The most common natural remedies for ED include those derived from plants and herbs, which some cultures have used for many years. Although there have been very few studies conducted on the safety of these natural remedies, some of them have been found to have side effects that vary from mild to severe.
Causes of erectile dysfunction
“Just because there is evidence doesn’t mean it’s good evidence,” says Andrew McCullough, MD, associate professor of clinical urology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, and one of the original clinical investigators for the ED drug Viagra (sildenafil). “And before men with ED start down the naturopathic route, it’s smart to make sure that there isn’t some underlying medical condition that needs to be corrected.” Moreover, it is estimated that 30 million American men have erectile dysfunction, and 70% of cases are a result of a potentially deadly condition like atherosclerosis, kidney disease, vascular disease, neurological disease, or diabetes. Additionally, ED can also be caused by certain medications, surgical injury, and psychological problems.
Some natural remedies include:
- L-arginine: Some evidence suggests high doses of L-arginine improve erectile dysfunction by helping blood vessels to open wider, which improves blood flow to the penis. Side effects are generally considered mild but may include cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. L-arginine should not be taken with Viagra, a prescription drug that treats ED.
- Propionyl-L-carnitine: Some studies show that propionyl-L-carnitine, when combined with Viagra, could improve erectile function better than when taking Viagra alone. Propionyl-L-carnitine is generally considered safe when used under supervision of a doctor.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): There is some evidence that suggests that DHEA increases libido in women and has a positive effect on men with ED. DHEA appears to be safe at low doses, however, it may cause acne in some cases.
- Ginkgo: Ginkgo may increase blood flow to the penis, which could improve sexual desire and ED. However, this supplement might increase the risk of bleeding. People who are taking blood thinners or who have a bleeding disorder should speak to their doctor before taking gingko.
- Ginseng: There are several types of ginseng available. Many of them have been shown to have a positive effect on ED. Some forms of ginseng may have negative side effects including insomnia.
- Yohimbine: The main component of an African tree bark, yohimbine is probably one of the most problematic of all natural remedies for ED. Some research suggests that yohimbine can improve a type of sexual dysfunction that is linked with a drug used to treat depression. However, studies have linked yohimbine to a number of side effects, which can include anxiety, increased blood pressure, and a fast, irregular heartbeat. Like all natural remedies, yohimbine should only be used after advice and under supervision from a doctor.
- Horny goat weed (epimedium): Supposedly, there are substances in the leaves of this herb that improve sexual performance. Epimedium has not been studied in people, and there are some suggestions that it might affect heart function.
Talk to your doctor
If you have symptoms of ED, it’s important to check with your doctor before trying any treatments on your own. This is because ED can be a sign of other health problems. For instance, heart disease or high cholesterol could cause ED symptoms. With a diagnosis, your doctor could recommend a number of steps that would likely improve both your heart health and your ED. These steps include lowering your cholesterol, reducing your weight, or taking medications to unclog your blood vessels.
If other health issues aren’t found to be the cause of your ED, your doctor will likely prescribe some common treatments. However, you may also choose natural options — just be sure to discuss them with your doctor first.
Whichever route you take, keep in mind that ED is a common condition that’s very treatable. With some trial and error, you’re likely to find a treatment that works for you and your partner.
It’s important to remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate quality, strength, purity, or packaging of herbs. If you choose to take herbs, be sure to get them from a reliable source.
The Real Cause of Erectile Dysfunction Revealed…
The number one thing you need to understand about erectile dysfunction is it’s not actually a disease, it’s a symptom of another (and usually worse) problem that’s going on within your body. The most common medical conditions that trigger impotence in men are type II diabetes, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and prostate disease. And the two underlying factors which cause and contribute to erectile dysfunction in virtually all cases are poor blood circulation and low testosterone (sex hormone) levels. The problem is, all of the medical conditions listed above cause poor blood circulation and low testosterone levels! That’s why if you have erectile dysfunction there’s a very good chance you’ll also have one or more of these ailments (either diagnosed or undiagnosed) as well. What’s more, the pharmaceutical medications used to treat these disorders can cause further problems for an ED sufferers already ailing libido.
Here’s a few of the negative complications these conditions and their prescribed medications will cause in regards to erectile dysfunction and loss of libido…
- Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the most popular first signs and symptoms of impotence. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a man to go and see his doctor about erectile dysfunction and be diagnosed with type II diabetes! Elevated blood glucose levels damage the nerves and blood vessels which are responsible for healthy blood circulation and sexual arousal in the penis. The most common side effect of diabetes medications is erectile dysfunction.
- High Cholesterol: High cholesterol inhibits the production of a compound called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases blood flow to the penis and is necessary for men to achieve and maintain an erection. Most common side effect of cholesterol lowering drugs (fibrates) is impotence.
- High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure causes blood vessel damage throughout the body – including the penis – which in turn contributes significantly to erectile dysfunction. One of the side effects of blood pressure medications (beta blockers) is impotence.
- Depression: Men who suffer from depression usually suffer with impotence due to performance anxiety issues and loss of libido. A common side effect of depression and anxiety medications is also erectile dysfunction.
- Prostate Disease: Prostate disease and impotence go together like a horse and cart. The swelling and inflammation caused by prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the main causes of erectile dysfunction. And of course, one of the main side effects of BPH prostate medications (alpha blockers) or prostate surgery is erectile dysfunction and loss of libido!
Lifestyle changes can improve erectile dysfunction
No matter what erectile dysfunction treatment or treatments (whether herbal remedies or not) a man ultimately decides upon, experts say it’s important to eat healthily and to avoid smoking and heavy drinking. Moreover, adequate exercise, stress reduction, and sleep can improve erectile dysfunction in many. In addition, says Lamm, “A loving, receptive, and responsive partner is a home run. After all, this is still a couple’s issue.”
Whether you currently suffer from ED or are hoping to sidestep this condition, try these tips to overcome ED for better health and a better sex life.
- Start walking. According to one Harvard study, just 30 minutes of walking a day was linked with a 41% drop in risk for ED. Other research suggests that moderate exercise can help restore sexual performance in obese middle-aged men with ED.
- Eat right. In the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, eating a diet rich in natural foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish — with fewer red and processed meat and refined grains — decreased the likelihood of ED.
- Pay attention to your vascular health. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides can all damage arteries in the heart (causing heart attack), in the brain (causing stroke), and leading to the penis (causing ED). An expanding waistline also contribute. Check with your doctor to find out whether your vascular system — and thus your heart, brain, and penis — is in good shape or needs a tune-up through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medications.
- Size matters, so get slim and stay slim. A trim waistline is one good defense — a man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely to have ED than one with a 32-inch waist. Losing weight can help fight erectile dysfunction, so getting to a healthy weight and staying there is another good strategy for avoiding or fixing ED. Obesity raises risks for vascular disease and diabetes, two major causes of ED. And excess fat interferes with several hormones that may be part of the problem as well.
- Move a muscle, but we’re not talking about your biceps. A strong pelvic floor enhances rigidity during erections and helps keep blood from leaving the penis by pressing on a key vein. In a British trial, three months of twice-daily sets of Kegel exercises (which strengthen these muscles), combined with biofeedback and advice on lifestyle changes — quitting smoking, losing weight, limiting alcohol — worked far better than just advice on lifestyle changes.