Researchers are looking for young impotent men
Can acupuncture have as a potent an effect as Viagra and Cialis? Norwegian researchers want to know. First they have to get hold of some young men with erectile dysfunction who are willing to participate.
The planned study will be carried out in Oslo and has been sanctioned by REK, the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics.
Nevertheless, after several weeks of attempting to recruit volunteers for the study, Merete Linden Dahle still lacks participants.
“The subject of impotence is so sensitive and taboo. Men with erection problems prefer not to talk about it, even when it might be a symptom of a more serious malady,” she says.
The study is being implemented in cooperation with the Arctic University of Norway’s National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NAFKAM), in Tromsø.
Control group on medicine
The participants have to be under the age of 40 and they will be split into two groups. One will receive potency medications such as Viagra and Cialis, and the other group will be treated with acupuncture.
The acupuncture points are on the arms, legs, stomach and back.
The study will last for 10 weeks and none of the participants will be identified in any way, emphasises Dahle.
The acupuncture treatment will be given twice a week for two weeks, and is of course free of charge.
But participants will have to purchase the erection enhancing pills themselves through prescriptions from their doctors.
Can be a symptom of a serious disorder
It is thought that erectile dysfunction among young men under 40 has psychological origins. But such erection problems at this age can also be symptoms of a more serious disease. Several studies show that the circulatory system is involved.
Problems getting erections can be a preliminary warning of cardiovascular disease. Men with potency problems run higher risks than men without such problems of contracting cardiovascular disease within the next ten years.
Dahle says this is a new discovery and it is still in the open whether the link has something to do with lifestyle or whether it can have a genetic component.
“We are anxious to see if we find a link between erectile dysfunction and any sort of inflammation,” says Dahle.
An inflammation is an infection somewhere in the body.
Even though mortalities from cardiovascular disease have fallen significantly in the past 30 years, the numbers of young persons having heart attacks are on the rise.
Blood and heart
Earlier studies have shown that young men with problems maintaining erections also have higher blood pressure and higher insulin resistance.
In the upcoming study the participants’ variations in heart frequencies will be monitored, as well as testosterone levels and inflammation levels. These factors will be measured before and after the treatment.
“The latter is what we used to call blood sedimentation and with our methods we can register very small levels of reactions to inflammations in the,” explains Dahle.
All the participants will also be required to fill out questionnaires before and after treatment.
All the data will be rendered anonymous.
Won’t be able to rule out the placebo effect
"But if you see improvements from acupuncture, how do you know whether they are from the acupuncture or the placebo effect – in other words that the participant has expectations that it is helping?"
“We couldn’t rule that out in such a small group as this, just 16 participants,” explains Dahle.
But if the researchers do find improved blood test results following acupuncture treatment that will form the basis for further studies.
“If we find no improvements then it would be unnatural to expand the research,” says Dahle.
Dahle says acupuncture can have an effect on the nerve system and change hormone secretion.
“This is along the lines of training or a work-out, which also has beneficial effects on various body processes.”
Dahle is an acupuncturist and has medical studies. This research is part of her master degree at the Northern College of Acupuncture in York, England. The clinical work will be carried out at Familie Klinikken in Oslo’s central Majorstua district.
If you are interested in participating, contact Familie Klinikken, Kirkeveien 64 b (by Fürst Medical Laboratory).
Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no
Translated by: Glenn Ostling