An embarrassment for many men at one time or another, erectile dysfunction is a condition where a man is incapable of getting and/or sustaining an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. While sporadic inability to get an erection is a common experience, the Western medical industry considers such an inability a medical condition if they suffer from this occurrence at least 50-percent of the time they engage in a sexual act.
Since gaining an erection is the result of the body’s blood vessels, nerves, muscles, hormones, brain, and other components working together, it can often be difficult to establish the root cause of the condition through a Western diagnostic model. ED can be caused by a variety of physical problems, such as obesity, disease of the heart and/or blood vessels (including hypertension), disease of the nervous system (such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease), prostate cancer treatment, excessive intake of alcohol, tobacco, other
harmful substances, and diabetes. Given the often complicated nature of one’s sexuality, ED can also be caused by psychological and emotional problems like depression, stress, and intimacy challenges with a partner.
Western medicine saw a significant development in treatment for ED when it developed medications like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra as a way for a man to develop an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. These medications, as well as other similar therapies, have become a popular response to overriding ED symptoms. Additionally it has become a recreational drug for men without diagnosed medical problems. It is not recommended that these medications be taken with others that thin the blood, help resolve angina, and other issues related to the heart and circulatory system. Other Western treatments for ED include self-injections, penis pumps, hormone therapy, and surgical procedures.
As the Western interpretation of how a man’s penis becomes erect notes the cooperation of different systems of physiology, so too does the Ayurvedic theory suggest a similar cooperation of the body’s different elements. The act of eliminating the stool and urine from the system happens through the movement of Vata energy, and the proper balance of moisture in this inherently dry element ensures healthy elimination of these waste products. The act of moving semen from the body is also driven by the Vata element, and yet the substance of semen itself is produced by the heat in the body associated with Pitta energy. Therefore, to have healthy sexual potency, a man must have active but not excessively dry Vata energy and strong but not overheated Pitta energy.
Ayurveda also considers ED to be related to the mind, senses, and emotions. When a person is challenged by worry, anxiety, stress, depression, old age, or other preoccupations, then the body can only react to these stimuli and not focus on physical sex. The mind might want to engage in the physical act, but the other heavier thoughts cause distracting emotions to the point that the person cannot concentrate and perform the act.
Taking Western forms of medication for this issue may create the physical possibility of having sex, but the mind will still be elsewhere. Ultimately, the Ayurvedic lifestyle encourages the ED sufferer to overcome the mental challenges and not just force the physical release of semen.
When a man subjects himself to excessive movement, anxiety, and frenetic experiences, he is at risk of aggravating his Vata energy. When he overexerts himself in work, physical activities like exercise, and even sexual activity, he is at risk of aggravating his Pitta energy. Generally, a man with erectile dysfunction must work to settle either the Vata or Pitta energy that is seemingly aggravated in his body.
If the man’s erectile dysfunction is accompanied by constipation, anxiety, dryness of the skin, and other symptoms indicative of excessive dryness in the body, his problem is likely stemming from a Vata imbalance.
If the man’s erectile dysfunction is accompanied by diarrhea, irritability, anger, burning sensations, and other symptoms indicative of excessive heat in the body, his problem is likely stemming from a Pitta imbalance.
Treatment therefore centers on restoring whichever dosha is most out of balance and allowing the man’s sexual potency to restore itself by balancing of the body’s energy. There are specific Ayurvedic treatments that are administered by trained practitioners and are intended to help a man restore his vitality and therefore his sexual potency, but this is a sophisticated process not appropriate for self-administration by a layman.
Self-healing remedies include eating a dosha-balancing diet and taking herbs that help build strength and energy. In addition, it is suggested that the ED sufferer adhere to a practice of yoga postures and breathing exercises as well as sitting quietly for some time each day. This will bring the mind into harmony, help the sufferer to let go of any negative thoughts, and help him to let go of excessive obsessions that lead to sexual frustration.
When we neglect to establish the root cause of one illness, it can turn into another, stronger illness in the future. The first step in resolving a specific ailment or disease in the body is to assess the nature of our lifestyle and make general modifications. Living our day-to-day life with a deliberate intention to improve our health will help us to both resolve the disease we are suffering from and prevent further incidence of it and other diseases in the future. The general goal of changing one’s lifestyle to resolve erectile dysfunction is to restore strength and vitality to the body through the balancing of the Vata and Pitta doshas.
Ayurveda teaches us that disease and sickness are derived from poor digestion and inappropriate food choices. We then have the opportunity to make deliberate and more conscious decisions as to what foods we do and do not put in our body which increases the chance of resolving the body’s imbalance.
Food needs to be in season, in moderate combinations of one or two food groups, not too hot or cold, in a modest enough quantity to allow for room in the stomach later, consumed without too much liquid which hinders digestive power, and should be fresh and not left over for more than a few hours. The following foods are listed to be a dosha-balancing diet for both Vata and Pitta energies, as each of these plays a role in causing erectile dysfunction:
Whole wheat (unbleached)
Rice (white basmati)
Avoid raw and cold foods
Rice (white basmati)
Avoid nuts, lentils, and spicy and sour foods
While some foods can help to balance an aggravated dosha, other foods can cause further imbalance. Dry and cold foods as well as pungent, bitter and astringent tastes will dry out the body and aggravate the Vata dosha.Sour, salty and pungent tastes as well as spicy foods will add more heat to the body and aggravate the Pitta dosha.Sweet, sour and salty tasting foods will add heaviness to the body and aggravate the Kapha dosha. Avoiding the following foods can help to balance the Vata and Pitta doshas respectively:
Most legumes including green lentils and garbanzo beans
Raw and cold foods
Sour foods (like yogurt, sour cream, and pickles)
Generally, Ayurveda discourages the consumption of too many cold beverages, as doing so hinders the strength of the body’s digestive fire. Instead, favors room temperature or hot beverages to encourage the strength of the digestive fire.
Boiled milk with myrrh, saffron, ashwagandha, and aloe vera gel.
Herbal tea of licorice and cardamom
Boiled milk with saffron, aloe vera gel, and shatavari.
Hot milk with a tablespoon of ghee and nutmeg.
Herbs are used in the Ayurvedic system much like Western medicine utilizes drugs and vitamins and can be taken like tea 2 to 3 times a day. Herbs aid in the digestion of food, the breakdown and elimination of toxins, and help to strengthen the cellular structure of our system for greater vitality. Herbs become more potent once mixed with other herbs of similar properties. Mix together 2 to 4 different herbs from the below list by adding a quarter to a half teaspoon full of each, for a total of 1 teaspoon. Drink these in half cup of hot water.
Aloe vera gel
When applied therapeutically to specific ailments, yoga postures provide an opportunity to strengthen the body, rid it of toxic matter, and restore balance. The postures included in this section can be practiced as part of a more general sequence or can be focused on in short sessions. When first exploring yoga postures, it is best to only practice them for twenty minutes or so per day and build up from there once the body becomes more flexible.
Knee to chest
Knee to chest
Aromatherapy utilizes the fragrances of essential oils when applied to the skin. Essential oils can burn the skin and therefore must be diluted with a base oil such as sesame, coconut, sunflower, canola, or mustard oil. Mix 1 fluid ounce of base oil with about 12 drops of essential oil before applying to skin. You can also just mix 5 drops of base oil to one drop of essential oil if using on one spot.
Vata-related erectile dysfunction can be treated with basil, camphor, cedar, eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger, cinnamon, lavender, lily, lotus, musk, myrrh, patchouli, or sandalwood oil.
Use a sesame oil base.
Apply oil on the forehead or on the back of the neck.
Pitta-related erectile dysfunction can be treated with sandalwood, tea tree, rose, honeysuckle, gardenia, lily, iris, lavender, mint, or lotus oil.
Use a coconut or sunflower oil base.
Apply oil in the center of the chest in front of the heart.
Ayurvedic tradition suggests that repeating certain words or sounds can help a person suffering from an ailment to restore subtle balance to nerve tissue and enhance one’s mental clarity. Different sounds are prescribed to either repeat mentally or chant outwardly. These sounds are also used and repeated in the mind for the purpose of spiritual growth.
For Vata-related erectile dysfunction, repeat the syllable “Ram” for several minutes a few times a day and build more practice over time.As a Vata-related disorder, it is helpful to inwardly repeat this syllable for the duration of time it is practiced.
For Pitta-related erectile dysfunction, repeat the syllable “Aum” (pronounced ohm) for several minutes a few times a day and build more practice over time.As a Pitta-related disorder, it is helpful to both outwardly chant and inwardly repeat this syllable for the duration of time it is practiced.
Controlling the breath is a central practice toward developing peace and stillness in the mind and body. When the breath is under our control, we are no longer at the mercy of the senses that are stimulated by everything and lead to greater fluctuations of the mind. When applied to the context of resolving specific ailments, the breath is used as a tool for developing lung capacity, heating and cooling the body and resolving mental afflictions like anxiety and stress.
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