide that opens up blood vessels. Side note: L-Arginine also decreases blood pressure and therefore also helps to reduce medications for blood pressure which cause ED.
Tongkat Ali (Solaray) is an herb which increases testosterone production in your body: It boosts Luteinzing hormone, for increased testicular testosterone production. Reduces the amount of your testosterone that is converted into estrogen, Reduces cortisol, a stress hormone that lowers testosterone and decreases your Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), leading to more bioavailable testosterone in your system.
Stinging Nettle Root (Solaray) is an herb that contains Lignans which has been shown to help to lower sex hormone-binding globulin. This may help ensure that free testosterone is available for promoting male vitality and youthful sexual function. It is also beneficial for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or prostate enlargement). One clinical trial reported six months of supplementation with nettle root led to decrease International Prostate Symptom Scores, improved peak urinary flow rate, and decreases in post-void residual volume of urine in the bladder.
Tribulus Complex (Jarrow Formulas) contains an Ayurveda herb Tribulus terrestris (45% steroidal saponins) known to enhance androgen receptor density in the brain. It has been shown to increase virility, vitality, muscle mass and libido (sex drive). Sensoril Ashwagandha and Rhodiola extracts, adaptogens that support endurance. Andrograph extract contains andrographolides, substances that support immune function and counter physical stress. Green Tea Extract (50% polyphenols) is added to support the strength of capillaries and other blood vessels.
Warning!!! Be Very Cautious of supplements often recommended for ED containing Yohimbe, Horny Goat Weed, Guarana, and Maca as they can dangerously increase blood pressure!
However as noted above there can additional or other causes for ED so if you need help give us a call. Appointments (telephone or in-office) with Practitioners Peter Morrell, and Jane Jansen are available at the Tree of Life Wellness Center 508-336-4242.
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner
Host of Holistic Healthline Radio