By David Blyweiss, M.D.
Many of my male patients who are over the age of 50 complain that their love life doesn’t sizzle the way it used to. It’s a common problem, but it’s not one conventional science has an answer for. For instance, most men know that those “Little Blue Pills” can help their equipment work better, but they may not realize that erectile dysfunction drugs won’t do a thing for their libido. Worse yet, they come with a bevy of side effects, including sudden vision loss, stroke or painful four-hour erections? Luckily, research shows that dietary changes and supplements can help rescue a lagging libido.
It’s not unusual for both men and women to lose some of their interest in sex as they age, largely due to fluctuations in their sex hormones. Men lose up to two percent of libido-boosting testosterone every year as they approach age 40, and women see fluctuations in estrogen as they head toward menopause. But several studies suggest both men and women with low levels of the testosterone precursor DHEA can improve sex drive by supplementing with 50 to 100 mg. of DHEA daily. Losing weight—specifically a couple inches off the waist—also triggers a significant shift in hormone production that favors your libido and also improves blood flow to the genital area.
You can also support healthy desire, not to mention overall energy, with acetyl-L-carnitine. My patients who take 1,000 to 2,000 mg. a day have found it to be a very effective libido lifter. Since vitamin C is responsible for producing carnitine in the body, supplementing with 500 to 1,000 mg. of vitamin C in conjunction with carnitine may increase the amino acid’s effects. American ginseng also boosts your energy levels and reduces fatigue. Plus, recent studies suggest that taking a daily dose of 1,000 to 2,000 mg. of ginseng enhances nitric oxide which, in turn, increases blood flow.
While these measures can give a boost to both your libido and your performance, there are times when a long-term strategy isn’t enough. If you need a more rapid response, try Tribulus terrestris. Commonly called horny goat weed, the Chinese have used this herb for centuries as a remedy for low libido and other sexual disorders. The key is a phytochemical called protodioscin. Protodioscin has been shown by clinical studies to increase the level of both DHEA and testosterone in men.
A clinical study on fifteen men with decreased sexual performance showed that nearly 90 percent of men treated with 500 mg. of protodioscin three times a day for 60 days experienced improved libido, erection, ejaculation and orgasm. In another clinical trial, 60 non-diabetic men with and without erectile dysfunction and 15 diabetic men with sexual performance problems were given 250 mg. of protodioscin for just three weeks. The study found that, in addition to increased DHEA levels in the treated group, the frequency of successful intercourse increased by 60 percent. Plus, the men taking the Tribulus had an improved sense of well-being, as well as improved sensation, erection, ejaculation and orgasm. And unlike pharmaceuticals, there weren’t any unwanted side effects. The typical daily dosage of Tribulus is 250-750 mg. But, be sure to choose an extract standardized for at least 30-45 percent steroidal saponins.
Lastly, I always tell patients that a healthy heart equals healthy sex. If you want to improve your libido, do what it takes to lower your heart disease risk and you will get your groove back. A heart-healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables combined with regular exercise is a good starting place to keep your ticker in top shape and improve your sex life for years to come.
- Adimoelja A. Protodioscin from herbal plant Tribulus terrestris L improves the male sexual functions, probably via DHEA. International Journal of Impotence Research. 1997:9; Supp. 1.
- Mendivil Dacal JM. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), review of its efficiency in the managing of the libido decrease and other symtoms of aging. Actas Urol Esp. 2009;33:390-401.
- Wang X. Ginsenoside Rg1 Improves Male Copulatory Behavior Via Nitric Oxide/Cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate Pathway. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2009 Sep 14. [Epub ahead of print]