There are many treatment options available for ED; however, these largely include expensive medications that have unwanted side effects. Some of the most common issues associated with ED medications include priapism (lasting erection), vision and/or hearing loss, muscle pain, headaches and impaired kidney or liver function. Due to these downsides, scientists have begun exploring potential alternative treatments for ED which are derived from natural sources.
In a recent study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University in China reported the positive effects of a natural medicine made using functional foods on ED. They discovered that the combined extracts from Lepidium meyenii (maca) root and Allium tuberosum (Chinese chives) seeds -- foods that can enhance sexual function, according to studies -- can improve sexual performance and behavior in mice.
According to the researchers, the bioactivities of maca and Chinese chives are well-documented. While literature regarding the ability of maca to enhance sexual function abound, the use of Chinese chives seeds for treating impotence is also widespread in traditional Chinese medicine. But despite the large amount of evidence from studies, their effects on male sexual function when combined has not yet been investigated.
For their study, the researchers gave male mice either maca root extract, Chinese chives seed extract or a combination of both for 14 days. They then observed the animals' sexual behavior during the treatment period and measured serum testosterone, nitric oxide (NO) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) levels in the mice's serum and penis. They also took note of the weight of the mice's genitals.
The researchers reported that the combination of maca root and Chinese chives seed extracts increased ejaculation frequency much better than either extracts. It also improved sexual behavior in the mice and increased both serum and penis NO levels, as well as cGMP levels in the penis.
NO plays an important role in male sexual behavior as its release is crucial for an erection. Specifically, the production of NO by nerves and endothelial cells activates signaling pathways that lead to an increase in cGMP, which then triggers the relaxation of smooth muscles in the penis. This allows the organ to be filled with blood and become erect.
The researchers concluded that the combination of maca root and Chinese chives seed extract produces better synergistic effects on male sexual function than treatment with either extract alone. (Related: African basil is a potent natural treatment for men with erectile dysfunction.)
Maca is a medicinal plant grown in the Andes mountains in Peru. Today, it is a popular health supplement commonly added to meals and smoothies, and comes in powder or capsule forms. According to studies, maca root offers plenty of health benefits, such as:
In China, chives are part of the daily diet and are also cultivated for their medicinal uses. Also known as garlic chives, they are a great source of fiber, beta-carotene, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C. Chinese chives are used in Chinese medicine to treat the following:
Chinese chives also help boost the immune system, increase energy levels and promote healthy digestion.