Viagra and its Natural Substitute

On Valentine’s Day, an ad was aired on CNN, ESPN by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The ad, titled “Room 103,” depicts a hotel room and a couple whose romance comes to a crashing halt because of failure to perform. The camera pans to the remains of what the couple had for dinner: a meat-heavy, high-fat dinner. The ad ends with the tag line, “Eating meat contributes to artery blockages—and that can make you impotent.”

How many older men perked up when they read about Viagra? For a few years it became the best selling “medicine” in the world. Now its popularity is down with so many people getting sick with headaches and upset stomachs and dying of heart attacks and strokes after using and misusing it. Over 700 men have died while using Viagra in the U.S. alone. Other side effects are a stuffy nose and heartburn, visual disturbances, hypersensitivity to light.  Viagra cannot be taken by patients who take nitrates for coronary heart disease — angina, blocked arteries to the heart.

What does Viagra do? It simply releases nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to open allowing more blood to flow in. Anything interfering with blood circulation leads to dysfunction; After all if I stop blood circulation to my finger, it will also not be able to move. The body is a machine run by blood. Foods that is high in carbohydrates and the wrong kinds of fats block up arteries. If the blood vessels cannot carry the blood/oxygen properly because they are narrower and full of fat, then the body starts breaking down. And, just as blockages in the arteries to the heart can cause a heart attack and choked-off blood to the brain can lead to a stroke, when the arteries to the genitals are clogged, that part of the body will not work  well either.  Diseases that cause artheroscleosis or hardening of the arteries include high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. By age 60, this affects one in four Western men – 70 million men of them. While the problem starts at the age of 40 it is certainly not inevitable with aging, even into the 70s and 80s.

These artery blockages that cause dysfunction are strongly linked to a meat centric diet that causes the arteries to harden, increases the cholesterol so that the blood pressure increases and plays an important role in diabetes creation. They can be prevented, and even reversed, by changes in diet and lifestyle. Breakthrough research at the University of California-San Francisco showed that a combination of a low-fat vegetarian diet, moderate exercise, stress management, and no smoking lets the arteries begin to clean themselves out in 82 % of patients. Many of the other factors like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, can also be influenced by a menu change. Side effects from various medications are another root cause of impotence. In fact, two of the worst culprits are blood pressure pills and cholesterol-lowering drugs, both problems usually caused by meat eating and prescribed for conditions that could be dramatically improved by a vegetarian diet. With the right food and exercise, many men can cut back on, and even discontinue, drug therapy.

So many men believe that they can eat badly, smoke and drink and then pop a blue pill. But Viagra does not work for 20 – 40 % of its takers. Some end up dead or in hospital. Viagra doesn’t solve the problems of blocked arteries and high blood pressure. That can only be done with dietary and lifestyle changes. Not only do low-fat vegetarian diets help prevent heart disease, colon cancer, obesity, stroke, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and gallstones but they also can prevent prostate problems, a major worry for older men. Indeed, the right diet can turn down the hormonal stimulation of the prostate and prevent both prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.

So many men look for “natural herbs” to solve their problem.  Let us look at these “herbal” alternatives.

Arginine which causes acidity and ulcers and increases the reproduction of viruses, L Arginine which alters potassium levels in the body. The Chinese herb Gingko which causes blood thinning and bleeding in the skull, Indian ones like Ashwagandha which are sedatives. Damiana from Mexico and Pygeum from Africa which contain compounds similar to cyanide . The African  yohimbe, a prescription drug for impotence whose side effects include dizziness, anxiety, hyperstimulation, and nausea, a severe drop in blood pressure, abdominal pain, fatigue, hallucinations, and paralysis.

Some of these herbs are just general toners of the body – not aphrodisiacs in the slightest. But as the body feels better so does the libido. Siberian ginseng is a general health enhancer, lycium berries and lotus seeds help the kidney and liver. Suma, a vine from South America, relieves stress and fights infection. Ginkgo biloba helps to improve blood flow throughout the body, especially for diabetics. Muira Puama , a herb from Brazil , increases overall circulation as does Yohimbe. Many of these herbs are just cholesterol decreasers- which just proves my point.

So what starts with the same V letter, costs little money, has no side effects  and makes a man feel younger ? Vegetables. The word itself comes from vegetus meaning full of life.

Avoid meat, fish and hydrogenated oils in baked, fried and fast food. These lead to obesity and clog up the circulatory pathway.  A diet that’s high in vegetables ,whole grains such as brown rice, protein sources such as pumpkin seeds, which are very high in zinc (especially healthy for men) and soya products such as tofu  will help increase overall wellness, decrease the fatty deposition that can block the arteries and veins . All you need is fresh, green leafy vegetable- high fibre cereal – fruit – beans- lentils to feel young again.

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