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Male Enhancement Products, Separating Help from Hype

If you stay up late enough, you can be entertained by a variety of commercials and infomercials on TV about male enhancement products. If all the claims the manufacturers of these products made were true, there would be a lot of very satisfied men. However, promises that your erection will not only be harder but bigger and longer are wishful thinking. Some of the products may help make your erection harder, perhaps, but you cannot add length to your penis by taking a supplement–unless it’s magic.

So how do you separate the help from the hype? It’s not hard to do, if you’re willing to do some research, and you can start here.

First of all, you should know there are some effective natural ways to improve your erection and erectile function. Before you take any supplements or try other methods, however, you should consult your healthcare provider to be sure your erectile challenges are not associated with a medical problem, such as diabetes, heart disease, or circulatory or nerve problems. Even if they are, that does not mean you can’t use a natural male enhancement product, but you should do so only with the guidance of a health professional.

Choosing a Male Enhancement Product

What should men look for when choosing a male enhancement product? According to Dr. Geo Espinosa, Director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York Langone Medical Center, men should shop for “a formula that improves energy and mental fatigue, combats stress (a major erection killer), promotes penile health by providing nutrients to the arteries of the heart and penis, promotes circulation, and naturally opens the arteries of the penis.”

Okay, you might be saying to yourself, so if a product claims to do most or all of these things, how do I separate a helpful product from hype? This is where you may need to do some research.

For example, if a product claims to contain ingredients that improve blood flow to the penis, will the manufacturer provide the studies to back up that claim? Ask for the references if they are not readily available. Similarly, if a product says it will make your penis longer, can the manufacturer provide the studies that show this to be true? (Hint: There aren’t any such studies.)

The manufacturer of a male enhancement product should be able to back up any claims with published scientific studies, preferably some that have been done in humans. These studies should be available on the manufacturer’s website, or you can search for them on PubMed.

In either case, be sure to check out each of the references to be sure they are valid. If the manufacturer does not respond to your request or you find some or all of the citations are not valid, then you have your answer about whether you should use that product.

Any male enhancement product you consider also should be formulated by qualified experts, such as physicians or scientists. Again, don’t automatically accept the word of the manufacturer. Check out the credentials of the expert whose name is associated with the product.

Effective Male Enhancement Ingredients

Let’s say you are considering several different male enhancement products. Each of them says they have been formulated by a doctor or other expert. Be sure to check that out. In the meantime, look at the ingredients listed on the label. Do you know which substances have some scientific evidence that they promote male sexual function?

Naturally, the manufacturer wants you to believe that every ingredient in the product is effective, but you need to know for certain. Here is a list of natural substances that have been shown to enhance male sexual function.

L-citrulline

L-citrulline is an amino acid that transforms into L-arginine, a substance that is necessary for the production of nitric oxide. For those unfamiliar with nitric oxide, it’s a chemical that plays a critical role in erectile function because it is responsible for relaxing penile smooth muscles and facilitating the development of an erection.

A natural question from this information might be, “Why not just take L-arginine?” The problem with arginine supplements is that extremely high doses (3,000 mg or more) are necessary to have an effect on erectile function, since most of the substance metabolizes when it is taken orally. L-citrulline, on the other hand, is easily converted into arginine by the kidneys and is a safe, effective alternative to arginine supplements to raise nitric oxide levels.

In a recent study published in Urology, researchers reported on the effect of L-citrulline in men who had mild erectile dysfunction. Half (12) of the men experienced an improvement from mild erectile dysfunction to normal erectile function after taking L-citrulline. In addition, the authors reported that “L-citrulline supplementation has been proved to be safe and psychologically well accepted by patients.”

Horny Goat Weed

We’re not kidding: horny goat weed (Epimedium grandiflorum) really is the name of this herb valued for its ability to improve erectile function. That’s because horny goat weed contains icariin, a substance scientifically proven to effectively stimulate an erection by improving nitric oxide activity and supporting normal levels of an enzyme associated with male sexual response.

Thus far the studies have been conducted only in animals, but the results have been promising. In one such study, icariin acted as a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, which means it has the same activity as drugs men take to treat erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra and Cialis. In another study, icariin demonstrated an ability to improve nerve damage in the penis of rats.

Rhodiola root

Rhodiola root (Rhodiola rosea) is perhaps best known as an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress, maintain energy levels and immune function, and promote cellular health. Rhodiola also is a potent antioxidant. Men who experience erectile dysfunction know it can be a stressful time, and rhodiola has demonstrated an ability to reduce stress and sexual dissatisfaction.

For example, a Swedish study examined the use of rhodiola root extract in individuals who suffered with stress-related fatigue. Results of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that use of R. rosea extract had an anti-fatigue effect that improved the ability of individuals to concentrate as well as decreased the response of stress hormones.

Resveratrol

You may be more familiar with resveratrol that comes from grapes, but this potent antioxidant also can be found in Japanese knotweed a (Polygonum cuspidatum). Studies indicate that resveratrol is beneficial in fighting the accumulation of cholesterol (a substance that hinders blood flow) and also in improving the circulation of nitric oxide and boosting levels of testosterone and sperm.

A study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research reported on the effect of resveratrol on a high cholesterol diet in rabbits. The researchers found that resveratrol can be effective in preventing changes in the arteries that could lead to erectile dysfunction.

Pomegranate

The pomegranate is an unusual looking but delicious fruit that embodies a wealth of antioxidants, especially anthocyanin, a phytonutrient that stimulates nitric oxide bioavailability while also promoting  blood flow to the penis. Studies have shown that men who take supplements of pomegranate are better able to achieve firm erections and enjoy better sexual performance.

For example, the authors of a study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research reported on the effect of pomegranate juice versus placebo in improving erections in 53 men who had mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Of the 42 men who showed an improvement in erectile function, 25 had consumed pomegranate juice.

Other Natural Ways to Improve Erectile Function

Men looking for male enhancement techniques can also turn to other natural options. Not all of these approaches are supported by clinical studies, however, although diet and exercise are always highly recommended for overall sexual health.

  • Acupuncture: Use of this ancient Chinese medicine practice has been promoted for erectile dysfunction, but the evidence for acupuncture has not been substantiated.
  • Diet: A diet that focuses on natural, whole foods and is low in saturated fats can support overall sexual health. One good example is The Prostate Diet.
  • Exercise: Men who participate in physical activity on a regular basis improve circulation and heart function, which in turn can enhance erectile function.
  • Homeopathy: This holistic treatment approach has remedies that may support the immune system and promote sexual function, although at this time there are no clinical studies to support use of homeopathic remedies for this purpose.
  • Korean ginseng: This herbal option has demonstrated some ability to boost erectile function, but as Dr. Geo notes, very high doses (3,000 mg or more) are necessary to get any results.
  • Maca: This herb comes from Peru and has demonstrated an ability to improve sexual dysfunction in depressed men and women in a Massachusetts General Hospital study. However, a high dose of 3,000 mg daily was necessary for this improvement.
  • Yohimbine: This herbal remedy has been touted as an erectile dysfunction remedy, but its use is associated with severe side effects. Therefore, use of this herbal remedy is not recommended.

Effective Male Enhancement Products

Now you know that the most effective male enhancement products are those that contain ingredients supported by scientific studies and that have been formulated by experts. One product that fits these criteria is XY VGR, which stimulates and nurtures male sexual health, sexual arousal, and performance. This natural product fosters penile smooth muscle relaxation and engorgement, maximizes erectile and endothelial function, supports peak stamina and a firm, long-lasting erection, regulates libido-suppressing stress hormones, and provides antioxidant support.

Regardless of which male enhancement product or technique you choose, you should always tell your primary care provider or urologist about your choices. Herbal remedies and other male enhancement options may interact with medications you are taking or affect medical conditions you may have.

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About Dr. Geo Espinosa, N.D., L.Ac, CNS, RH (AHG)

Dr. Geo is the Director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center and the Chief Science Officer at Prostate Research Labs. Before joining NYU, Dr. Geo was a clinician, researcher and director of clinical trials at the Center for Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center. He is a licensed naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Registered Herbalist. Dr. Geo is an author of the naturopathic entry in 1000 Cures for 200 ailments, by Harper Collins; March 2007 and “Prostate Cancer – Nutrients that may slow its progression,” Food and Nutrients in Disease Management – Maryland: Cadmus Publishing, 2009. He also serves on the editorial board of the Natural Medicine Journal.
 
Dr Geo is a frequent speaker at universities, medical schools and conferences on Integrative Health, nutrition and natural treatments for prostate disease. More on Dr. Geo

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Site last updated 19 April, 2014

  
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