Dr.Karol, MD

The doctor with alternative solutions

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Discussing Sexual Health

Many men suffer from erectile dysfunction, lack of libido, (i.e., sex drive), and premature ejaculation due to over-excitement or sexually related anxiety. In the absence of sexual partners, this may be seen as a blessing. But for those of you forming intimate relationships, it can be a serious burden. Many turn to prescription medication to help this condition. But there are natural alternatives too.

The sexually enhancing properties of certain plants have been backed by well-conducted human clinical trials. These plants go by the name of Eurycoma longifolia, Tribulus terrestris, Maca, and the plants of the ginseng family.

The prescription route

So why search for natural, plant-based remedies when we have prescription medications such as Viagra and Cialis? Well, for one, these are prescription medications and they involve the hassle of going to a doctor and discussing intimate issues, which many men are reluctant to do. While doctors are well-versed in discussing sexual health issues, many men feel insecure or embarrassed when it comes to this topic.

Those who opt for the more anonymous online route should know that ordering these medications without a prescription poses serious health risks. Usually “black market” medications are shipped from Asia or India where there are no stringent regulatory standards in place to ensure that the drug produced is safe for human consumption and that it actually lives up to its claims. These medicines may be contaminated with harmful compounds or manufactured in a manner that produces a toxic byproduct.

Finally, Viagra and Cialis may have some potentially serious side effects. One of the more serious ones is a drastic drop in blood pressure, (which can cause loss of consciousness as well as heart attacks and strokes), when taken with nitrates. Nitrates are medications taken by patients with specific heart conditions such as coronary artery disease. Viagra and Cialis, (as well as other medicines in the same group), may also cause prolonged erections, which can cause excruciating pain and even permanent damage to the penis.

Going natural

Natural plant-based medicines seldom cause side effects and generally speaking, any side effects are usually much weaker in intensity than those from prescription medications. Furthermore, plant-based medications that are considered dietary supplements or health products are available without a prescription. This eliminates the bother and potential embarrassment that may be associated with a visit to the doctor.

The Canada-US Factor

There is a flip side to the story, however. Most plant-based medicines that are commonly used for enhancing sexual performance have very limited research data from human clinical trials behind them. There are over 30 such ingredients in the US market today. In Canada, only two plant-based extracts boast approved sexually-related claims: Tribulus terrestris and Maca. In my professional opinion, the number of ingredients in the US and their sexual health claims are unsubstantiated exaggerations.

On the Canadian side, the number of ingredients represents an oversimplification and does not correctly reflect the number of plant-based medicines that have rigorous and well-performed clinical trials showing their positive effects on sexual function.

We actually see this time and again when comparing Canada to the US. The two countries frequently show exaggerated and polarized extremes in their approach to many important issues: The first is the difference between the accepted claims for many plant-based medicines. Another is the two countries’ contrasting approach to their respective health care systems.

But my intention here is not to discuss political differences. My objective is to present plant-based medicines’ sexual enhancing functions, which have been substantiated by first-rate human clinical trials.

Next week I will come back to discuss Eurycoma longifolia jack, Tribulus terrestris (a mouthful, I know), Maca, and plants of the ginseng family in the context of enhancing sexual function— as well as the human trials that have been performed using these interesting plants. See you soon.