The Viagra Alternative - The Complete Guide to Overcoming Erectile Disfunction Naturally
By Marc Bonnard, M.D.
Healing Arts Press, 1999
Softcover, 218 pages, $22.95

The most important positive effect of the "Viagra revolution," according to the author of The Viagra Alternative, is cultural, not medical. "Viagra has managed to do what countless doctors and psychologists have been unable to do for decades," writes Marc Bonnard, a French psychiatrist and acupuncturist who specializes in sex therapy. "It has finally removed the taboo from the subject of impotence and made it an acceptable topic for discussion - in the media, in the home, and with a doctor."

Bonnard begins his book on alternatives to Viagra with a chapter on the drug's history and an evaluation of its safety. Viagra was originally used to dilate blood vessels for cardiac patients. When it was found insufficient for that purpose, researchers were surprised that many male patients wanted to continue with the drug. When questioned, they admitted they were having improved erections. This led to European clinical trials on men with erectile dysfunction. In 1998, Viagra was made available to the general public.

On the subject of safety, Bonnard is concerned about the number of deaths - 220 by 1999 when the book was published.* One of the main causes, Bonnard writes, is mixing Viagra with nitrate drugs, such as nitroglycerin and amyl nitrate ("poppers"), which, like Viagra, dilate blood vessels.

"Viagra potentiates this effect," he explains, "causing a feeling of sickness and, more importantly, a potentially dramatic drop in blood pressure." A fatal stroke or heart attack can result. Bonnard blames the expanding Internet pharmacy phenomenon for playing a role in the deaths. Because men are shy about going to a doctor about their ED problems, they will buy Viagra through the Internet. What they miss (or don't take seriously) are warnings about contraindications and monitoring by a doctor. Bonnard fears a rising death toll.

"This is why it would be so much better for the word to get out that ED can usually be successfully treated with completely natural physical, behavioural and psychological methods," writes Bonnard.

Treatment begins with diagnosis. Bonnard describes the different causes of ED, the symptoms and associated problems. For example, the same kinds of arterial blockages that cause heart disease also commonly cause ED by depriving the penis of a healthy blood supply. onsequently, risk factors like "smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat" can contribute to ED and heart disease alike, Bonnard warns. He is concerned that if men just takes Viagra for their erectile problems, then the underlying health issues are not addressed.

For men with this vascular form of ED, Bonnard recommends "a healthy, low-fat diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking and moderate drinking." This will bring back natural erections and increase life expectancy, he states.
"Herbs work in a more leisurely fashion," according to Bonnard, enhances the mind-body balance that is "so important for a positive sexual experience." Some of the Viagra-alternative herbs that Bonnard discusses in depth are black cumin seeds, damiana, Ginkgo biloba, nettles, saw palmetto and yohimbe. Bonnard also reviews the benefits of homeopathy, yoga, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, relationship therapy and learning new sexual techniques.
Scholarly yet accessible, The Viagra Alternative is an invaluable resource for men with ED who are interested in safe self-care, as well as for healthcare practitioners who are open to natural alternatives.

Recent studies suggest thousands of men have died suddenly after taking Viagra. In most cases nitrates have not been implicated, but another effect of Viagra has: increased platelet clumping - blood clots - leading to heart attacks and strokes. When combined with nitrates, Viagra's competition, Cialis and Levitra, carry the same risk.

Copyright (c) 2002-2010 by Rand Smith.