From perception to deception


  • Ask Dr G
  • Sunday, 20 Mar 2016

The famous pop culture icon, Marilyn Monroe, was an American Actress and Model emblematic of the 1950’s attitude towards sex and sexuality. She once said: “I think Sexuality is only attractive when it’s natural and spontaneous”

Although perceived to have been a sex symbol and successful in her career, the real life of Norma Jeane Mortenson was rather tragic. Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and orphanages till the age of sixteen. While working in a factory, Monroe met a photographer who started her pin-up modeling career, and was subsequently noticed by the studios. Following an initial series of unsuccessful minor film roles, the establishment had persuaded Normal Jeane to change her name and focus on her sex appeal.

By 1953, Monroe was the most bankable Hollywood star with the success in three comedies Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire and of course, The Seven Year Itch. Monroe had to continue with the established perception of the “dumb blonde”, despite objections from women’s rights's groups.

Behind the scenes, Marilyn Monroe was disappointed being typecast and underpaid by the studio. She was also faced with the scandal when it was revealed she had posed nude before the stardom. In addition, Monroe’s private life and three marriages resulted in her struggles with depression, addiction and anxiety. She died at the age of 38 from an overdose.

The great Leonardo Da Vinci once said: “The greatest deception men suffers is from their own opinion”. On that note, we would like to dissect the real truth behind natural remedies for the therapy of erectile Dysfunction. Are the natural products “Magic hidden in the Marvel” or “Deception behind Perception”?

 

Dear Dr. G,

My name is David, I am 52-years-old.

I recently built up the courage to see a doctor after two years of suffering from Erectile Dysfunction.

My doctor discovered I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He also thinks I have a problem with intolerance of glucose, as there is a family history of diabetes. He reckoned my erection problem is the direct results of my health problems. My doctor thinks I need to be started on the blue pills.

Indeed, I had tried to pills and it works wonders. However, I have my reservations.

I am worried the blue pill being a “western medication” is harmful to me. I am worried about the long-term side effects, including dependence and organ damage.

I recently had a chat with my neighbour, who also had the same problems and he started on some herbal medications and ginseng and they worked for him.

Don't get me wrong; my ED problem is quite mild. Surely that will not require permanent medication; therefore I am keen to try herbal remedies.

Is there any scientific evidence ginseng or any other herbal remedies work?

Surely natural therapy is better than long-term medications, right?

 

 

David,

Phytotherapy is the study of the use of extracts of natural origin as medicine or health promoting agents. Traditional phytotherapy is also regarded as herbalism and considered a form of alternative medicine. Although such therapy has been in existence for many centuries and many biological effects of plants have been proven through clinical studies, there is often a debate of the natural remedies about its efficacy and place in modern medicine.

The real difficulties in the studies of natural remedies are the consistency and quality of the ingredients. The quality of crude drugs or plant medicines depends upon a variety of factors, including species of the plants, growing conditions, timing of harvest, storage and processing, which are difficult to standardize.

The increasing demand and interest in the public perception of “Natural is better” had prompted the establishment of the US National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health of the national Institute of Health (NIH) to begin clinical trials into the effectiveness of herbal medicine. The Centre had published an outcome on 1000 plants available to public against 356 clinical trials evaluating the therapeutic applications. It was concluded 12% of the plants available in the market, had no studies on efficacy or safety.

Some studies were noted to have an impact on sexual health, including Panax Ginseng, popularly known as Red Ginseng has been researched widely, especially in South Korea. The studies highlighted a study that exposed men with erectile dysfunction to 600mg to 1g of Panax Ginseng extract three times per day, will have significant improvement in the erectile rigidity, compared to the placebo. Such responses were identified in around 50% of the participants after six months of treatment. The other natural remedy believed to be useful in the treatment of erectile dysfunction is Rhodiola Rosea. In a study of this natural product, the dosage of 150mg to 200mg a day for three months will have overall improvement of sexual function in twenty six out of thirty five men. What is noteworthy of these studies have much lower efficacy, compared to conventional medicine, and the number of subject enrolled were small with short follow up.

The more worrying issues of plant-based therapy are the adulteration and inappropriate formulation that will have a high likelihood of causing harm and adversity. Recently, the US FDA laboratory tested 26 herbal products for sexual health and noted 58% contained the content of the blue pills or its derivative. Even more worryingly, closer to home in Indonesia, the authority announced in August 2015 the result of monitoring available traditional medicine and health supplements for “Male stamina”, forty-nine of the fifty products actually had the ingredients of the blue pills (Sildenafil)

Aldous Huxley, the English writer, novelist and philosopher once said: “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between the doors of Perception”. Sadly, the perception of natural ingredients is safe option is often unfounded and adulterated by deception. With that in mind, are you willing to risk your life with your perception?

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