When getting it up gets you down

The curious case of “erectile dysfunction”

If you’re looking for a shining example of Big Pharma creating an illness where before there was none, just look down.

Ever since finding a “cure” for erectile dysfunction (ED), the pharmaceutical industry has convinced men across the country that there’s something wrong with them (and that they need drugs to fix it). As a result, there’s an “ED” and now “low-T” epidemic in this country, and the industry that created it keeps laughing their way to the bank.

The truth is, bedroom performance issues are much less prominent (and profitable) than Pfizer and friends would have you believe.

ED throughout the ages

When trying to gain new insights on natural healing, I like to look back toward ancient health traditions which usually had solutions now validated by modern medical science—and the test of time.

In India, men with performance concerns could consult the Kama Sutra and some of the (undiluted for western consumption) practices of tantric yoga (see my book, Vital Healing, London: Singing Dragon Press, 2011).

In China, men of the Ming Dynasty had a bevy of curious cures to choose from (usually administered by their ever-changing stable of concubines). These aphrodisiacs included a number of symbolic fruits and plants that served purely as visual aids, as well as some actual remedies. The most popular among them was a pair of red lizards (mini-dragons) caught while copulating and drowned in a jar of wine (bi-jiu). This idea was apparently down-sized to the red worm (gusano rojo) in tequila when the Spanish explorers exported what they had seen to Mexico (although a new book by retired Royal Navy Captain Gavin Menzies makes a compelling case that the Chinese set up shop in Mexico themselves during the visits of the Ming “Treasure Ships” in 1421-23, 70 years before Columbus).

And in Africa men turned to the bark of the yohimbe tree, which is now a popular natural ED remedy.

In comes Pharma…

So as you can see, the desire to improve sexual performance is as old as sex itself. But the pharmaceutical industry, with the launch of Pfizer’s “little blue pill” (a.k.a. Viagra) has convinced us that this concern is a problem of epidemical proportions.

In fact, they even enlisted the respected, retired Republican Senator Bob Dole to serve as the national spokesman and embark on a national promotional tour in the late 1990s. And this campaign persists today, making it the largest, longest direct-to-consumer drug advertising campaign in history.

“Performance” pills catch lawmakers’ attention

With the sudden innovation of “direct-to-consumer” marketing of modern new drugs and patents— and the expanding customer base buying into the hype—the practice of medicine has been bombarded with such force that state medical boards are busy rewriting the rules to keep up, so to speak. As traditionally trained physicians, from orthopedic surgeons to primary care practitioners, jump onto the ED and low-testosterone bandwagon, lawmakers are rightfully worried.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie’s State Attorney General office is working with the state medical board to draft smart new guidelines for treating ED, low testosterone, and related problems. I have been invited to participate in their expert committee, and am very impressed with the balanced manner in which they are developing professional approaches to protect the consumer. They’re also respecting natural and holistic alternatives, as well as the clinical judgment of legitimate private healthcare practitioners—while avoiding the hand of government from coming down too heavily on the private practice of medicine.

Part of the impetus for this effort was the fact that many government employees were clearly abusing state- sponsored health insurance, obtaining treatments for low testosterone for inappropriate reasons without proper diagnoses—all at taxpayer expense.

I hope more states tackle these problems with the professionalism and foresight now being shown by the leadership in New Jersey.

The solution without a problem

Don’t allow yourself to be convinced that you have a problem requiring potentially dangerous and expensive drugs and hormones. The stress of thoughts like that alone are enough to “get you down!”

Getting older is a fact of life—and generally better than the alternative.

Don’t let pharmaceutical fat cats convince you that aging is a medical condition that requires anti-aging drugs. Instead, embrace healthy aging by following the sensible guidelines provided in Insiders’ Cures, together with regular updates on the genuine new science that comes to light.

If you do want to take a supplement to balance your testosterone levels, go with a balanced approach. For this, let’s come back to a concept I’ve introduced you to before: the truly revolutionary category of supplements called adaptogens.

Adaptogens, like the classic ginseng in the Chinese tradition or Ashwaganda in Indian tradition, do as the name suggests—they help your body adapt to changes. They’re so powerful and can help with so many conditions that I recommend that everyone take them everyday.

A less well-known adaptogen out of South Africa, Sutherlandia frutescens is showing tremendous promise for its overall health and healthy aging benefits.

Any of these choices would be a better option than hopping on the little blue bandwagon. And if all else fails, take a page from ancient Indian medicine and pick up a copy of the Kama Sutra or Tantra. Your partner may thank you for it.