P. Mirifica and oak gall may help provide answers to the question . . .

What Does Woman Want?
Nature’s gift to women for
honoring their pleasure-health continuum
By Will Block

Despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, I have not been able to answer ... the great question that has never been answered: what does a woman want?
— Sigmund Freud

O

ur story begins in the Levant, an ancient area in the cradle of civilization. The Levant lies within the Fertile Crescent, and is embraced by Mesopotamia to the north. It is here 12,000 years ago that human settlements first appeared, breaking the monotony and limitations of the hunter-gatherer’s trek that had lasted from the earliest days of Homo sapiens. Roughly translated, levant means rising, as in soleil levant, French for “rising sun.” Indeed, the Levant was the area to which hunter-gatherers “retired” and also where the agricultural revolution broke out and dawn first rose on civilization.

Syria, a country of the Levant, is the choice source of a remarkable natural material called oak gall, a protective vegetative tissue created by oak trees (Quercus tinctoria) to envelop the eggs of wasps that are deposited in its branches. Oak gall, which is harvested after the larvae leave, has long been of interest for its astringent qualities, owing to high levels of tannic and gallic acids. This material was drawn to the attention of Maimonides (1137-1204), a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and physician who promoted the philosophical tradition of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher whose thought had been lost for centuries in the West. Thomas Aquinas was a notable reader of Maimonides.

Restoring Feminine Sexuality

As a physician, Maimonides reported that oak gall was a component of a preparation to restore feminine sexuality. In a work titled The Inner Secret: A Memorandum for Noblemen, and Tried and True Devices for the Highborn,* the author began by discussing the benefits and damages that arise from sexual intercourse. Following this, he prescribed multiple concoctions and ointments for increasing sexual desire (or suppressing it), for creating sweet breath to attract sexual partners (or bad breath to repel them), for strengthening penile erections and sustaining them, for preserving youthful feminine breast shape, for encouraging or discouraging sexual desire in one’s partner, and for “restoring” the hymen of a non-virgin, among other sexual goals.


* Maimonides M. On Sexual Intercourse. Brooklyn: Rambash Pub. Co.; 1961.


In his more general writings about health, Maimonides described many conditions, including asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, and pneumonia. All the while, he emphasized moderation and living a healthy life style, virtues for which his treatises became influential with physicians, a reputation that lasted across time. Maimonides was knowledgeable about Greek and Persian medicine, and followed the tradition of Galen. Yet he used his own observations and experience, rather than blindly following others. In his interactions with his patients, Maimonides developed an attitude of acceptance that was rare in his day. He respected his patient’s autonomy.


Maimonides reported that oak gall
was a component of a preparation to
restore feminine sexuality.


Grecian-Roman Remedies for Violated Women

Even earlier, during the third century in ancient Rome, three separate groups of recipes became attached to the corpus of Galen—the prominent Roman physician and philosopher of Greek origin, and probably the most accomplished medical researcher of his time (circ. A.D. 130-200). Circulating in Greek under the title Euphorista, it was a mistaken assumption that these were Galen’s Remedies Easily Prepared. Nevertheless, the contents were found under a general heading, “For Women’s Diseases,” and ran the gamut from conception aids to recipes for dysmenorrhea (a medical condition characterized by severe uterine pain during menstruation), and so on. One section bore the heading, “So that a women who has been violated may appear a parthenos [virgin].” There followed a prescription that included plant substances (wood-cassia, dried roses, white-pepper, etc.) combined with oak gall soaked for eight days in water, along with ground rumex (sorrel, dock, etc.) seeds added. Six recipes were grouped together, of which the second and third boast that, “she will be like a parthenos in coitus.” Oak galls are the principal material in one and rumex seeds in the other. Both of these contain tannins, but especially oak gall. Modern herbal medicine describes oak gall as a powerful astringent and styptic, while rumex displays astringent and cleansing properties. One thing more—recent research has found that oak gall exhibits high antimicrobial activity against bacteria such as Escherichia coli.1


† MacLachlan B, Fletcher J, eds. Virginity: Revisited Configurations of the Unpossessed Body. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press; 2007.


Pueraria mirifica—the Antiaging Powerhouse of Southeast Asia

Although the indigenous Thailand plant Pueraria mirifica (technically Pueraria candollei var. mirifica Airy Shaw et Suvat), was first isolated as a separate species in 1870 by a German, its use and the traditional medicine surrounding it go back a lot farther.* Known as “white Kwao Krua,P. Mirifica (PM) has been thought to possess profound antiaging properties for as long as 7000 years. In Thailand, PM is considered to be a rejuvenating adaptogenic herb with uses rooted in folklore, customs, and culture. The plant is found in the forests in the north, west, and northeast of Thailand. Its tuberous root contains at least 13 known chemicals classified as phytoestrogens and comprised of isoflavones (daidzin, daidzein, genistin, genistein, and puerarin) and others such as miroestrol and its derivatives, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, coumestrol, puerarin, mirificoumestan, kwakhurin, and mirificin.


* The species is native to Burma as well as Thailand, and can occasionally be found in parts of Laos.


Across time, the first reference to PM was found in Buddhist scriptures inscribed on palm leaves in the ancient capital of Burma, a city now known as Bagan, fully on a par with Angkor Wat in nearby Cambodia, and known for its historical power and influence. Among the benefits of PM mentioned in the scriptures were descriptions of its use as a memory tonic, skin revitalizer, hair growth tonic and darkener, anti-cataract inhibitor, and much more.


One section bore the heading “So
that a women who has been violated
may appear a parthenos [virgin].


Thais have been using PM for centuries as foods too, as well as in medicine, prompting an early 20th century researcher to begin investigation into its potentials. Remarkably, Luang Anusan Suntara, a provincial governor in North Thailand, who translated the ancient scripture into modern Thai, reported that women in their seventies and eighties began menstruating again after taking medicines made from PM roots.2 Aging men also showed renewed vigor and vitality. He cautioned, however, that finding the correct variety of PM that contains the active ingredients in sufficient quantities to bring about these results was very difficult.

Estrogenically on the Map

One year after Suntara released his findings, Thai TK* Phaya Vinij, a nobleman who kept traditional medical practitioners in his employ, also reported that PM enhances vitality.3 Then, in 1938, Dr. Dhara Sukhawachana wrote a paper claiming PM has estrogenic effects.4 In 1952, PM caught the attention of Western botanists and scientists in Thailand. The notable English botanist Herbert Kenneth Airy Shaw, in collaboration with Professor Kasin Suvatabhandu, named the species mirifica. It had previously been called “red Pueraria” by locals. And in 1960, TK J.C. Cain discovered an important chemical constituent in PM—miroestrol. Forty years later, new studies have identified deoxymiroestrol and peumiricarpene as other biochemicals contained in mirifica, which also produce estrogen-like effects.


* TK stands for Traditional Knowledge and typically refers to the Thai equivalent of a Naturopathic Doctor.



Ancient writings reported that women
in their 70s and 80s began
menstruating again after taking
medicines made from PM roots.


Bringing PM Up to Date

Studies carried out since the mid-twentieth century have found that PM contains one of the most active of all plant estrogens, miroestrol, which has been isolated and purified from the roots of PM. In fact, this unique phenol estrogenic compound is more potent than any other phytoestrogen found in nature. Following more recent studies concerning the toxicology and efficacy of the PM root—including, acute, subacute, and chronic toxicology studies in animals, and three human safety and efficacy studies—sufficient safety data has enabled PM to be introduced into the US dietary supplement market as a new botanical product under DSHEA’s 75-day premarket approval review process. Not only does PM have low toxicity, less than that of ordinary water, recent research strongly suggests that it may have an anticarcinogenic effect, and that findings continue to support earlier indications that PM destroys breast cancer cells.5

What Do Women Really Want?

Returning to the idea of what women really want: A remarkable article appeared last year in New York Times Magazine, titled “What Do Women Want?”6 As reported, using apparatus devised by Meredith Chivers, a Canadian psychology professor, researchers measured physical response in the genitals of men and women to various video imagery. The men in the study responded in “category specific” ways, based on how they defined themselves sexually. However, all was different with the women. No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal for virtually every type of human sexual encounter projected. And with the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. This research suggests that the answer to Freud’s question, “What do women want?” is: “Just about everything—but they don’t know that.”

You may ask: Why is it so important to know what women desire? Unlike men, for whom sexual dysfunction is rarely about lack of desire but instead about functional issues (such as the inability to get or maintain an erection or premature ejaculation, etc.), for women, the primary sexual dysfunction is lack of desire. At this time, pharmaceutical companies are frantically working to provide a way to boost female desire, because if they do, the gold of King Midas may reflect dimly in comparison to the riches that will accrue. Yet so far, women’s feelings of sexual desire have remained largely immune to what Big Pharma has been able to muster.

The City of Bagan
by Lisa de Araujo
It’s curious to note that for men, Viagra and its rivals bypass the mind. All that’s needed is the stimulation of genital capillaries. While these medications may enhance male desire somewhat, the point remains: they don’t heighten desire, because male desire appears to usually be in steady supply. With women, however, the principal difficulty is in the mind, and not the body, so drugs which only address the physiological aspects of sex have proved to possess little value. Drugs can promote blood flow and lubrication, but this alone is insufficient to elevate a conscious sense of desire.

Nonetheless, Chivers’ research suggests that women seem to have an “inborn system of arousal,” and surprisingly it’s almost entirely physiological. How else to account for the disparity between women’s reading of their desire (“No!”) and what their genital activity measurements show (“Yes!”). It is startling to think that because women’s sexual desire often doesn’t register until physically aroused, that they will often not feel desire until after they have already begun to have sex. But this we know already.

Men feel desire and initiate sexual activity in response, but women require far more foreplay than men to “be ready.” What is the solution to this dilemma? Waiting for female desire may be rather pointless. For her, even when she doesn’t feel in the mood, the best way to get there is to just start having sex. Bear in mind that if her mind is open and she has a loving, patient partner, her mood will perk up before too long.

Better Sex Means Better Health for Women

But, as is often the case with women as they age, vaginal tissue tends to thin and moisturization tends to wane, and . . . there are other problems. This is where an extract of oak gall comes in . . . a remarkable natural ingredient that increases muscle tension in the lower vagina, enabling a firmer grip for increased sexual enjoyment for both partners. Complementing these benefits, PM serves to further enhance natural lubrication and healthier vaginal elasticity and health by restoring and promoting normal hormonal activity.


The answer to Freud’s question,
“What do women want?” is: “Just
about everything—but they don’t
know that.”


When applied topically, not only do oak gall’s astringent properties give near-instant tightening effects, its antioxidant properties tone up vaginal walls to help reverse the loss of elasticity due to aging, hormonal changes and childbirth. These properties also help reduce problems caused by age-related thinning of vaginal tissues. As well, its natural antiseptic actions can help to prevent infections. As women age, the vaginal lining thins, causing irritation, painful intercourse, and increased risk of yeast and bacterial infections. It has been shown that PM is able to help restore the health of mucosal tissue, reducing the problems associated with the thinning of the vaginal lining. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, oak gall also aids in healing external tissue damage after childbirth.

Research has also shown that oak gall extract has natural antiseptic properties that are effective in eliminating bacteria, yeast and fungal infection, the main cause of itching and unpleasant odor in the intimate area. In addition, its astringent properties assist in reducing excessive discharges, which is another cause of unpleasant odor.

Identity Complications

Interest in traditional medicine was growing just as Thailand’s economy began to grow rapidly during the 1990s. During this time, a few local companies sprang up to capitalize on PM’s potential uses. There are two basic varieties of PM which Thais call Kwao Krua Daeng (for its red root) and Kwao Krua Kao (for its white root). To complicate things, the same variety of PM, grown in different locations in Thailand, contains different levels of the important chemicals that provide its benefits. The identification of the right variety can be made only during the two weeks when it flowers, because the key feature is hairy pods.

Not all of the companies that hopped on the bandwagon were using the proper plant. Nor were they using the most effective processes to draw out and separate the active biochemicals for use in their products. Consequently, there are a lot of creams, lotions and pills hitting the market that are bogus, or significantly so, without the quality to achieve the advertised performance that consumers were expecting.

Today, that situation is changing. Many of the companies selling substandard Pueraria mirifica products have gone out of business or are falling by the wayside. However, the one company that has been using sound scientific and production methods is delivering products that consumers swear by. This quality producer is watching its market share soar.

The new millennium is the dawn of a new era for P. mirifica. Reputable companies, and government-affiliated organizations such as the Thai Traditional Medicine Development Foundation, are investing even more in research and development to understand precisely how P. mirifica works, discover new uses and applications for it, and improve production processes to extract mirifica’s healing ingredients in their most pure and powerful forms.

With these improvements in research, production and product quality, P. mirifica is no longer a local cure. Health, food and drug authorities in Western and developed countries are increasingly approving P. mirifica products for sale and distribution to their consumers, allowing them to enjoy a wonder of the East that has been improving the lives and health of Southeast Asians for centuries.

Oak gall also maintains the natural color of the intimate area. Its extract has unique antioxidant properties that are effective in reducing melanin formation and preventing discoloration. This is especially important because frequent bacterial fungal infections and the use of harsh soap can cause discoloration (darkening) of the skin around the genital area.

Optimizing the Benefits of Oak Gall and PM

Over half of all women will experience drastic physical changes as a result of menopause. Hence, menopausal women are most susceptible to conditions such as vaginal dryness, irritation, and sexual problems and symptoms that may ensue. A well-designed PM/oak gall gel formulation is ideal for women who want to prevent or reverse these symptoms. Postmenopausal women thereafter experience sexual problems and symptoms resulting from vaginal dryness and irritation. PM’s natural estrogenic effects, restoring vaginal tissue integrity, result in women achieving a positive sexual experience once again.

Vaginal changes result from the reduction in estrogen (female hormone) levels associated with menopause. Many menopausal women are no longer able to achieve optimum sexuality following menopause.

In addition, a well-designed PM/oak gall formulation contains two all-natural astringents, oak gall and witch hazel, to quickly tighten and firm the tissues. It also contains L-arginine, which is the essential amino acid that regulates blood flow to the genital area. Such a formulation is abundantly safe and therefore can be applied as frequently as needed.

However, for maximum long-term results, the formulated gel should be applied twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. It can also help restore a woman’s natural lubrication when applied around the vaginal area, five minutes before sexual intercourse.

There are currently 3.4 billion women on the planet, and you can be sure that they are all unique and that they all have different answers to different questions. So it seems unlikely that the great question of what women really want will ever be answered, at least not in the form of one size fits all. It is, however, a noble goal to supply healthful and pleasureful alternatives, so that each can decide what best suits her goals and her imagination.

Frequently Asked Questions

The tightening effect on the vaginal muscles can be felt almost immediately. Squeeze a little of the PM/oak gall gel formulation onto your finger and gently sweep within the vagina. However maximum effect will be apparent 10 to 15 minutes after application.

Yes, you can safely use a well-designed PM/oak gall feminine gel formulation with condoms, as it does not contain Vaseline® or any other substances that will compromise the integrity of rubber or plastic.

It is not necessary to use water-based or other lubricants when you use such a formulation. It already is a water-based lubricant.

A PM/oak gall formulation is not recommended for pregnant women. However, it is perfectly safe for use by those who are breast-feeding.

Yes. The gel’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties are suitable for application on minor cuts, bruises and sores on any mucous membrane, including the mouth area. It may also be applied on mild hemorrhoids or piles.

“I liked [the PM/oak gall gel formulation] from the first time I used it ... it has changed my life! I hadn’t been enjoying sex for some time because I felt loose and couldn’t feel much sensation. I didn’t like it whenever my husband initiated sex, so I gave excuses on many occasions. When I finally expressed how I felt to my husband, he was supportive. He had read about [the PM/oak gall gel formulation] in a women’s magazine, and suggested that we try it. I felt so much tighter and enjoyed our lovemaking that night. My life is happier now because of the gel; the difference it has made is tremendous.”

“[The PM/oak gall gel formulation] is wonderful, it is really effective. It has tightened my vagina and brings back the enjoyment we had on our first night together. I also find that I don’t tear as easily now, but if I do get a little tear on my vagina, [the PM/oak gall gel formulation] helps it to heal within a day.”

“I used to avoid sex because I was dry and sex was painful. I worried about not enjoying sex anymore, and not fulfilling my husband’s needs. I tried many remedies and products but none helped. [The PM/oak gall gel formulation] has given pleasure and satisfaction back to us again. I am not dry anymore. I am well lubricated, smooth and tight, my husband says I feel like a virgin!”

Note: Names withheld at the request of testimonial givers.

References

  1. Suwalak S, Voravuthikunchai SP. Morphological and ultrastructural changes in the cell structure of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 following treatment with Quercus infectoria nut galls. J Electron Microsc (Tokyo). 2009 Oct;58(5):315-20.
  2. Suntara A. The remedy pamphlet of Kwao Krua tuber of Luang Anusarnsuntarakromkarnphist, Chiangmai. Upatipongsa Press: Chiangmai, Thailand;1931.
  3. Kerr AFG. The Reputed Rejuvenator. J Siam Soc Natl Hist Suppl 1932;8:336-8.
  4. Sukhavachana D. Preliminary report of oestrogenic effect in Pueraria mirifica. Academic Conference. Siriraj Hospit Gaz (Thai). Feb 26, 1941. [Seminar]
  5. Ramnarine S, MacCallum J, M. Ritchie M. Phyto-oestrogens: do they have a role in breast cancer therapy? Proc Nutr Soc 2009;68(OCE):E93.
  6. Bergner D. What do women want? New York Times Magazine. January 25, 2009:28.


Will Block is the publisher and editorial director of Life Enhancement magazine.

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