By Lee Hitchcox D.C. and Menkit Prince

We live in a society where large numbers of American men are clearly not happywith their sexual performance. Health magazines are now awash in ads for male potency aids: Horney Goat Weed, Yohimbe, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng and Muira Puana (Potency Wood). And sales of Viagra skyrocketed to 1 billion dollars last year. But is Viagra the ideal solution for impotence? Would you like to know of an alternative to Viagra that is more than a bandaid or placebo because it addresses the cause of impotence?

By inhibiting the enzyme PDE 5 (phosphodesterase), a chemical is released that increases blood flow to the sexual organs causing an erection. The drug doesn’t cause an erection or increase libido unless one is already sexually excited.

On her second date Jane, a nurse, opens her handbag and produces some Viagra pills for Tony, her new boyfriend. She explains that these pills will help lead them to ecstatic sex. She is a modern woman who knows exactly what she wants. Tony, being 50 years old, aware of his waning sexual prowess and wanting to please her, enthusiastically pops the pills. It works - he feels like a 20 year old again! Unfortunately, a year later, Tony notices he is unable to have an erection without using Viagra – his condition is worse than before he started taking this drug.

Perhaps Jane neglected to alert Tony of the potential dangers associated with Viagra. Since its approval in March 2000 by the FDA, 130 Americans have died – 77 from coronary heart problems such as heart attacks. Others have suffered strokes and non-fatal heart attacks as a direct result of using Viagra. Pharmaceutical companies warn men not to take Viagra without a prescription from a doctor because of the many risks, especially for men taking nitroglycerin, which is a heart drug that lowers high blood pressure. Ironically, it is the men who are suffering from heart problems who need Viagra the most (see following) yet they are the very ones who cannot take it!

The British Medical Journal reports cases of men taking Viagra who maintained painful erections for up to 24 hours after ejaculation (called priapism). This totally unnatural occurrence damages the tiny valves in the penis veins, leading to permanent impotence. This condition would be more likely to strike young men in their prime who do not need Viagra than men who truly suffer from impotence. Since Viagra interferes with the ability to distinguish between blue and green, pilots are prohibited from taking it for 12 hours before flying. Imagine being on a plane with 500 people which crashed because the pilot recently took Viagra and could not differentiate between the various colors on the plane’s control panel in the cockpit and land the plane safely!

Other side-effects include splitting headaches, which are caused by the surge of blood to the meninges (the sheath protecting the brain). Additionally about 10% of men suffer from blurred vision, decreased tolerance to bright lights, stomach upset, nasal congestion, diarrhea and urinary tract infection. Facial flushing where the blood vessels to the face dilate causing redness, is also common.

At the very least, the long-term use of Viagra can leave men unable to achieve erections without its use, thereby creating life-long dependence. So for short-term benefits, there is a long-term price. It would be wise to think twice before trying it just because your friends recommend it, especially if you truly don’t need it and are merely trying to enhance your sexual performance.

We will start with an elementary anatomy lesson. The penis, clitoris and nipples are comprised of erectile tissue. Blood enters through arteries and leaves through veins. When sexually excited, veins contract which restricts blood from leaving the erectile tissue. An erection is nothing more than engorged blood (how romantic!) However when the arteries are clogged (due to a diet high in saturated fats), or the heart is weak, blood can’t flow to the genitals, causing the embarrassing problem of impotence.

Heart disease and impotence are related because the heart’s function is to circulate blood and as we explained earlier, an erection is nothing more than engorged blood. Medical studies clearly show that a diet high in saturated fats leads to clogged arteries and heart disease (1). In our society, it’s normal for clogged arteries to begin in early childhood. Several studies show fatty streaks in the arteries of American children by ten years of age (2). It’s also normal for blood cholesterol levels to rise with age. Other studies show that following the guidelines of the American Heart Association i.e. 30% fat – 300 mg of daily cholesterol – 4 eggs per week does not stop the progression of heart disease (3).

Even if a man survives a heart attack (75% of men survive their first heart attack), his heart is never the same – he will be disabled in some way for the rest of his life. The first signs of impotence in a man could signal impending heart disease, our nation’s number one killer. In the same way that heart disease can be prevented through diet, so too can impotence.

In this culture, Americans are obsessed with getting enough protein which explains why everybody is eating so much meat. According to Chinese Acupuncture theory, the kidneys relate to sexual desire and ability. However animal protein is hard on the kidneys because it must be broken down into nitrogen waste products (urea, uric acid, creatinine, ammonia) which are excreted in the urine. Over a lifetime, the kidney tissue deteriorates from the increase in flow and pressure. By age 80 most Americans have lost 33-50% of their kidney function and excess protein appears to be the prime cause (4). This is why people with kidney disease are placed on low-protein diets. Since kidneys relate to sexual desire/ability and, as we have demonstrated, eating meat detrimentally affects kidneys, sexual function is weakened as a result of eating meat.

Since saturated fats clog arteries and impair heart function, they directly cause impotence. All fats from animal products are saturated however the most saturated fats come from red meat. Red meat is 70% fat; dairy products (such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream, ice cream) are around 56% fat which is even more saturated than lard at 42%. Also tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil are saturated. There are no other saturated fats in the vegetable kingdom. It’s ironical that men historically have always believed that eating red meat would make them more virile. As it turns out, the opposite is true in the long run.

No pun intended! Americans are now tearing into beef like there’s no tomorrow. Since 1997, the number of U.S. steakhouses nearly tripled according to market research firm NPD Group, Inc. Tyson Foods, the poultry giant, this year agreed to buy the nation’s largest red meat processor for $3.2 billion. And Taco Bell formed a partnership with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association to ensure supplies for its new steak burrito. During the past two years, demand for beef rose 6% according to the University of Missouri. A recent national Harris Poll revealed that 96% of Americans now eat beef. Small wonder Viagra sales are soaring.

A diet rich in whole foods from the plant kingdom (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds) on the other hand is not saturated and does not contribute to clogged arteries, high LDL cholesterol, heart disease and impotence. Dairy products are the most mucous-forming foods and coat internal organs and mucous membranes with a layer of mucous, making the whole system sluggish and less sensitive. Sensitivity helps one be a better lover, regardless of whether you are male or female. Who would ever believe that eating a simple diet of whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds could lead to a long and satisfying sex life? Yet the long-lived societies such as the Hunza people of the Kashmir Valley and the Vilcalbambas of Ecuador Valley have been eating this way for hundreds of years and not only do they avoid degenerative disease (such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis etc.) and obesity but they also live a long time – reputedly up to 120 and 140 years –and they are still sexually active AT 100 YEARS OF AGE! These people have no need of Viagra or any sex stimulants.

It’s sad that instead of making more intelligent, educated dietary choices, Americans today are not eating less but more saturated foods and using Viagra (with all its attendant side effects) to deal with the consequences of declining sexual ability. But there is a better way. To live a long and healthy life, free from degenerative diseases and impotence, simply eat the same foods of people with a track record for doing exactly that.

So the next time you long for the taste and texture of a thick, juicy, succulent steak and hear voices call to you from the meat counter ask yourself what kind of lover do you want to be over age 40? If the answer is vibrant and exciting, head on to the fresh produce and bulk grain aisle instead!

Note: For more information on longevity, read Long Life Now by Lee Hitchcox D.C. (415)455-0220 and for elegantly delicious yet simple recipes based on the Hunza diet read The Essential Oil Cookbook by Menkit Prince (888)217-1028, or email

British Medical Journal, 291:34, 1985
National Cholesterol Education Program, Pub. # 91-2732:11, 1991
New England Journal of Medicine, 328:1213, 1993
New England Medical Journal, 307:652, 1982, Clinical Nephrology 27:71, 1987


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