In all cultures, sexual activity is regarded as an important intimate expression of affection between couples. Unfortunately, difficulties in achieving, or sustaining, an erection, is a common problem, and a great source of anguish for many men and their partners In this second article on Erectile Dysfunction, we will look at the treatment of this disorder with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
According to this oriental framework, the physiological process of obtaining an erection involves the accumulation of both Yang Qi (energy), and blood to the penis. The four organs which are involved with this process are: the kidneys, the liver, the spleen and the heart. The male and female genital areas of both sexes are encircled by the liver meridian. Therefore, any dysfunction with that organ, or channel can have a negative impact on our sexual health Also, the dilation of the blood vessels in the erectile issue of the penis, will not occur unless a minimum level of sexual arousal has been obtained. Since it is the kidney’s energy which provides our sexual drive, in the majority of cases regardless of the primary pattern, this organ will have to be strengthened.
In the Western world, the pace of living has significantly increased in the last few decades, and subsequently the rising level of stress in the workforce has taken its toll. Nowadays, the majority of males with Erectile Dysfunction are the overworked professionals. Having to live in a state of anger, and stress for long period of times easily leads to the abuse of alcohol, recreational drugs, junk foods, and excess smoking. These are the major causes of cardio vascular disease which damages the arteries circulating the blood throughout the body, including the sexual organs.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is a correlation between the mind and the body. Each major organ is associated with a specific emotional pattern. The liver is particularly vulnerable to anger, stress and depression. A disharmony in that organ is one of the most common causes of male Erectile Dysfunction. In this pattern, the liver Qi stagnates due to an emotional imbalance, and lack of physical activity, and there is not enough energy to circulate the blood around the channels of the body. The male sex organ is deprived of both nutrients causing the impotence to occur. It is often seen in combination with other digestive problems, irritability, dizziness, and chest pain. The kidney channel can alternatively be affected from internal cold due to poor diet, on local climatic factors. This creates an imbalance in the liver’s function, and the blood circulation is gradually affected. For all these patterns, a dual approach including the use of acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine is recommended. The treatment strategy is aimed at harmonizing the liver, warming the kidneys yang energy, and relieving the blood stagnation which is causing the impotence. Other acupuncture points, or Chinese herbs will be prescribed to nourish the blood, and calm the mind, or in the case of internal heat, to expel that disturbance.
The herb Renshen (Korean Ginseng) has a legendary status in many Asian countries, where it has been traditionally used to prolong life, and improve sexual stamina. It is a powerful tonic which not only increases energy, but is beneficial for relieving stress, although it shouldn’t be taken for long periods of times. For the treatment of impotence, Ginseng is often combined with the herbal substance Lu Rong (Cornu Crevi Parvum) which is scrapped from the velvet of the young deer antlers. It is a powerful Kidney Yang tonic used for treating fatigue, cold lower back, or knee pain from kidney weakness, as well as impotence. It has a warming action, and it increases the blood circulation. If the patient suffers from excess heat, or high blood pressure, cooling herbs such as, Mei Gui Hua (Flos Rosae Rugosae) could be prescribed. It is a local Chinese rose which is often made into medicinal wines or paste. This flower is recognized in both our cultures as a symbol of love and romance. It has a cold action on the body, and an harmonizing effect on the liver organ, being beneficial in relieving the stagnant energy (Qi) in that channel.
If the internal heat is not excessive, the flower bud of the spice clove called Ding Xiang (Flos Caryophylli), is commonly prescribed in Chinese medicine to warm the kidney yang, move the Qi and increase the libido. It has an antibiotic effect, facilitates the digestion, and relieves pain. It is commonly used in Asian countries to relieve toothache. Due to its warming action, the spice clove has for centuries been prescribed in Traditional medicine for enhancing sexual desire, and provoking arousal.
In both the Western and Oriental medical systems, Erectile Dysfunction is considered to be only a reflection of a larger pattern of poor health, and disease in the body.
When the overall condition of the patient is taken into consideration, and treated accordingly, there is ample evidence that the Traditional Chinese medicine’s approach can be very effective in treating this condition which affects the life of so many couples today.