Men with severe erectile dysfunction will probably respond best to one of the big three prescription drugs – Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra. These medications are convenient, safe, and generally very effective. However, these medications do have side effects and cannot be taken by men who take nitroglycerin or other heart medications that lower blood pressure. In addition, some men fear that long-term use may lead to dependence – that is, the inability to get an erection without the use of a pill. Because of these concerns, many men – especially those with mild erectile dysfunction – are seeking a holistic or alternative approach.
One natural alternative that is gaining attention is essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants. Each oil contains a unique mix of active ingredients. Some oils are used to promote physical healing, while others are used for their emotional value. Using essential oils in a bath or massage can relax the whole body and give a sensual experience. Oils can also be inhaled directly or diffused to scent an entire room.
Essential oils have used for thousands of years to relieve pain, alleviate tension, and invigorate the entire body. Many ancient cultures, including the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans, have used aromatherapy massage. Essential oils were also used in cosmetics and perfumes, as well as for spiritual, therapeutic, and ritualistic purposes. In 450 BC, Hippocrates recommended the use of aromatic oils to help patients with rheumatism and arthritis. Later, the Romans became famous for their aromatic bath houses and the use of essential oils as aphrodisiacs. As trade routes expanded, the Romans began importing oils from all over the world.
The science of aromatherapy was founded in 1928 by a French chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé. Gattefossé discovered the healing properties of lavender oil when he applied it to a burn on his hand caused by an explosion in his laboratory. He then began to analyze the chemical properties of essential oils and how they were used to treat burns, skin infections, gangrene, and wounds in soldiers during World War I. By the 1950’s, essential oils were being used by massage therapists, beauticians, and some health care providers. However, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that essential oils became popular in the United States.
Although essential oils work on the body on several different levels, the most obvious is by stimulating the powerful sense of smell. Medical research has shown that the odors we smell have a significant impact on the way we feel. Particular odors have a direct impact on brain activity. For example, the smell of lavender has been shown to increase alpha waves in the back of the head, which are associated with relaxation. The smell of jasmine has been shown to increase beta waves in the front of the head, which are associated with a more alert state. Some people claim that the aromas of certain essential oils cause an increase in arousal.
Other researchers feel that the molecules in essential oils may interact with hormones or enzymes in the blood. Some aromatherapists say that essential oils have the unique ability to “fly” through thick cell walls, feeding your cells with nutrition and oxygen and eliminating harmful toxins.
For men with erectile dysfunction, essential oils seem to be most helpful when the condition is caused by emotional problems such as stress, depression, or performance anxiety. However, some proponents of aromatherapy claim that oils can also help with physical causes such as inflammation or cellular damage in the prostate. Aromatherapy massage is a popular way of using essential oils since it works in several ways at the same time. Your skins absorbs the active ingredients in the oils and you also breathe in the aromas. In addition, you are able to enjoy the physical relaxation of the massage itself.
Among the oils that have been explored for erectile dysfunction are:
- basil – arouses sexual instincts and helps calm nerves
- cardamom – contains aphrodisiac properties, enhances the feelings of sensuality
- cedarwood – balances hormones and calms anxieties related to sexual performance
- clary sage – a highly euphoric and uplifting oil, often used as an aphrodisiac to arouse emotions and decrease inhibitions
- ginger – heats up the libido, melts cold emotions
- rose – contains dopamine, the “happy hormone”, which is excellent for easing stress, calming the nerves, and helping with impotence or frigidity
- sandalwood – acts as a natural aphrodisiac, helps relieve stress, depression, and anxiety
- ylang-ylang – acts as a natural aphrodisiac, improves mood and outlook on life
Essential oils have varying prices and qualities. In general, producing aromatherapy oils is extremely expensive, as large amounts of plant materials are required to produce a very small amount of essential oil. For example, 2000 kg rose petals are needed to produce 1 kg essential oil. A ½ ounce vial of lavender will typically cost between $7 to $15 depending on its purity and where it is produced. However, keep in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated; therefore, a small quantity can last for several months with normal use.
Are essential oils really effective for erectile dysfunction? Although there are many anecdotal reports of amazing results, there is little scientific evidence for the efficacy of essential oils for treating medical conditions such as erectile dysfunction. However, a few clinical studies suggest that aromatherapy may be a helpful complementary therapy. Essential oils can certainly help reduce anxiety, tension, and pain.
Are essential oils safe? In general, essential oils are less likely to cause side effects than most prescription drugs. However, essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Be sure to use the least amount possible (often, only a drop or two at a time). Sometimes people think that if an essential oil comes from a plant, it must be safe. But many plants contain materials that are toxic, irritating, or likely to cause allergic reactions. Fair-skinned or freckled individuals are more likely to experience skin irritation. Oils should always be tested for an allergic reaction and should be diluted before applying to the skin. Oils should not be taken internally and should be kept out of reach of children. In addition, oils are highly flammable and should never be used near an open flame.
Are there any drug interactions with essential oils? Animal studies have suggested that the active ingredients in some essential oils may interact with some medications. For example, eucalyptus may cause pentobarbital and amphetamines to be less effective. Clary sage should not be taken with medications or substances that have an iron base. Many oils should not be taken with alcohol, since they can increase inebriation and cause bad nightmares.
Consumers should be aware that the contents of a product can vary greatly. The same oil produced by different manufacturers can have varying degrees of potency and purity. Some oils contain chemicals, pesticides, and metals. Consumers should also realize that aromatherapy is currently an unregulated and unlicensed field, both for the practice of aromatherapy as well as the manufacture of aromatherapy products.
In conclusion, there has not been enough scientific research to determine if essential oils are an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. Men with severe erectile dysfunction are probably better off seeking a more established therapy. However, men with mild erectile dysfunction or men seeking a complementary therapy are certainly free to experiment with different oils. Especially when erectile dysfunction is caused by stressor anxiety, the soothing properties of essential oils may provide benefits. However, keep in mind that erectile dysfunction may be a symptom of an underlying health issue, so it is important to consult a doctor or healthcare provider.
Source: Home Remedy Central
Source: University of Maryland Medical Center
Source: American Cancer Society
Source: Debbie McFarland, D.C., DiplMedAc