Most people don’t want to talk about it, but male sexual dysfunction is more common than you might think.
In fact, the National Health Service estimates that one in ten men is suffering from a sex-related problem.
One of these problems is erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition usually associated with older men. By the time a man turns 40, the likelihood of erectile dysfunction significantly increases.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the probability of ED increases from 12% in men younger than 60 to 30% in men older than 70 years.
There are several factors that can cause ED, both physical and psychological, but the primary reason is insufficient blood flow to the penis.
Things like high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension can constrict the blood vessels. Due to this, the blood can no longer enter the penile spongy muscles, resulting in a flaccid penis.
Drugs like Viagra and Cialis may be the most popular drugs prescribed for erectile dysfunction but they only work temporarily. These drugs do not really address the main cause of the problem, which is poor blood circulation.
As more and more people are shifting to a natural approach to treating erectile dysfunction, a lot of “natural” supplements with dubious effects are also starting to flood the market.
Fortunately, authentic solutions do exist. There are compounds that are naturally-occurring, effective, and cure the root of the problem like – Pycnogenol and L-arginine.
Pycnogenol is a supplement made from the pine bark extract of a pine tree variety known as Pinus pinaster. Its medicinal properties were first discovered in the 1950s in southwest France, hence its name French maritime pine bark.
Since then, Pycnogenol has become the focus of scientific research, particularly on its circulation-enhancing ability.
So how does Pycnogenol help cure erectile dysfunction?
Pycnogenol contains procyanidin, a compound abundant in grapes, cocoa beans, green tea, and pine bark tree. It’s a powerful antioxidant, even more potent than vitamin E and vitamin C.
Using grapes as an example, research shows that procyanidin improves blood circulation by strengthening the body’s arteries and veins.
Such cardioprotective effect helps reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of hypertension and stroke. Additionally, since it’s also an antioxidant, procyanidin can slow the effects of aging and keep the body in top condition.
However, good blood circulation alone is not enough to induce an erection. The smooth muscles of the penis must relax first for the blood to flow.
When the muscles relax, the blood vessels “open” and allow blood to fill the spongy tissue of the penis, making it hard and engorged. According to a study conducted in 2001, the primary factor in penile muscle relaxation is nitric oxide.
This is where Pycnogenol comes in. A daily dose of 100 mg of Pycnogenol contains enough procyanidin to significantly increase nitric oxide levels in the blood.
The procyanidin actually boosts blood circulation to the penis while also stimulating nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide then relaxes the smooth muscles to enable blood to flow to the penis, making it hard and erect.
Aside from Pycnogenol, another natural and effective way to induce erections is through the use of L-arginine.
L-arginine is considered a “conditionally essential” amino acid. This means that while the body normally produces L-arginine, there are certain conditions that require the body to need “help” from another substance to synthesize L-arginine.
Similar to Pycnogenol, L-arginine is also associated with improving nitric oxide levels. But unlike Pycnogenol, L-arginine doesn’t just stimulate nitric oxide production. In fact, L-arginine itself is the source of nitric oxide.
With the help of an enzyme, L-arginine is converted into nitric oxide. As a result, L-arginine is popularly known as a vasodilator because it dilates or “opens” the blood vessels to make blood flow easier.
Various studies have already proven the health benefits of L-arginine. A research conducted in 1998 uncovered the correlation of L-arginine with plasma concentrations in human blood. However, their study was still inconclusive and needed further studies.
The supporting evidence came in 2011 when another study found out that oral supplements containing L-arginine can significantly lower blood pressure. These results established the function of L-arginine in the blood and suggest that L-arginine may be used as a treatment for hypertension.
L-arginine can be obtained through a protein-rich diet. Red meat, beans, grains, and dairy products are good sources of L-arginine. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach are also rich in L-arginine.
However, it is important to note that the body cannot utilize all of its L-arginine intake. That’s why it’s recommended to take the amino acid with another supplement to boost its effectiveness.
And the best supplement to pair with L-arginine is Pycnogenol.
Now that the individual merits and health benefits of both Pycnogenol and L-arginine have been established, it is time to go into how these two compounds can treat erectile dysfunction.
In a conclusive research published in the Journal for Sex and Marital Therapy in 2003, 40 men aged between 25 and 45 years old were given L-arginine and Pycnogenol supplements during a three-month trial period.
During the first month, the patients took 1.7 grams of L-arginine daily. After the first month, the researchers reported that only 5% of the patients experienced an improvement in their erections.
In the second month, two 40-mg Pycnogenol tablets were added to their daily L-arginine supplement. By the third month, researchers increased the patients’ Pycnogenol dosage to three 40-mg Pycnogenol tablets in addition to the L-arginine supplement.
Using the sexual function questionnaire and diaries where the patients recorded their sexual activities, the researchers found out that the number of men who had normal erections increased to 80% in the second month.
By the end of the treatment period, an astounding 92.5% of the men reported experiencing better erections.
The study further concludes that apart from the oral administration of L-arginine and Pycnogenol being effective in treating erectile dysfunction, the compounds also do not have any side effects.
These studies exploring the use of pycnogenol and l-arginine for erectile dysfunction, gave dosages of 1.7 grams of L-Arginine daily along with 2 - 40 mg doses of Pycnogenol.
While there is a significant amount of evidence that proves that L-arginine and Pycnogenol can effectively function as help for ED, it’s still best to talk with a doctor.
ED cases can have other underlying causes, and only a doctor can offer the ED treatment options that best suits your condition.