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Thursday, July 14, 2011

More on Herbal Supplements for Erection Enhancement

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In April, I answered a question about using herbal supplements, such as ginseng or yohimbe, for erection enhancement (read this column here). I referred interested readers who wanted to learn more to Milwaukee Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Services, where Jaret Sahr works with patients on these issues. I was able to talk further to Sahr, who is a licensed acupuncturist with a Master of Science in Oriental medicine, about such supplements.

Sahr says, "Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at the whole person and chooses herbals based on the TCM diagnosis, rather than herbs for specific functional problems. This makes it harder to make a general statement [about using specific herbs for erection enhancement]. For ginseng to work wonderfully, you would need a deficiency in Qi [which is viewed in TCM as "life force" or "energy flow"]. If you have a deficiency in another aspect of health, you would only see modest [improvement]. Also, there are different types of ginseng with different qualities: American, Chinese, Korean and Siberian (which is not really ginseng). The health function [of each type] varies a lot according to where it was grown and when it was harvested, and the way it was processed changes the therapeutic effect."

For readers who may be looking for a boost, Sahr recommends taking Wisconsin-grown American ginseng, both because of its high quality and because it supports local farmers. Did you know that Wisconsin produces some of the highest-quality ginseng in the world? It's true! Kind of cool.

Regarding yohimbe, Sahr does not recommend or use it often, because it can interact with other medications or supplements, especially at high dosages.

"Both [ginseng and yohimbe] are popular and can be faked, so there might be huge differences in potencies and qualities from brand to brand," Sahr notes. "If you had a yohimbe pill from one company, and then take two from another company, you might not be getting twice the dosage. It could be less or a lot, lot more. I only buy herbals from suppliers that can prove the species of herb that they send me is correct and without contamination. The downside of being careful is that [higher-quality supplements] cost more."

As I noted in my previous column, there's no "quick fix" for erection enhancement or any other types of sexual functioning issues, whether you're taking a supposedly natural herbal supplement or the hundreds of different pills or shots sold at porn stores and gas stations. None of these products are regulated the way pharmaceutical products are, so use with caution, tell your health care provider about any supplements you are taking, and don't expect miracles.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.


Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.

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