Ginseng and Impotence

Ginseng, Yohimbe and other herbs for impotence and sexual function.

Question: Dear Mr. Goldberg, I have seen reports on the internet but wanted to consult an expert . . . Do you recommend Ginseng for impotence? If yes, is only panax ginseng recommended? If yes, how many milligrams do you recommend a day if I prefer caplets. Are the drops better? If so, how much do you recommend a day? . . .

Answer: Panax ginseng is indeed the type traditionally recommended for this purpose, although other forms of ginseng, especially American, are now being used as well. The choice of liquid or capsule is a personal one. Capsules can more easily be standardized, but liquids have the advantage of being self-sterilizing, readily bio-available, and potentially more potent due to the extraction process.

That said, dosage remains an inexact science due to lack of product to product standardization and controlled clinical trials. I suggest you avoid products that are claimed to be super potent at one extreme, and potentially weak (teas, “whole food” concentrates, etc) at the other extreme. Stick with reputable brands.

I can recommend the following:
Liquid: Willner Chemists Phyto-Tech Chinese Red Ginseng, Code 57023, 1 fl oz
Capsules: Nature’s Way, Korean Ginseng Extract Standardized, Code 29725, 60 Vcaps
Capsules: Solgar, Korean Ginseng Extract Standardized, Code 28297, 60 Vcaps

Now, the question, do I recommend ginseng for impotence? I think it is important, first, to get a medical evaluation of the problem, and try to identify any underlying causes. Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb, and the Panax form is known to be invigorating, anti-stress, increasing vitality and energy, etc. A full description is providfed in our Phyto-Tech Herbal Supplement Reference Guide, on page 34 in the Summer catalog. Thus, it’s benefit in treating impotence, even if indirect, is obvious. Whether or not ginseng, alone, will solve the problem, however, is problematic.

I think a more comprehensive approach is usually necessary. This starts with a good multivitamin multimineral supplement, such as Willvite.

There are many other supplements that have been shown to be of value relative to concerns about sexual function, libido, etc. Many companies have combination products designed specifically for this purpose:

The product Male Virility (Phyto-Tech Code 57731, 1 fl oz) is a good example. Phyto-Tech™ Male Virility contains Maca Root 97 mg, Epimedium Herb 75 mg, Fresh Wild Oat Seed 75 mg, Tribulus Seed 75 mg, Yohimbe Bark 50 mg, Saw Palmetto Berry 17 mg, American Ginseng Root 17 mg, Vitamin B12 60 mcg, L-Arginine 20 mg, Pine Park Extract 5 mg. More detail can be found on page 71 in the summer catalog.

On that same page, you will find information on a study titled “Fenugreek and Sexual Function.” This is an impressive study, and the use of fenugreek should definitely be considered for this condition. (Willner Chemists Phyto-Tech Fenugreek liquid extract, Code: 57081). “. . . doctors said this is the first published study of fenugreek seed extract and male hormone deficiency, and that fenugreek may help improve sexual function in aging men.” (For more information, read about it here: http://www.willner.com/article.aspx?artid=363)

Another herb to consider is Maca Root. “A native Peruvian herb, Maca’s traditional use for enhancing overall vigor and fertility has been confirmed by animal studies showing it promotes libido, sexual potency and energy.” Maca Root is available as a liquid extract, 1 fl oz (500 mg per 30 drops), Phyto-Tech Prod Code: 57076.

Another adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha, has been shown effective as well, and I suspect the mechanism could be very similar to that of ginseng. The new study reveals this herb boosts sexual desire and satisfaction in women as well as men.
In India, Ayurvedic doctors have long used ashwagandha to treat sexual dysfunction in men and women. In this study, 50 healthy, sexually active women age 21 to 50 who reported having sexual difficulties, took 300 mg of ashwagandha twice per day, or a placebo.

After eight weeks, compared to placebo, women taking ashwagandha reported greater improvement in physical and emotional measures including arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction.

Discussing the findings, doctors said earlier studies had found ashwagandha helped improve sexual function in men, but that this is the first placebo controlled trial to demonstrate significant positive effects on sexual function in women. Ashwagandha is a calming agent; an “adaptogen,” doctors explained, that promotes body balance, particularly by increasing or decreasing key hormones to bring them to appropriate levels.
PhytoTech Ashwagandha Root 1:1.5 (1 fluid ounce, product code: 57008)

Finally, I will mention another herb well known for its effect on treating impotence. Yohimbe Bark. In the case of yohimbe, the problem is perhaps that it is too effective–preparations consisting of the active ingredient, yohimbine, is actually a drug. In response to a question from one of our customers about the yohimbe bark contained in Male Virility, I provided the following information:

“ . . . here is the answer to your question about the product, Male Virility and one of it’s ingredients, yohimbe bark.

“First, some important information. “Yohimbe” is the name of a plant (an evergreen tree). The bark of this tree contains, among other things, an indole alkaloid, “yohimbine.” Yohimbine, in its isolated, standardized form, is available as a drug, while yohimbe or yohime bark, is a plant or herbal supplement that contains a small amount of naturally occuring yohimbine.

It is important to note that almost all (if not all) clinical trials and/or reports of toxicity and side-effects are associated with “yohimbine,” not “yohimbe.”

“While this does not mean it is impossible for the very small amount of actual yohimbine present in the small amount of yohimbe bark present in Male Virility to exert pharmacological action, it is unlikely that this level will lead to noticeable side effects or drug interactions. More on this in a moment.

“The other factor to take into consideration is that in a product like Male Virility, yohimbe bark is only one ingredient among many and the effect of the product is dependent upon the synergistic effect of this combination of ingredients, not on one ingredient alone.

While some of what Consumer Reports presents in their annual anti-supplement issue is helpful and valid, they do the public a disservice by over emphasizing the supposed dangers of supplements. I think you realize that.

“Now, getting back to your concerns, you are correct to question whether or not a supplement that might contribute, either in a positive or negative way, to the same health conditions you are currently taking medication for (anti-depressants, hypertension, etc). You should ask your doctor and/or your pharmacist. To make sure you receive a meaninful reply, however, you should be careful to point out that you have taken the product in the past, with no noticeable side effects, and have no side effects now. You should point out that the product contains only a small amount of “yohimbe bark,” not “yohimbine.” Ideally, show the doctor the full label.

“Unfortunately, many doctors are unfamiliar with herbal therapies, and try to cover up their lack of knowledge with a knee-jerk rejection of such products. I hope you will not encounter that in this instance because yohimbine is a long-used, well studied and well recognized substance.”

Yohimbe Bark is available as a stand alone product in the Willner Chemists Phyto-Tech line (Code: 57009) I am going to provide a copy of the monograph for your reference:

Yohimbe Bark 1:3
Yohimbe Bark is a well known treatment form male impotence and is traditionally used as an aphrodisiac.
Who might benefit from this herbal supplement? Those men suffering from impotence and inability to perform.
Yohimbe is for impotence in men. It increases blood flow into the penis and can help sustain an erection. It can help men who cannot get an erection and for those who cannot maintain an erection. Constant use of Yohimbe, however, can create irritability and aggravate the prostate. Try to not use it more than a few days in a row. It is possible to have success if used the day results are desired. If the impotence is not a vascular problem, Yohimbe will not work. If stress is a related issue, add Kava Kava Root.
Phyto-Tech™ Yohimbe Bark 1:3 is a tincture of Yohimbe Bark (Pausinystalia yohimbe), in pure grain alcohol and deionized water. It provided 333 mg/ml (30 drops).
More potent preparations, typically containing higher, standardized levels of the alkaloid yohimbine, are available, but these products are best used only under the supervision of a physician. High doses of the yohimbine alkaloid can cause potentially dangerous side effects.
Yohimbe bark (not yohimbine alkaloid) has a long history of use for many conditions.
The following dosage for Phyto-Tech™ Yohimbe Bark 1:3 is recommended: For chronic impotence, take 15-30 drops 2-3 times daily, or as needed, in juice or water. For more immediate results, take 20-40 drops, once or twice, only, within a day’s time.
Cautions: Use caution if you have high blood pressure; do not use if you have chronic inflammation of reproductive organs or prostate; do not use long term; may potentiate pharmaceutical MAO-inhibitors;
1 fl oz, Prod Code: 57009

Don Goldberg

About Don Goldberg

Hello. I am what you might call a Nutritional Pharmacist. After college, I worked in the Pharmaceutical and Nutritional Industry, first in Quality Control, and then in Manufacturing and Product Development. Increasingly, as the years passed, I became more involved with nutritional supplements. I spent many years detailing physicians, herbalists, and homeopaths about nutritional and herbal therapies and products. In 1992, along with my friend Arnie Gitomer, I bought Willner Chemists, a well-established nutritionally oriented pharmacy. For the first time, I had an opportunity to communicate directly with the consumer, the patient, and the customer. I love it. This blog is an additional way for me to extend my personal views and opinions directly to you. You can also hear me on the radio, every Sunday, from 2 to 4 pm on WOR radio in NY (710 AM), or WGKA in Atlanta (920 AM). Or check our website, www.willner.com.
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