ED and sunlight, by Marc Sorenson, EdD
ED (erectile dysfunction) is an embarrassment and frustration for many men.
This disease leads to failure in the bedroom for both man and wife. What you may not know is that ED is also a major predictor of heart and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Moreover, although some experts consider it a psychological (and therefore neurological) origin, it is not psychological. Erection is a mostly a vascular event and ED is, largely, an artery-blocking vascular disease similar to heart disease. Nevertheless, it also is associated with higher risk of other maladies such as respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and inflammatory disorders. ED is no laughing matter, and recent research has demonstrated that the condition predicts a profoundly increased risk not only of CVD, but also death in general: A 12-year study showed that men with ED had a 70% increase in all-cause death, compared to men without the condition.
What is the underlying cause of ED?
I believe that (as with other degenerative diseases) junk food consumption plugs arteries and wreaks havoc on all body systems. At our former health resort, men sometimes reported that after using good nutrition and obtaining sun exposure, their ED problems disappeared. Based on the science and observation, it is my opinion that ED originates with poor nutrition. Yet, sun exposure can offer a partial solution for the condition. While sunlight is important, it is an adjunct, not a cure for ED. Only a healthful diet, combined with sunlight, can reverse and heal the disease. So let us delve into the helpful effects the sun brings—effects provided by nitric oxide stimulation to the arteries.
The anatomy of ED.
The vascular part of the ED problem is due to two cylindrical arteries (chambers) called the corpus cavernosa. When anything occludes these chambers, they allow minuscule blood flow into the penis, thus making erection impossible. Nitric Oxide (NO), a product of sun exposure, upon stimulation by the nervous system, causes vasodilation in the cavernosa, allowing them to receive blood. As stated in the online journal, Concepts in Biochemistry, “Achievement of a penile erection in males is largely an application of basic principles of hydraulics. Stimulation of the nerves innervating the penis causes the dilation of the deep arteries supplying blood. A large amount of blood enters the penis and engorges the cavernosa sinuses. This engorgement acts to compress the veins draining blood from the penis. The increased inflow and decreased outflow of blood causes an erection. Cessation of impulses to the penis acts to abolish the erection.”
So, where does sunlight enter in?
An early study assessed the effect of ultraviolet light (sun) exposure on cavernosal strips, obtained from men during surgery. The strips showed relaxation in response to sunlight, and relaxation increased with the duration of exposure. We expect that sunbathing, which would profoundly increase NO in the circulation, would also allow erection. The same nitric-oxide mechanism that lowers blood pressure would seem to be a good method to treat ED. Another indication that sun exposure can play an important role in treating ED, is the fact most men with ED have low 25(OH)D levels. But we already know that low 25(OH)D levels are a surrogate measurements for low sun exposure. Therefore a large part of the problem may be may be a lack of NO production!
Many products purportedly cure and alleviate ED. If most men would eat decently and obtain regular, non-burning sun exposure, they and their wives would be much happier and satisfied.
For more information on sunlight and disease, visit sunlightinstitute.org and read the book, Embrace the Sun.