Pro-Sexual Supplements, The Natural Way to Better Sex
By Bonnie Jenkins, Advanced Natural Medicine
Ah, Valentine’s Day! Candlelight, flowers – and, if we’re lucky, good sex. But as we get older, many of us find that our sexual flames are sputtering. Either the mechanics aren’t working the way they should, or the desire has vanished. If that sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction.
But here’s the good news: You can get that loving feeling back with the help of an essential amino acid that’s one of the building blocks of protein in your body. Best of all, it’s safe and effective for both men and women – and it doesn’t require a prescription!
The Secret to Great Sex
So what is this secret to sexual satisfaction? L-arginine. L-arginine rocketed to fame in the 1980s when researchers Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, coauthors of Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach, heralded its ability to release growth hormone (GH) from the pituitary gland. But that’s just the beginning of L-arginine’s amazing benefits. While L-arginine can promote fat loss, rejuvenate skin tone, increase lean muscle mass, and enhance bone density – all of which will make you sexier and more self-confident – it also boosts sexual desire. But the real news is its effect on nitric oxide.
L-arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide (NO), an essential compound that helps blood circulation. But NO is also important to normal sexual function in both men and women. In fact, both men and women report that L-arginine seems to increase their desire for sex. And some report that L-arginine gives them greater endurance and stronger, more powerful orgasms.
Insufficient blood flow is a major cause of an incomplete erection in men. L-arginine has been shown to improve blood flow to the genital area by dilating blood vessels and helping the penis enlarge to its full capacity, thus increasing the size, hardness, and frequency of erections.
In a small preliminary trial by New York University School of Medicine, men with erectile dysfunction (ED) were given 2,800 mg. of L-arginine per day for two weeks. Six of the 15 study participants were helped while taking the amino acid, although none improved while taking the placebo. In a larger double-blind trial, Israeli researchers gave 50 men who had been diagnosed with ED either 1,670 mg. of L-arginine per day or a placebo for six weeks. Of those taking the L-arginine supplements, 31 percent reported significant improvement.
Like Viagra, L-arginine causes the production of NO and leads to increased levels of a chemical intermediary called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). It’s cGMP that actually triggers the muscular and vascular changes that lead to an erection. The longer cGMP levels are maintained, the better the chance of achieving and maintaining an erection. And, since the amino acid works directly on the corpus cavernosum – two cylinders that sit side-by-side inside the penis – L-arginine also enhances sensation.
Most pro-sexual supplements target men. But L-arginine can help women achieve sexual nirvana, too. Higher blood flow makes a woman’s clitoral and vaginal tissues more sensitive and responsive to sexual stimulation and helps increase the possibility of reaching orgasm. Although there haven’t been nearly as many studies done on arginine supplementation in women, one study found that postmenopausal women who took a supplement including L-arginine experienced heightened sexual response.
Another study involving 108 women of all ages found that, after four weeks, more than 73 percent of the women who took a supplement including L-arginine experienced greater sexual satisfaction, including heightened desire and clitoral sensation, frequency of intercourse and orgasm, and less vaginal dryness.
One Last Thing ...
L-arginine should be taken once a day at bedtime. Start with 50 mg. and increase the amount as needed, up to 8,000 mg. This pro-sexual supplement is safe for most people, even at high doses. However, if you have a history of herpes infections (shingles, genital herpes, or any of the other herpes-related conditions), check with your health-care provider before taking L-arginine.
L-arginine can also raise blood sugar levels, so diabetics should avoid this supplement. Finally, don’t take L-arginine if you have cancer, since this amino acid may promote the growth of tumors.
Research Brief …
Sex isn’t the only thing that seems to diminish as we age. The older we get, the more our muscles deteriorate, resulting in less strength and endurance. But a new study by exercise researchers has found that beta-alanine supplements may improve muscle endurance in older men and women. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps form carnosine, which plays a major role in normal muscle function during intense exercise. The more beta-alanine, the higher the carnosine levels in muscles.
Researchers in England gave 2.4 grams of beta-alanine a day to 12 older men and women; they gave placebos to 14 others. After 90 days, those who took the beta-alanine saw a 67 percent improvement in their fitness compared to a 22 percent improvement in the placebo group.
Beta-alanine isn’t anything new to athletes and body builders, who have used it for years to optimize muscle performance. But this new research suggests this supplement could help prevent falls and prolong independent living among seniors. So if you’ve noticed that your muscles aren’t what they used to be – or that your strength seems to be diminishing – give beta-alanine a try. Start with 800 mg. of supplemental beta-alanine per day.
While beta-alanine is safe, some people may notice a slight tingling on the skin in the first few weeks immediately after ingesting the supplement – and this sensation can last about an hour. This is caused by how beta-alanine binds to nerve receptors, and it will subside after a few weeks of supplementation.
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Komori K, Tsujimura A, Takao T, et al. “Nitric oxide synthesis leads to vascular endothelial growth factor synthesis via the NO/cyclic guanosine 3’,5’-monophosphate (cGMP) pathway in human corpus cavernosal smooth muscle cells.” Journal of Sex Medicine. 2008;5:1623-1635.
Laumann EO, Paik A, Rosen RC. “Sexual Dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and Predictors.” Journal of the American Medical Association. 1999; 281: 537-544.
Stout JR, Graves BS, Smith AE, et al. “The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue in elderly (55–92 Years): a double-blind randomized study.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2008, 5:21.