December 15, 2021 6 min read

Original article published by: Medical News Today

Medically reviewed by Femi Aremu, PharmD — Written by Jenna Fletcher on November 29, 2021

11 natural and home remedies for erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction has many possible treatments, including prescription drugs, physical devices, and natural remedies. Do these methods work, and are they safe?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that refers to a recurrent inability to get or maintain an erection of sufficient rigidity and duration for sexual intercourse.

ED can be due to physical or psychological factors, such as problems with blood flow or anxiety over sexual performance.

It is not uncommon to experience problems with erections occasionally. However, if it happens routinely and disrupts a person’s life, they can try various treatments.

This article discusses the various ED treatment options, including natural remedies, alternative medicine, and prescription drugs. It also explores their risks.

ED happens when blood flow to the penis is limited. Determining its cause can help people find the most appropriate treatments.

In some cases, ED has a physical cause, such as a treatable health condition or circulation problem. Treating any underlying conditions will help. People can take steps to boost their circulation, such as doing regular exercise, quitting smoking if applicable, and making dietary changes.

A doctor may also recommend prescription ED drugs, such as sildenafil (Viagra).

ED can also happen due to stress, relationship factors, or emotional factors, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. Mental health treatments and relationship counseling can help.

Some people also try natural or alternative treatments, including over-the-counter (OTC) pills, herbal remedies, and acupuncture.

It is important to understand the possible risks associated with ED treatments, especially natural remedies, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved.

A person should speak with a doctor about treating ED.

Read more about pills for ED here.

While many natural remedies for ED are available in stores and online, none have received FDA approval.

The FDATrusted Source does not recommend using OTC products for ED because no authorities regulate them for safety or effectiveness. These products often contain undisclosed ingredients, inappropriate doses of prescription drugs, or different doses of ingredients than the label suggests.

The Urology Care Foundation agrees, saying that although supplements are popular and often cheaper than prescription drugs, they are not guaranteed to be safe or effective.

There are very few studies on the safety of natural remedies for ED. Some remedies have side effects varying from mild to severe.

Furthermore, a 2014 studyTrusted Source into four popular herbal substances used for ED found that uncontrolled availability of potentially harmful substances was a cause for public health concern. The researchers concluded that extensive study and monitoring are necessary.

The following list looks at some common natural remedies that people use for ED:

L-arginine

L-arginine is an amino acid, which is a building block of protein. It is a vasodilator, meaning that it can help open up the blood vessels. In theory, this could increase blood flow to the penis and help produce an erection.

A study from 2017Trusted Source reported that many people with ED had low L-arginine levels, which suggests the two may be linked.

However, scientific studies have not proven that taking L-arginine supplements can treat ED. More research is necessary before researchers know the safety and effectiveness of this remedy.

People should avoid taking L-arginine alongside prescription ED drugs, such as Viagra, as this combination can cause blood pressure to drop too low. It can also lead to headaches or flushing.

Side effects of L-arginine may include nausea, stomach cramps, low blood pressure, and increased blood sugar levels.

Propionyl-L-carnitine

An older 2004 studyTrusted Source on men with ED and diabetes found that taking propionyl-L-carnitine alongside sildenafil could improve erectile function better than taking sildenafil alone.

That said, more studies are needed before researchers know the actual safety and effectiveness of this treatment.

Side effects are usually mild and can include a skin rash, nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn. This substance may not be safe for people with vascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or liver cirrhosis, among other conditions.

Dehydroepiandrosterone

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) helps create sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Natural DHEA levels decrease as a person gets older, which may cause a decrease in sexual function.

While some studiesTrusted Source suggest that DHEA supplements could help with ED, othersTrusted Source have found no evidence of their benefit.

DHEA generally causes few side effects when people take it orally in recommended doses. Possible side effects can include fatigue, headaches, acne, and an irregular heartbeat.

Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba may increase blood flow to the penis, which could improve sexual desire and counter ED.

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)Trusted Source states that there is no solid evidence that ginkgo is beneficial for any health condition.

Side effects of this supplement include headaches, dizziness, stomach upset, palpitations, and constipation.

It can also increase the risk of bleeding and may be dangerous for people taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), or those with other bleeding disorders.

Ginseng

Ginseng, or Panax ginseng, is a popular home remedy. Certain chemicals in this plant may promote the relaxation of the body’s smooth muscles, helping produce an erection.

A 2012 studyTrusted Source suggested that ginseng berry extract could help treat mild to moderate ED, though more high-quality research is necessary to confirm this.

The most commonTrusted Source side effect of ginseng is insomnia. Other side effects include increased heart rate, high or low blood pressure, and headaches.

Read more about ginseng and ED here.

Yohimbine

Yohimbine, the main component of an African tree’s bark, is a traditional aphrodisiac.

The NCCIHTrusted Source report that there is not enough evidence that yohimbine from tree bark can treat ED.

Yohimbine hydrochloride, a different form of yohimbine, is available as a prescription drug for ED. This is a different product than dietary supplements made from tree bark.

Studies have linked yohimbine with serious side effects, such as heart attack and seizures. Other side effects include stomach problems, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

Horny goat weed

Epimedium grandiflorum, also known as horny goat weed, is a traditional remedy for increasing fertility.

A 2010 studyTrusted Source found that the active component of horny goat weed, icariin, may have positive effects if treating ED caused by nerve injury. However, researchers conducted this study on lab-grown nerve cells and rats with injured nerves.

This supplement is often well-tolerated, but there is not enough evidence to support its use. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and dry mouth.

Home remedies

Certain activities or a lack of activity can affect ED. People who have not already adopted the following lifestyle measures may find that they improve the symptoms of ED:

Regular exercise

Exercise can benefit ED by improving blood pressure, blood flow, mood, and stamina. It is also an effective method for improving overall health.

Read about the best exercises for ED here.

A healthy diet

A healthy diet helps keep the circulatory system and the rest of the body healthy. Eating a varied, nutrient-rich diet reduces the risk of heart disease, clogged arteries, obesity, and diabetes, which are risk factors for ED.

Read about foods for ED here.

Reduce smoking and alcohol intake

Smoking is a major risk factor for ED as it reduces blood flow to the penis. Drinking excess alcohol can also have an effect.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source recommend that males limit alcohol intake to two drinks per day and females limit theirs to one per day.

Reduce stress

Stress and anxiety can have a significant effect on sexual desire and erectile function. Common sources of stress include health, work, finances, and relationships.

Read about stress-relief products and natural ways to combat stress here.

Some people try alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and yoga, for ED. There are few studies available to support their effectiveness for the condition. However, they may help reduce stress, which could improve ED.

People may also benefit from the placebo effect. A 2009 studyTrusted Source found that taking an oral placebo pill improved ED symptoms as much as taking an ED drug.

Prescription medications can increase blood flow to the penis. The four main FDA-approved drugs for ED are:

These drugs, known as PDE5 inhibitors, relax the muscles in the penis to enhance blood flow.

Side effects of prescription ED drugs can include:

Prescription ED drugs are not safe for everybody, including people with very low blood pressure, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or liver or kidney disease.

People who are taking nitrate-containing medications should also avoid these drugs.


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