How amino acids help treat erectile dysfunction and impotence
Erectile dysfunction or ED is a male sexual dysfunction and expressed in the inability to have an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.
Erectile dysfunction is very common – although most men will not admit to having potency problems.
The “vasodilation effect” of Arginine-induced Nitric Oxide increases blood flow throughout the body – including the penis.
Various studies have shown that over half of all men over 40 have at least partial potency issues.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) / impotence is surprisingly common and often caused by poor circulation. In 1998 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to research related to erectile function. It has since been shown that Arginine-based supplements can treat ED sustainably without side effects. Further research has shown that pine bark extract makes Arginine even more effective at Nitric-Oxide boosting.
How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction
According to current estimates up to 52% of all men over 40 suffer from some sort of erectile dysfunction.
Cardiovascular: poor circulation throughout the body caused by increasing calcification of important arteries and small blood vessels. Underlying causes are smoking, hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis and high cholesterol. The effect is an inability of the body to effectively direct blood to areas where needed such as flooding the penis with flood to create an erection.
Hormonal: Too much estrogen and too little testosterone (T) in the male body. Commonly caused by fast food diets, alcohol, excessive weight and too little exercise. This imbalance increases as men age and produce less T.
Psychological: there are three types of psychological causes: anxiety (stress) caused by over-expectation, boredom caused by the Coolidge Effect (lack of libido) and Dopamine addiction, which is most commonly caused by excess use of internet pornography.
Side-Effects: Certain anti-depressants, beta-blockers and anticonvulsants (antiepileptic drugs) can adversely affect erectile function.
Physical / Neurological: leakages in the cavernous (spongy) body and damages to the smooth muscles and its nerves.
Cardiovascular problems are thought to cause up to 80% of all cases of Erectile Dysfunction, often in combination with hormonal or psychological issues.
All the above cases are a direct result of damaged blood vessels or the cavernous body compromising the fully functioning of the penis. The result in turn is that insufficient blood will enter the penis to ensure a minimum level of stiffness for sexual intercourse.
Generally, compromised male potency should be classified as a first symptom of potentially serious illness as it is a common side effect of organ failure.
For this reason erectile dysfunction should always be examined by a qualified medical practitioner as it may be an early stage symptom of problems in the vascular system.
An imminent stroke may even be diagnosed via an erectile dysfunction so that immediate action can be taken. The blood vessels of the heart and the penis demonstrate a large degree of similarity. They will therefore be often in a very similar state with regards to calcification and/or artherosclerosis.
As soon as such potential early stage symptoms are identified an Andrologist or Urologist should be seen immediately in order to avoid long-term irreversible damage. The specialist will then be able to identify the exact causes and suggest appropriate treatment.
This may include the use of natural dietary supplements. Unlike conventional prescription-based medicine these do not strain the body unnecessarily and are easy to digest.
In addition, dietary supplements are able to increase the quality of sperm in terms of movement therefore increasing fertility.
We have known for years that sometimes ED can be caused by psychological factors. For example, tiredness, excessive stress or pressure to perform ‘as you used to when you were young’, can result in a vicious cycle of erection disorder.
Men can easily develop a psychological pattern after an initial failure to perform once, an entirely natural occurrence as testosterone levels diminish with increasing age.
Anxiety during sexual intercourse will cause distraction and loss of focus, which will immediately be reflected in the hardness of the erection. This causes deep, evolutionary-rooted frustration due to non-fulfillment of the most primeval male task. This in turn causes further loss of focus and enjoyment of the moment especially as the partner notices the frustration.
Impotence and Internet Pornography
Failure anxiety can be exasperated by overuse of internet pornography. Please review this extremely interesting video on this topic:
Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction tend to be diagnosed when erections still occur during the night or in the morning, but fail during intercourse.
A common method for the man to self-treat this pattern is to practice a technique called ‘edging’. As soon as he experiences either an erection or an imminent orgasm, he must stop the stimulation, wait just a few seconds for the excitement to wane and then begin to stimulate again. Practicing edging during masturbation or intercourse will progressively build conscious control over both erection and orgasm, potentially curing not just ED, but also premature ejaculation.
Additional treatment methods are offered by specialised so-called ‘psycho-sexual’ therapists. They may be able to use techniques based on cognitive therapy or Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Examples are setting anchors to trigger past memories involving sensations of intense pleasure, which help promote both erections and the ability to orgasm.
Ongoing erectile dysfunction in combination with fatigue or melancholia could be caused by a lack of Testosterone (T).
T declines naturally with age, but the decline is often accelerated by stress, smoking, alcohol, other drugs or medicine and a lack of exercise caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
In severe cases, Andrologists may usually prescribe the direct supplementation. Testosterone does however increase the risk of prostate cancer. Its role in ED treatments is therefore controversial and dosages should be kept to a minimum and closely supervised.
Research has shown that the consumption of alcohol and tobacco can significantly contribute to weak erections and ultimately result in an erectile dysfunction and impotence1.
Although a large number of possible causes will have to be considered cardiovascular problems are thought to cause up to 80% of all cases of Erectile Dysfunction / Impotence, often in combination with hormonal or psychological issues.
Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
Today’s most common treatments for erectile dysfunction are prescription-based.
These mostly short-term treatments, however, do not treat the underlying cause of the problem and have side effects. They include headaches, facial blushing, stomach aches, dizziness and painful erections lasting for many hours.
It is therefore essential that treatment is administered by a qualified medical professional and that the product itself is genuine. Online trade with often harmful counterfeits has risen sharply in recent years.
Even though products purchased online may look identical, more than half of them are identified as counterfeits at customs. They should therefore only be purchased with prescription from registered or reputable pharmacies.
The most common natural treatment of impotence is the daily supplementation of the amino acid L-arginine in combination with Pine Bark Extract. The treatment is backed by a vast body of scientific research studies and is effective in over 90% of cases2.
This micronutrient combination cures the symptoms of erectile dysfunction by working directly on the cause of the erection problem, which is poor blood circulation in the majority of cases (vascular erectile dysfunction).
In contract, no other herb or extract has been conclusively backed by modern scientific, peer-reviewed research studies in respect of their apparent benefits. For specific examples, please refer to the following article, which outlines and compares a number of erectile function enhancers.
An amino-acid based treatment should always be the preferred treatment over prescription-based medication. This is because it does not have any side effects even in large quantities. Often it is advised to look for long-term sustainable treatment options, because patients may feel that their partnerships or marriages are at risk.
They may hence suffer from ongoing psychological stress in addition to the physical problems. An ongoing supplement-based treatment offers a definitive advantage over the event-based short-term use of prescription-based medication.
The semi-essential amino acid L-Arginine supports the structure and functionality of blood vessels and in doing so prevents arteriosclerosis.
It is therefore a significant contributor to the proper supply of blood to the penis an effective treatment in the fight against impotence.
Here is a very informative video showing Dr Ignarro, who discovered the benefits of Nitric Oxide.
He and his team received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1998 for their work on “nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system”, which was explained on the basis of the male erection mechanism.
Initially it was thought that an improvement in the ability to have and hold an erection could be achieved by consuming 5,000 mg on a daily basis. 3. The research, however, did not produce satisfactory results.
A significant study was published in 2003, which showed that 1,700mg of Arginine in combination with 120mg pine bark extract per day enabled 92% of test subjects to experience a normal erection after three months4.
Pine bark extract acts as a catalyst to the NO Synthase process, which enables vasodilation. In addition, it reduces inflammation in the arterial blood vessels and increases their elasticity whilst protecting the endothelial cells. Pine bark extract is therefore sometimes referred to as a Nitric Oxide Booster.
L-Arginine is found in almost all legal impotence treatments. However, it is most effective in dosages above 1,700mg per day and in combination with pine bark extract.
Both nutrients significantly enhance the body’s natural ability to relax the penile muscles and blood vessels due to their central role in the synthesis of NO (nitric oxide). This enables the blood to flow freely into the penis’ cavernous (spongy) body and stops any possible backflow.
Furthermore, the combination of Arginine and pine bark extract has been shown to enhance the male libido and increases the quantity and mobility of sperm4.
Recommended products with a good reputation are e.g. aminoexpert Vigarin (priced at €39 / approximately £33 per month when purchased for 90 days) and amitamin M forte (£34,95 GBP / month).
Pine bark extract or Pycnogenol, which is the US registered trademark is derived from the bark of a tree known as French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster).
Researched since the 1970s, pine bark extract today is used for treating a vast range of health disorders, such as circulation problems, asthma, ringing in the ears, allergies, high blood pressure, pain, osteoarthritis, muscle soreness, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disease of the female reproductive system called endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, painful menstrual periods, erectile dysfunction (ED), and an eye disease called retinopathy.
It is used for preventing disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including stroke, heart disease, erectile dysfunction and varicose veins. It does so by protecting blood vessels from inflammation and antioxidation whilst promoting the absorption of nitrogen into the bloodstream.
It is also used to slow the aging process, maintain healthy skin, improve male fertility and improve athletic endurance. Sometimes it is used in skin creams that contain pycnogenol as “anti-aging” products6
A study published in 2003 investigated the effects of pine bark extract on men with erectile dysfunction over a period of three months7. Conducted at a Bulgarian fertility clinic in Sofia, the cohort study involved 40 men aged 25 to 45.
After three months of treatment with a combination of 80mg of pine bark extract and 1,700mg Arginine daily, 92.5% of participants regained their normal ability to have erections.
A number of products including both Arginine and Pine bark Extract have been reviewed here.
Homocysteine is a harmful metabolic by-product and can be responsible for damaging vessels and arteries in particular. The fine vessels of the male penis are particularly susceptible to vascular damage. Homocysteine therefore is a cell poison and must be permanently broken down by the body to be rendered harmless.
It can only be metabolised if enough folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are present in the system. Furthermore, Betaine is critically involved in the degradation of harmful homocysteine. The combination of these nutrients is therefore very important for healthy homocysteine levels and healthy blood vessels – and good erectile function.
Spanish fly is a poison extracted from the Emerald Green Blister Beetle. It is thought to increase libido, but stimulating the genitourinary tract, however, the correct dosage is unknown, its effect is not well understood and production is not standardised. It is therefore dangerous to experiment with this substance. No research as been conducted in humans on the correct dosages, effects and especially side effects. Tribulus Terrestris is aggressively marketed on the basis of its reputed testosterone and strength enhancing effects. These effects, however, have only been conclusively shown in rats, never in humans. In fact, several double-blinded, randomised studies have conclusively found that it neither enhances strength gains8 nor promotes testosterone production in men9. Maca is a well-known plant originating in South America. It does not specifically target the physical mechanisms of ED, but rather the psychological approcach by enhancing libido. It is therefore taken by both men and women. It is also incorrectly referred to as the “natural Viagra”, because Viagra works by mechanically improving penile blood flow rather than stimulating libido.
When taken on its own, one is therefore likely to experience arousal without mechanically being able to achieve an erection. A combination of Maca with a vasodilator such as L-Arginine is recommended for this reason.
Yohimbine is a plant extract with anti-depressant properties. Scientific studies on humans have not been conclusive as to whether it is an effective erectile dysfunction remedy10,11.Yohimbine is widely available as a treatment of ED. Horny Goat Weed‘s active ingredient is thought to be Icariin. Again, no research as been conducted on humans, although it has been demonstrated to relax penile tissue by nitric oxide and PDE-5 activity in rats. Other research has demonstrated that injections directly into the rat’s penis resulted in an increase in penile blood pressure. Icariin has been shown to have a weak potency and correct dosages, oral bioavailability and side-effects are unknown. Proprietary ED formulae are aggressively marketed using clever sales techniques, which promise to save relationships and provide lasting happiness. These products tend to include mixtures of the above herbs. Unfortunately, they rarely list ingredients transparently and neither their effctiveness, nor their dosages are backed up by peer-reviewed scientific research. If you are keen to experiment with these products please discuss the dosages, directions and risk of side effects with your GP or physician first.
An erectile dysfunction represents a major challenge for men and indeed their partners. It has an impact on their life in both physical and psychological ways. Mid- and long-term dysfunctions are almost always caused by circulation-based problems. They must be examined by doctors to exclude the possibility of more serious conditions.
The body’s inability to effectively regulate blood flow leads to insufficient blood flow into the penis’ cavernous (spongy) body. This causes a progressively weaker erection.
Several peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated how amino acids, in particular Arginine are able to contribute effectively improve erectile function. The best results were achieved when Arginine was combined with Pine Bark Extract. A number of products including both nutrients have been reviewed here.
Pine Bark Extract and Arginine act synergistically by increasing the production of Nitrogen Oxide. Betaine, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 reduce inflammation and preserve blood vessels. This enables them to relax effectively and increasing blood flow into the penis to produce an erection.
In addition, psychological factors such as stress and anxiety can play also a major role.
———- Related studies:
“Haake P. Exton M.S. Haverkamp J. Krämer M. Leygraf N. Hartmann U. Schedlowski M. Krueger T.H.C, Absence of orgasm-induced prolactin secretion in a healthy multi-orgasmic male subject, (2002), International Journal of Impotence Research, Issue 14, Volume 2, Pages 133–135. DOI:10.1038/sj/ijir/3900823” ↩
“Stanislavov, R., et al, ” Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol and L -arginine “, J Sex Marital Ther 2003 May-Jun, 29 (3 ), pp. 207-213” ↩
“Chen J, Wollman Y, Chernichovsky T, Iaina A, Sofer M, Matzkin H.; Effect of oral administration of high-dose nitric oxide donor L-arginine in men with organic erectile dysfunction: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study; BJU Int. 1999 Feb;83(3):269-73 ↩
“Stanislavov R, Nikolova V: Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol, L-arginine and L-ornithine” ↩
“Stanislavov R, Nikolova V: Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol, L-arginine and L-ornithine” ↩