When science meets culture: The prevention and management of erectile dysfunction in the 21st century
Traditionally, the term “impotence” has been used to signify a male’s inability to attain and maintain an erection. Impotence, in most circumstances, is more precisely referred to as erectile dysfunction (ED). An estimated 10-20 million men suffer from the condition. However, this number is expected to increase dramatically, with an estimated figure of 322 million by 2025. Even though the prevalence of ED increases with age, it must be stressed that ageing itself is not a cause of ED as it is associated with metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and other noncommunicable diseases, such as obesity. Many patients self-medicate by resorting to local herbs and overthe-counter (OTC) preparations to manage ED. Because of the increasing number of men seeking treatment for ED, there is a need to assess the safety and biological plausibility of some of the readily available preparations (as well as food and drink) that reportedly enhance sexual desire or performance. For the purpose of this review, the aphrodisiacal qualities of freely available foods and natural OTC products will be reviewed and evaluated. These include oysters, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, chilli, Epimedium extract (horny goat weed), Panax ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, Tribulis terrestris, Eriosema kraussianum and Spanish fly (cantharides).