Printed in The American Journal of Natural Medicine, November 1994, Vol. 1, No. 3, Page 8
Yohimbine vs. Muira puama in the treatment of erectile dysfunction
The term "impotence" has traditionally been used to signify the inability of the male to attain and maintain erection of the penis sufficient to permit satisfactory sexual intercourse. Impotence, in most circumstances, is more precisely referred to as e
rectile dysfunction as this term differentiates itself from loss of libido, premature ejaculation, or inability to achieve orgasm.
An estimated 10 to 20 million men suffer from erectile dysfunction. This number is expected to increase dramatically as the median age of the population increases. Currently, erectile dysfunction is thought to affect over 25% of men over the age of 50.
Although the frequency of erectile dysfunction increases with age, it must be stressed that ageing itself is not a cause of impotence. Although the amount and force of the ejaculate as well as the need to ejaculate decrease with age, the capacity for er
ection is retained. Men are capable of retaining their sexual virility well into their 80's.
Erectile dysfunction may be due to organic or psychogenic factors. In the overwhelming majority of cases the cause is organic, i.e., it is due to some physiological reason. In fact, in men over the age of 50, organic causes are responsible fro erectile
dysfunction in of 90%. In the past, a man with impotence who was able to have nighttime or early morning erections was thought to have psychogenic impotence. However, it is mow recognized that this is not a reliable indicator.
The only FDA approved medicine for impotence is yohimbine - an alkaloid isolated from the bark of the yohimbe tree (Pausinystalia yohimbe) native to tropical West Africa. Yohimbine hydrochloride increases libido, but its primary action is to increase b
lood flow to erectile tissue. Yohimbine is a selective alpha-2 receptor antagonist. Contrary to a popular misconception, yohimbine has no effect on testosterone levels.
When used alone, yohimbine is successful in 34% to 43% of cases. It is effective in both psychogenic and organic cause of impotence. The standard dose of yohimbine is 15 to 20 mg per day, however, higher doses, up to 42 mg of yohimbine, may prove to be
To illustrate the benefits to be expected in clinical practice, let's examine the results from one of the more recent double-blind studies. In the study, 82 men with erectile dysfunction selected from a Veterans Administration population with a high inc
idence of diabetes and vascular disease underwent a multifactorial evaluation, including a determination of penile brachial blood pressure index, caver nosography, sacral evoked response, testosterone and prolactin determination, sexual dysfunction and a
After one month of treatment with the maximum of 42.0 mg oral yohimbine hydrocholride daily 14% of the patients experienced restoration of full and sustained erections. 20% reported a partial response to the therapy and 65% reported no improvement. In
comparison, only three patients reported a positive effect in the placebo group. Maximum effect with yohimbine takes two to three weeks to manifest itself. Yohimbine was active in some patients with arterial insufficiency and a unilateral sacral reflex
arc lesion, and in one with low serum testosterone levels. The 34% response is somewhat encouraging given the study population.
Side effects often make yohimbine very difficult to utilize. Yohimbine can induce anxiety, panic attacks, and hallucinations in some individuals. Other side effects include elevations in blood pressure, and heart rate, dizziness, headache, and skin flus
hing. Yohimbine should not be used in individuals with psychological disturbances.
Although crude yohimbe bark preparations are available commercially, use of pure yohimbine hydrochloride is preferred. There are no commercial sources of yohimbe bark that are available to physicians or in health food stores which actually state the le
vel of yohimbine per dosage. Without knowing the content of yohimbine, it is virtually impossible to prescribe an effective and consistent dosage. Because of the yohimbine content of yohimbe bark, the FDA classifies yohimbe as an unsafe herb.
Preliminary research indicates one of the best herbs to use for erectile dysfunction or lack of libido may be Muira puama (also known as potency wood). This shrub is native to Brazil and has long been used as a powerful aphrodisiac and nerve stimulant i
n South American folk medicine. A recent study has validated its safety and effectiveness in improving libido and sexual function in some patients.
At the Institute of Sexology in Paris, France, under the supervision of one of the world's foremost authorities on sexual function, Dr. Jacques Waynberg, a clinical study with 262 patients complaining of lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain
or maintain an erection demonstrated Muira puama extract to be effective in many cases Within two weeks, at a daily dose of 1 to 1.5 grams of the extract (4:1), 62% of patients with loss of libido claimed that the treatment had dynamic effect while 5
1% of patients with "erection failures" felt that Muira puama was of benefit. These results are extremely promising and seem to indicate that Muira puama may provide better results than yohimbine without side effects.
Presently, the mechanism of action of Muira puama is unknown, From the preliminary information, it appears that it works on enhancing both psychological and physical aspects of sexual function. Future research will undoubtably shed additional light on t
his extremely promising herb for erectile dysfunction.
Printed in the 1993 GAIA SYMPOSIUM PROCEEDINGS, NATUROPATHIC HERBAL MEDICINE, "Herbal Healing Wisdom for the Future" May 29-31, 1993
Muira puama, a.k.a. potency wood (Ptychopetalum olacoides), is a shrub native to Brazil that has long been used as a powerful aphrodisiac and nerve stimulant in folk medicine. A recent clinical study has validated its safety and effectiveness in impr
oving libido and sexual function in men.
At the Institute of Sexology in Paris, France, a clinical study with 262 patients complaining of lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain or maintain an erection demonstrated Muira puama extract (4:1) to be effective in many cases. Within two w
eeks, at a daily dose of 1 to 1.5 grams of extract, 62% of patients with loss of libido claimed that the treatment had dynamic effect while 51% of patients with "erection failures" felt that Muira puama was of benefit.
Presently, the mechanism of action of Muira puama is unknown. Future research will undoubtedly shed additional light on this extremely promising herb for impotence.