Blood Pressure Drugs and ED Go Hand in Hand, but there is a Natural Alternative

Susanna Sisson's picture
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Blood pressure drugs are one factor in erectile dysfunction (ED) but other factors such as smoking, overweight, diabetes, other drugs, and anxiety have an adverse effect on sexual function. In some men, ED may have been an occasional issue before starting blood pressure medications due to one or more other factors. The presence and degree of ED may be related to the type of blood pressure medication and while ED isn’t always a given, in most cases blood pressure drugs and ED go hand in hand, but there is a natural alternative.

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Many recreational and abused drugs as well as pharmaceutical drugs used to treat high blood pressure can cause ED yet only 25% of ED is estimated to be caused by pharmaceutical drugs.

In fact, researchers conducted a study to determine if knowledge and prejudice about side effects of beta-blockers would increase the incidence of ED. Three groups of male patients were given the beta-blocker atenolol (Tenormin). Group (A) simply received the drug but did not know what they were taking or side effects. Group (B) was told the name of the drug but not side effects. Group (C) knew the drug, purpose, and side effects. After three months the incidence of ED in the three groups was as follows: group A 3.1%, group B 15.6% and group C 31.2%.

The researchers concluded that prior knowledge of the drug name, purpose and side effects can cause anxiety and cause ED. Many men worry about a diagnosis of heart disease or high blood which can directly affect their sexual ability. Their results were published in the European Heart Journal in November 2003.

Typically when physicians diagnose high blood pressure they begin with one classification of medications. If that trial is unsuccessful they may add one or more other drugs until blood pressure is under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to many other health issues including heart attack or heart failure, aortic dissection, pulmonary edema, stroke or other neurological issues such as lack of concentration and memory loss, damage to the kidneys, permanent damage to the eyes and sexual dysfunction. Yet some of the drugs used to treat high blood pressure can also have devastating effects including ED.

A handful of physicians like Dr. Richard W. Smalling, MD, PhD, professor and James D. Woods Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine, take into account when treating high blood pressure that not all drugs are effective in all people and their side effects can alter quality of life and function.

“My patients know I am willing and able to go the ‘extra mile’ to do the best to make them better,” says Smalling, who has been named an America’s Top Doctor for the past seven years. His willingness to go the ‘extra mile’ means he has been known to suggest the addition or substitution of a natural alternative such as L-arginine in treating his patients.

Smalling’s out of the box thinking may be due to his extensive experience in many fields. He holds a B.S degree in Aerospace Engineering and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a core biomedical focus from the University of Texas-Austin, Doctor of Medicine from the University of Texas-Houston Medical School and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences – Houston. He holds multiple patents and positions including Adjoint Professor, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute and Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical School – Houston.

What is L-arginine?

L-arginine is an essential amino acid that helps make proteins and it is a precursor in of nitric oxide (NO) in the body, a chemical that is important in relaxing blood vessels so oxygen rich blood can circulate.

Benefits of Arginine in Erectile Dysfunction

Adequate amounts of L-arginine and therefore NO help prevent or may reverse erectile dysfunction due to high blood pressure by improving healthy blood flow to the arteries of the penis. Alone or when combined with pycnogenol, a derivative from pine bark, this amino acid can be an effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical blood pressure drugs. Other sources include peanut skins and grape seed.

Another study with arginine and yohimbe found the combination to be beneficial in sexual dysfunction. Arginine can be used in men and women who experience low libido or sexual dysfunction or who cannot achieve orgasm. Arginine is available commercially as a vaginal lubricant and sexual enhancer cream.

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Other benefits of Arginine and Nitric Oxide (NO)
Mohammed Gad, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, The German University in Cairo –Egypt has reviewed the health benefits of arginine in the Journal of Advanced Research, Volume 1, Issue 3, July 2010, Pages 169–177

Neurological – Improved learning and memory and potential decrease in stroke risk due to improved circulation.

Cardiovascular – Adequate amounts of arginine help control blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels which may also reduce may reduce chest pain and helps reduce atherosclerosis.

Musculoskeletal – A lack of protein in the diet and subsequently a lack of arginine may cause decreased muscle mass. Supplementing with arginine along with exercise can increase muscle mass.

Anti-aging – People who are deficient in arginine age faster. You need adequate amounts of protein and arginine to prevent thinning of skin.

Integumentary – In addition to arginine’s ability to induce thickening of the skin, people with adequate amounts of arginine exhibit increased microcirculation and improved wound healing including damage from burns.

Endocrine – Arginine and NO play a role in improvement of insulin sensitivity and are involved in the release of pancreatic insulin and glucagon and pituitary prolactin as well as human growth hormone (HGH).

Gastrointestinal – Arginine and NO have been shown to improve gastric ulcer healing.

Immunological - L-arginine enhanced natural-killer (NK) and lymphokine-activated-killer (LAK) cell activity and is considered an anti-oxidant.

Pulmonary – One study indicated that inhaled arginine is a pulmonary dilator and may be useful in treatment of pulmonary vasoconstriction in patients with cystic fibrosis.

Anxiety – studies show arginine can help reduce anxiety.

Sexual function – in addition to improved libido in both men and women and in the treatment of ED, arginine and NO are used in the enhancement of sperm mobility and viability, and treatment of interstitial cystitis.

The good news for both men and women is that although blood pressure drugs and ED go hand in hand there is a natural alternative so that life and love do not have to suffer. Physicians should think out of the box and consider recommending arginine for patients with high blood pressure.

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