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Is Caffeine an ED Treatment?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and keep and erection. The reasons why this happens vary, but it is considered abnormal for a man of any age.

According to the National Institutes of Health, around 15 percent of 40-year-old men, and between 15-25 percent of 65-year-old men have experienced ED on a long-term basis.

There are treatment options, but most include medications that can have unpleasant side effects. However, recent findings show that by drinking caffeine, you might be able to treat your ED.

According to the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers found that those who had a greater intake of caffeine had a lower risk of ED.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston looked at data from 3,724 men aged 20 and older that enrolled in NHANES from 2001-2004.

They found that men who consumed 85-170 mg of caffeine a day had a 42 percent lower risk of reporting ED than men who only consumed 0-7 mg daily.

What else did researchers find in this study?

Listen in as Dr. Mike shares this study (published in the journal PLOS ONE) and how drinking caffeine can lower your risk of ED.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: June 10, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Healthy Talk with Dr. Michael Smith, MD, and now here's the country doctor with the city education – Dr. Mike.

MICHAEL SMITH: On April 28, 2015, the Public Library of Sciences published findings obtained from the National Health and Examination Survey, called NHANES, of an association between a greater intake of caffeine and a lower risk of erectile dysfunction. So, this resulted in me asking the question, "Is caffeine an ED treatment?" Well, probably not but if you drink caffeine, guys, it may help a little bit or at least reduce the risk. Here we have David Lopez from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. I've been there several times.

It's a beautiful campus. His colleagues evaluated survey-based data. You know, you ask survey/interview questions from 3,724 men who registered in NHANES. This was data that was collected between 2001 and 2004. What Dr. Lopez and his colleagues were specifically looking for were the interview responses that obtained information about erectile dysfunction and food and beverage consumption over 24-hour periods. So, they really had to really do a lot of data mining, teasing out the data here.

They found men who consumed between 85-170mg of caffeine per day (that was based on beverage intake) had a 42% lower risk of reporting ED in comparison with those who consumed 0-7mg daily. By the way, consuming 0-7mg is pretty much not drinking any caffeine. For those whose intake was between 170-303mg (that's a lot of caffeine equivalent to three cups of strong coffee) the risk was 39% lower.

So, it looks like one or two cups a day for us guys could lower the risk of ED by about 42%. It's not a treatment. It's an association. Don't flip it and think that the absence of caffeine is a risk factor for ED. It's an interesting finding that does have a hypothesis of what's going on here. The finding is simple. Drinking caffeine does seem to lower the risk of ED. So, what's the caffeine doing? Why would caffeine do that? Caffeine does have an effect on the microvasculature. Those are the capillary beds.

So, your heart pumps oxygenated blood-- nutrient rich blood-- into the arterial system and the arterial system travels it out to the individual organs and muscles. The arteries get smaller and smaller and smaller to the point where they dump into what are called capillaries. The capillaries are where you get the exchange of nutrients into the tissue, waste products back into the capillaries and now you dump into the venous system. That's how it works.

So, everything really occurs at the capillary level. Caffeine has an effect on the capillaries also known as the microvasculature. No one has really worked it out exactly what's going on but as a stimulant, it does seem to be able to relax a lot of the arteries feeding the capillaries and even the veins draining the capillaries.

So, it's able to engorge, if you will, the capillary bed – that includes in the penis--and that is going to help with blood flow and erection. That's, at least, the theory. I have to tell you. I think it makes sense to me. Caffeine is affecting ultimately blood flow. Caffeine consumption 1-2 cups of coffee a day might reduce the risk by about 42% because the effect on the microvasculature. I have a quote here from Dr. Lopez in Houston.

He says "Coffee and its most studied component, caffeine, may have been implicating potential health benefits to the rich sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds contained in this beverage." They recommend further investigation of the association between ED and caffeine consumption in future prospective studies. That's how we always end all of our studies, which is good. Science is always evolving. There is never an absolute. So, caffeine may help to reduce the risk.

I thought I might use this opportunity (I have a few minutes left here) to talk about what, in my own experience in treating patients and Life Extension customers, has been successful. This is included in the Life Extension protocol. If you go to there are great protocols. I always forget the number of protocols we have now. I think it's like close to 200. 200 health protocols and Erectile Dysfunction is one of them. These protocols aren't just a listing of nutrients. They go into the pathology, the statistics of it, the epidemiology, the current treatment, where current treatment is successful and where current treatment fails.

When I say current, I mean more conventional and then where diet and exercise and targeted nutrients can help with these disorders. These are comprehensive protocols. They are quite popular, not just for consumers, but even for doctors and hospitals. So, I went to the Life Extension Erectile Dysfunction protocol and I want to talk about the combination of arginine and pine bark extract called pycnogenols. When you combine arginine, an amino acid, with pycnogenol, the effects are pretty awesome for guys with ED. Let's first just talk about arginine by itself. This has been a "go to", a mainstay in ED treatment on the natural side for many years.

Arginine is the pre-cursor to nitric oxide, which is what allows vessels to dilate. When you ingest arginine, you make more nitric oxide which means the arteries feeding the capillary beds can open up more, the veins open up more, so there's just more blood flow through the penis. That's how arginine works. One of the best studies on arginine was published in the journal Urology in 2011. Great peer-reviewed journal. It's one of my favorites when it comes to things like ED and stuff like that. This journal is very open.

They do publish a lot of information on alternative therapies and I like that. Not all of the journals do that. Some are very conventional. Urology is very unbiased. It's very fair and it's a great journal. It needs to be a standard for other medical journals. Urology 2011 showed that supplementation with L-arginine was able to restore erectile quality and increase sexual satisfaction by boosting nitric oxide bioactivity and improving blood flow to the penis.

Again, Urology 2011. Here's where it gets powerful. The one issue with arginine is that we really don't know the dose and that was even admitted in this publication. The dose could range anywhere in between 1 gram up to 8 grams a day depending on your situation. You just have to start low and go slow. Start low and go slow. That's a great rule of thumb in anything in medicine. So, start at 1 gram a day and work it up. When you take the arginine and combine it with the pine bark extract called pycnogenol, the effects are just amplified.

Not only is arginine boosting nitric oxide production, pycnogenol has some effects on the vasculature just like arginine does. So, they work synergistically. As a matter of fact, the combination of arginine and pycnogenol has been tested in 5 independent clinical studies and have been shown to improve male sexual function.

There was one clinical trial involving 40 men between 25-45 years old suffering from mild ED. They were given 80mg of the pycnogenol and about 2g of the arginine daily and yielded significant improvements with 32 of the patients (80%) enjoying normal erections. That's pretty good. Even the blue pill guys use works in only about 90% of the cases.

So, here's a natural safe alternative to that blue pill. That was published in the International Journal of Impotence Research 2008. So pycnogenol and arginine and a little bit of caffeine for ED. How's that? It may work.

This is Healthy Talk. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay Well.