- A group of scientists analyzed the approaches to ED treatment in Western and Eastern medicine to learn if the two can work together.
- Western approach is more specialized while Eastern medicine is more holistic.
- Modern Western treatments can even help men with severe erectile dysfunction.
- Eastern medicine aims to bring back balance of body and mind, but we need more evidence to prove its effectiveness.
- Combining Western ED treatment with the Eastern approach may bring best results in the long term.
Are we merely flesh, blood, and bones, or is there something more to a human being? Is there a soul, that invisible energy that flows through us and makes us who we are?
This is an eternal question of humanity. Surprisingly, it is not only the domain of philosophers. It’s a foundation of modern medicine in many parts of the world.
In this way, the thought systems and medical treatments of the West and the East stand radically apart. The two approaches to erectile dysfunction is a good example of these contrasts.
Comprehensive Analysis of ED Treatments
A group of scientists from Singapore and Australia wrote a comprehensive analysis of Western and Eastern treatments for erectile dysfunction. The question they asked was, “Can these two coexist?”
The strength of the paper lies in the overview of data behind different concepts and ideas. There is a clear need for more research into the effectiveness and safety of traditional Chinese Medicine and other Eastern treatment approaches.
Still, the authors concluded that men would benefit from a coordinated and combined use of classical medicine interventions and those popular in the East. Let’s examine the main differences between the two.
Western Approach to Erectile Dysfunction
Discoveries of Western medicine have revolutionized the lives of men with ED. With the invention of PDE5 (phosphodiesterase-5) inhibitor medications, such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, patients regained the ability to get and maintain erections. Classical medicine has something to offer everyone, even men who can’t take ED pills.
- Separation of health and disease
The Western understanding of medicine is grounded in the division of health and disease. The primary goal of Western physicians is to protect the body from illness and restore lost functions in individual organs.
Scientists analyze the causes of health complaints in detail, down to the molecular level. This process results in the creation of effective medications like Viagra.
Western medicine is highly specialized, and it is not unusual for a person with several health issues to take a dozen pills every day. The downside? Most treatments have side effects that overlap or even create new problems in other systems of the body.
- Wide range of Western ED treatments
Pharmacotherapy has been the first line of treatment for all eligible ED patients. The pills are very effective. For example, sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) results in better erections for two thirds of men.
Men who can’t take the pills often try penile injections. The injections usually result in an erection within 15 minutes, and the erection holds for at least half an hour. This treatment may sound scary but is quite safe. Still, many men are not interested in inserting a needle into their genitals.
Eastern Medicine Approaches to ED
What is regarded as “alternative medicine” in Europe or the U.S. is a normal part of life in many regions of Asia.
Some hospitals in China rely on traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) methods and medication, especially in outpatient treatment. At its essence, the Eastern philosophy is holistic and aims to restore overall health.
- Tailor-made therapies
If you visit an Eastern doctor, don’t be surprised if they want to hear the story of your life. An initial interview and exam are the basis of the diagnosis. And even if you’re there to discuss erectile dysfunction, be sure your doctor will discuss liver and kidney health.
Eastern medicine looks at humans as a whole and aims to restore the balance of the body and mind. The focus is on qi – vital energy in the body. The energy should flow freely through multiple meridians, or power channels in the body.
- Long-standing methods with limited evidence
The best-known Eastern treatment is acupuncture. This method is commonly used in patients with ED; however, a 2016 systematic study review found insufficient evidence that acupuncture alone is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Perhaps for this reason, TCM doctors usually combine acupuncture with herbal treatment. While certain plants, such as gingko biloba or ginseng, induce a mechanism that can improve sexual function, most of the evidence we have so far comes from animal studies.
While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that Eastern medicine is beneficial, it also has a significant potential downside: It tends to include folk beliefs. The result? Some unproven and potentially dangerous animal- or insect-derived “treatments” for many conditions, including ED. Be cautious of buying “natural supplements” for erectile dysfunction.
Treating ED with a Combination of Western and Eastern Medicine
Even though we need more research into the mechanisms and results of Eastern medical treatments, there is one thing we can learn from those ancient approaches today.
The aim of treating ED should not be limited to getting a hard penis. It should be to restore a satisfactory sex life for both partners.
Healthy sexuality depends on good physical health. To maintain it, we need proper diet and exercise. We also need to stay mentally fit by managing stress and treating depression and anxiety.
If you live in the West, you may want to try mixing the two approaches. Get a prescription for ED medication to quickly regain your erectile function, and consider working with an Eastern doctor to bring back balance to your body and mind.
Who knows? By trying something new and changing some of your habits, you may not need ED medication anymore.
How eDrugstore Can Help
Are you looking for medication for erectile dysfunction but facing long wait times to see your physician? Get a free online consultation with a U.S.-licensed doctor. They will help you find the right ED medication for you, issue your prescription, then ship it to your door for free. Check out the eDrugstore medication guide for all the treatments we carry, or call 1-800-467-5146 to get started.
Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.