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Peyronie’s Disease – Alternative Treatment Options

There is a large and silent epidemic occurring right now among men all over the world. This problem is significant and interesting because no one knows – and may never know – how many men have this problem. Worse yet, the problem has no known cause, no accepted medical treatment, and can be so difficult to treat that it has been called “the doctor’s nightmare”. The problem that so frustrates both victim and doctor who treat it is known as Peyronie’s (pay-row-NEEZ) disease.

Peyronie's disease (PD) is a male health problem of unknown origin affecting the penis, characterized by the presence of a nodule of scar tissue, called a plaque, which develops under the skin on an inner layer of tissue along the shaft of the penis. One or more of these plaques can cause the penis to bend painfully, often leading to erectile dysfunction and impotence. To explain the bending of the penis, if a small piece of tape is stuck to a balloon, and is then blown up, the balloon will bend in the direction of the tape because it will prevent full expansion of the balloon. This is how the Peyronie’s scar along the shaft of the penis causes painful bending during an erection.

Peyronie’s disease has been studied since it was described in 1743 by Francois Gigot de la Peyronie, a famed French physician and surgeon who was the personal physician to French King Louis XV. He wrote of the strange problem of three men with "rosary beads of scar tissue to cause an upward curvature of the penis during erection." Even after these 350 years, little is known about PD even to today.

A Mystery for Four Centuries
PD defies study and research because of two unique characteristics: it sometimes just disappears without any treatment, and each case cab be quiet unique. The course of this disease can be wildly variable, preventing the creation of an average case of PD for comparison.

Sometimes the disease appears gradually and is hardly noticeable, and other times it starts suddenly with a great pain and huge bend in the penis. Sometimes it starts after a minor direct injury, and sometimes no injury or contact can be recalled. Sometimes hereditary factors are present, and sometimes none at all. Sometimes there is evidence that an autoimmune disorder might be the cause of the problem, and in other cases not at all. Sometimes there is one scar, sometimes several, and sometimes there is no scar that can be felt although there is slight to great curvature and distortion of the penis. Sometimes the scar is soft, sometimes the scar is hard, sometimes the scar cannot be felt, sometimes the scar circles the penis and creates an hourglass deformity, and sometimes the scar becomes calcified like a bone. Sometimes there is no pain, sometimes slight pain, sometimes great pain. Sometimes the curvature is minimal, and sometimes the penis can bend around like a cane or twist like a corkscrew. Sometimes the disease just disappears in the early stages of development never to return, and other times it recurs several times, and sometimes it just never goes away. Everything about the course of the condition is variable, making it rather impossible to know if, or when, a treatment is having any effect on the problem.

Several aspects of PD make it an especially complex problem to understand:

  1. While there appears to be a hereditary component to this problem, it is not always so. Some men are simply more susceptible to PD because of congenital predisposition, while others are not.
  2. Trauma is sometimes associated with the start of PD, although not always. Not only that, but there is sometimes a delayed onset after major or minor injury, sometimes by many months.
  3. The nodule of scar tissue develops in a layer of penile tissue, called the tunica albuginea, which has a very poor blood supply and is therefore susceptible to this excess plaque formation.
  4. Many cases of PD go unnoticed, since it can also be a minor problem. This distorts a clear picture of how common the problem is and prevents a good assessment of the problem.
  5. Men tend to avoid dealing with this problem for reasons of embarrassment based on loss of virility and self-worth.
  6. Variable course of the disease. Treating PD has been compared to trying to shoot a hummingbird with a BB gun while blindfolded. One of the greatest variables of PD is the size and density of the plaque. Sometimes a man can have PD and not even know it; one study found a surprisingly high incidence on autopsy in men who never complained of a problem with pain or distortion of the penis.

Treatment of Peyronie’s Disease
Faced with a problem that defies close study and good understanding, PD is therefore difficult to treat. While many drugs and therapies have been researched, all treatment efforts have resulted in inconclusive and contradictory results. In spite of this difficulty, there are three different directions that treatment of PD can take:

To date there is no “proven” drug treatment for PD, owing primarily to a lack of understanding of the cause and course of the disease process. Many different drugs have been studied by researchers, such as verapamil, collagenase, various steroids, and calcium channel blockers, but are still considered unproven. This is a stubborn problem to treat because of the fibrous nature of the scar tissue.

Surgery has been called the only approved treatment of PD, although the usual comment is that it results in “some” success with PD. Because of this limited success it is usually prescribed as a last resort when pain or difficulty with sexual penetration becomes extreme. Given the fact that the plaque of PD often results from trauma, many men are reluctant to undergo surgical removal of the scar fearing that even more scar tissue will result directly from surgery. The thinking is that if the scar or plaque developed in the penis from a minor trauma, even more scar might develop if actual cutting and stretching of the delicate tissue occurs during surgery.

Alternative medicine
In view of the lack of clear success in treating PD with traditional methods, other alternative and complimentary medicine methods are being given greater interest for several reasons:

  1. Same or better success in treatment of PD than standard drugs.
  2. Safety of naturally occurring substances that work to increase immune response and support health of tissue to allow repair to occur. No side-effects.
  3. Easily available without prescription
  4. Low cost.
  5. Can be used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies.

Some examples of alternative medical treatment that have been reported to have limited success with PD are vitamin E, Vitamin C, MSM, carnitine, and systemic proteolytic enzymes. In addition, there are other health promoting methods, such as diet, detoxification, acupuncture, and tissue massage to increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage of the lower pelvis. The fact is that there is no single or proven cure against PD, and perhaps there never will be. However, alternative medicine has been used lately with good success when several natural therapies are provided at the same time and given in a high dose and aggressive manner.

Treating PD with alternative medicine seems to work best when it is done using multiple and aggressive conservative methods of care, so as to take advantage of synergy, a principle that is well known in the practice of medicine. Simply stated, synergy is the tendency for two or more substances working together to produce a total effect that is greater than the individual substances each could produce individually. There are many examples of synergy throughout life, as when a small group of people, or even things, are brought together to accomplish more than each can do separately. Using synergy, results of effort are multiplied, not simply added.

Not Bad Luck
The Peyronie’s scar appears to be an expression or extension of the health of the body in which it occurs. Much like an ulcer, it is seen as the result of abnormal body chemistry and physiology. If this is true, treatment of PD should improve the chemistry and physiology of the abnormal tissue of the scar. Using this philosophy, the alternative methods that used various natural products, nutrients and techniques are directly or indirectly intended to improve the chemistry and physiology of the body in general and the scar area in general. By using this approach there should occur an improvement in the health of the individual, with greater ability to heal and reduce and eliminate the PD scar.

While no one yet has concrete answers, it seems logical that the man whose PD gets well on its own has a better healing capacity and better health in some important way, than the other men whose PD never gets better. Getting over PD spontaneously is probably not a matter of luck. The alternative medicine philosophy of care suggests that the person push to increase individual capacity and get healthier in that yet undetermined way so the body can heal to the best of its ability. The fact that some men do better than others with PD likely means there is a variable capacity for healing and improvement for all men. Applying common sense and generally available knowledge about health and healing provides the foundation for a natural conservative treatment plan to improve your chances to survive PD as a winner.  The damaging effect PD has on a man is not only physical, but can be significant on the emotional level. PD can undermine the sense of masculine worth and virility, and totally eliminate the ability to function on a normal sexual level. For many men this causes deep emotional loss, resulting in destruction of marriages and personal relationships. The human aspect and personal toll of PD runs deeply.

Conservative Treatment to Support Ability to Heal
This philosophy is pretty simple: It is better to use safe and simple natural therapies that have been proven successful in other conditions to increase the ability to heal and repair abnormal tissue. Yes, it is better to do all you can for your PD, using as many of safe and scientifically grounded options that are known to have some success in helping the PD scar heal. If after following an aggressive alternative medical program there is less than complete repair and healing, as can happen, then surgery can always be used as a last resort if needed.

For the many silent and suffering men who have PD, the message is simply that there is more that can be done to treat this dreaded condition than standard medicine has to offer. Although this combination treatment of alternative medicine is not a mainstream therapy for PD currently, this approach is being followed by many who are achieving positive results that were not possible with other types of medical care. Alternative medicine advocates using simple and natural products and therapies that are essential for health and well being, and as a way of increasing the ability of the body to heal and repair. The treatment of PD with alternative medicine methods is a large and interesting subject, and really cannot be described completely in this space.

Related Websites:
Med Help - The Penis
Peyronie's MD

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