Who really needs a male sexual enhancement boost?Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a legitimate medical issue for millions of men, and the dominant Big Pharma medications are household names for a reason: the benefits seem worth the trouble—the headaches, dizziness, nasal congestion, racing pulse, pre-planning, waiting time, and so on. But there's medical need…and there's just wanting a more satisfying sex life. As I mentioned, life after 40 isn't like the good old days. That doesn't mean they're bad days, and doesn't mean they can't get better. So when there are safe, natural, pleasure enhancing alternatives that work perfectly well—without the trouble—I say go for it. Especially when what's good for your sex life is good for the entire body, and vice versa. And in some cases, an unexpected outcome can be a real blessing. Atherosclerosis, for example, causes blood-restricting fatty deposits to build up inside the arteries—including those that supply the penis. Those buildups can lead to ED-type symptoms—troublesome in themselves, but also maybe an invaluable warning mechanism. Because the small vessels that supply the penis are affected much sooner than the larger vessels leading to the heart, ED in younger middle-aged men can be an early sign of atherosclerosis. Knowing that can mean making behavioral changes that head off danger before it arrives. Which reminds me to remind you that taking good care of yourself—healthy diet, exercise, meditation—is your best assurance of good emotional and cardiovascular health, which are intimately linked to a good sex life.
Sex chemistry 101Some prescription meds and the supplements I recommend to my patients share a common ingredient: the amino acid l-arginine. It serves as a vasodilator that becomes the gas nitric oxide (NO)—which gently, naturally relaxes all of your blood vessels, including those in the penis, where you want a strong flow of oxygen-rich blood. Problem: Only about 12 percent of men using l-arginine reported successful results in one study. Solution: Teamwork.
- Our bountiful planet comes through once again with a plant extract called pycnogenol. It works with l-arginine to lift that success rate from 12 to as high as 80 percent. And unlike the one-time meds you take when you're planning to have sex, and which wear off in time, the longer a man takes a daily supplement with both pycnogenol and l-arginine, the more the benefits add up. An Italian study clearly showed that overall satisfaction was significantly higher after three months, and higher still after six months. As an added bonus, pycnogenol is also a powerful antioxidant. What's not to like? You can take 150 miligrams daily, and safely boost that up as far as 450 miligrams.
- L-citrulline is an amino acid that supports healthy circulation for sexual/erectile function by helping in the creation of that nitric oxide you read about earlier. Now throw in the welcome systemic benefits—a healthy arterial and cardiovascular system overall, and antioxidant powers to reduce bad LDL cholesterol. This is good medicine—natural, safe, and proven effective and side-effects free. Try 1.5 grams a day.
- Ashwagandha is another plant-based healer that's been around forever. So it's had plenty of time to be studied extensively for its broad-spectrum benefits, including as an aphrodisiac and male performance enhancer. Research has found that it can help boost healthy testosterone levels, essential for sexual health, energy, endurance and overall well-being, especially as we age. Aim for 675 mg daily.
- A 2008 lab study found that a compound in the herb horny goat weed neutralizes an enzyme that slows the healthy blood flow you need for satisfying sex—an effect similar to some Big Pharma drugs. Indeed, there was evidence that horny goat weed works better than those drugs, and with fewer side effects. I recommend 900 mg daily per 150 pounds of body weight.
- The bark of a tree grown in western Africa, yohimbe, gives us an extract long considered a natural male enhancement ingredient. It increases blood flow, as do Big Pharma's offerings, so effectively that higher doses are available by prescription, as well as over the counter. I recommend 2.5–5 mg daily to start, a little more at a time if you see no improvement.
- Vitamin D is the beloved "sunshine vitamin" that our bodies produce with the help of the sun. It's also one of the essential health-makers that almost every patient I see is deficient in. If you're a D-deficient man, you're prone to low testosterone and reduced sex drive. If you're a D-deficient woman, it can cause low estrogen, which can mean low sex drive. So, if you’re looking to get “busier”, be sure you both have adequate levels of D. There's a simple test to find out. If you're moderately deficient, I recommend 1,500 IUs per day, man, woman, and child. Very deficient? Up to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily, and up to 30 minutes of direct sunlight.
- DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone our bodies make that contributes to creation of sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Our levels of these hormones begin to decline at age 30 or so. DHEA supplements, with the same vasodilator effect as Big Pharma and other herbal offerings, can help ensure testosterone levels are high enough for great sex. Try 25–50 mg daily, depending on your size, and aim for a lab test result of 250 mg present in your system. Do not take DHEA if you have cardiovascular problems.
- A 2012 study of Tongkat Ali, a traditional Malaysian remedy for men experiencing flagging sexual performance, gave the herb to a group of men, only 35 percent of whom had normal testosterone levels. After one month, the percentage of men with normal levels jumped to more than 90 percent. A different study found that men who consumed Tongkat Ali daily experienced improvements in erectile function, libido, and volume of ejaculate. Try 200–450 mg daily.
A plethora of much better choicesThis should give you plenty of options. Be sure to discuss your situation with your doctor before trying or changing any supplement(s). And please, be acutely aware of two things:
- The market is flooded with cheap, dangerous frauds. Many include what are called analogues of the same potent ingredients as in Big Pharma's offerings, created by ingenious but diabolically unscrupulous chemists. These analogues often appear in potentially deadly overdose levels, and are often accompanied by useless or dangerous other drugs, such as those for treating diabetes. If there's an upside to these frauds, it's that they almost always have ridiculous names, like Mojo Rising or Night Boom. Do not go there. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to ensure the manufacturer and the formulations of any options are legitimate.
- As with any supplement, there can be dangerous, unwanted interactions between even the most reputable supplements and any other prescription or OTC meds you're taking.
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