by Stephanie Brochstein, student herbalist
TCM is effective in treating symptoms like low libido, premature ejaculation and impotency in men. However, syndrome differentiation is key. There is a saying in TCM called “many treatments: one disease:: one disease: many treatments.” Sexual dysfunction could be created through any number of disharmonies originating from any part of the body.
Most often, we hear male sexual problems expressed in terms of kidney deficiencies (or testosterone deficiency, if giving a Western explanation). It is commonly accepted in the Oriental Medical community that kidney essence becomes fatigued and depleted with age and therefore functions related to kidney essence, such as sexual performance, also begin to suffer.
The heart is sometimes called the “upper kidney.” Therefore, it makes sense that another likely cause of male sexual dysfunction is the heart. There are two centers of sexuality in the body: one above the waist (in the upper burner), and one below the waist (in the lower burner). The Heart/Pericardium (above) and the Kidneys/Ministerial Fire (below) regulate the ascending and descending of Fire and Water energies in the body. They act to mutually inhibit and nourish each other. In this instance, inhibition is a good thing because we are talking about containing fluids and essence within the body (where it belongs). When Fire and Water are disharmonious then sexual dysfunction will ensue.
According to Dr. Giovanni Maciocia:
” In men we can use the Heart channel points to treat sexual dysfunctions such as impotence or premature ejaculation which are nearly always due to a dysfunction of Heart-Fire (deficient or excessive) rather than a Kidney deficiency. That is why, in most cases, all these tonics with deer antler, dog’s penis, seal penis or sea-horse never do anything.”
What does this mean to the patient? It means that going to Hong Kong Mart and purchasing Sea Horse Pills or Cobra Pills may be making your problem worse. This is why it is important not to diagnose yourself and to find a practitioner with whom you have good communication and feel comfortable talking about these sensitive issues.
This discussion may raise another question for you: what about performance anxiety ?
Glad you were too embarrassed to ask… just kidding. If a man complains about premature ejaculation or impotency and he is also bringing a background of mental-emotional problems to the table then acupuncture becomes a crucial treatment strategy.
At any age, psycho-emotional triggers can lead to sexual problems. Since the heart is considered one of the sexual centers of the body this should come as no surprise. A sudden shock such as the loss of a loved one, losing a job, trouble with your children, or even an accident like a bike wreck can create emotional blockages that can then cause sexual dysfunction. The diagnostic skills of a good OM practitioner are crucial in determining where the blockage is in the body and then releasing the blockage via acupuncture or herbal medicine.
It may be uncomfortable to admit that you are experiencing sexual problems but the great news is that they are really common and are often easy to treat. This is nothing to be embarrassed of… sexual problems are simply one way the body can express stress on the system.
Treating sexual dysfunction will often require high levels of patient compliance that may include activities like abstaining from cold fluids, avoiding any type of libido-enhancing or performance-enhancing prescriptions like Cialis, Viagra, or regulating their frequency of ejaculation for the purpose of restoring their system. And while some of these changes may cramp your style for a time, they are necessary.
Men may hate going to the doctor… but this is one issue that typically grabs their full attention. (Am I right, or Am I right?)
Note: It is of the utmost importance that you work with a practitioner you feel comfortable with. I feel comfortable talking about male urogenital issues, but men usually do not feel comfortable talking about sexual issues with a female practitioner. For this reason, I urge all patients who are new to TCM to schedule with David – who is very adept at explaining the how’s/why’s/what-to-do-next’s…