dysfunction (ED) is usually a treatable condition. Along with traditional
medication and therapy, there are also complementary and alternative medicine
(CAM) therapies for ED. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to support the use
of most CAM therapies for ED. In fact, some therapies may actually be dangerous
for your health.
Talk to your doctor before you take any supplements or
alternative therapies for your ED. Many supplements can interact dangerously
with medications. Remember that even herbal or “natural” remedies can be
There are a number of herbs and supplements for use in men
with ED. However, the overall quality of the studies evaluating these
treatments has been low. Therefore, evidence for the effectiveness and safety
of these therapies is limited. Many of these therapies have known risks, and
there’s a possibility that other risks are yet to be discovered. Always use CAM
therapies with caution.
red ginseng (panax ginseng)
Several studies suggest that ginseng may be able to help
men with ED. However, ginseng can cause low blood sugar and be dangerous for
diabetics. It may also interact badly with some antidepressants.
L-arginine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in
certain foods. It’s important for nitrous oxide (NO) synthesis.
Good NO synthesis is important for erectile function. It
increases penile blood flow by relaxing muscles and vessels. Viagra and similar
medications work by altering NO levels.
There’s mixed evidence that L-arginine supplements may be
able to help with ED. Some studies have found positive results, while others
There’s some evidence that bark from the yohimbe tree can
help with ED. The bark contains a substance called yohimbine. It’s been
traditionally used in Africa as an aphrodisiac. Today, a pharmaceutical form of
yohimbine (called yohimbine hydrochloride) is being studied to treat erectile
dysfunction in men. However, it can cause severe side effects, including high
blood pressure, tremors, and anxiety.
Ginkgo is an herb that’s been used medicinally for thousands
of years to treat a variety of ailments. This supplement may improve penile
blood flow. Additionally, some reports suggest that ginkgo can increase
bleeding risk. This makes it particularly dangerous for people using blood
thinners. Other studies, including one from 2011,
found no evidence of
increased bleeding while using ginkgo.
DHEA is a hormone made by the human body. It’s a building
block for testosterone. According to a study
published in Urology,
this supplement may be able to help men whose ED is related to having low
testosterone. However, there’s no definitive evidence of this benefit. It’s
clear that DHEA can cause various side effects, including liver damage and
acne. Long-term use of DHEA can also cause hormonal imbalances.
acid and vitamin E
There’s limited evidence suggesting that these vitamins
can help some men with ED who are also taking sildenafil (Viagra). These
vitamins are usually safe in small doses.
Zinc may improve ED in men who have a zinc deficiency.
However, too much zinc can harm your immune system.
This traditional Chinese treatment uses fine needles. A
practitioner inserts the needles into specific parts of the body to stimulate
various pressure points. Practitioners believe that this can correct imbalances
in Chi (energy) and treat illness. Acupuncture is generally considered safe.
There’s a small amount of research
to show that acupuncture may be able to treat ED. However, the quality of the
studies has been low, and little scientific evidence exists to support the use
of acupuncture for ED.
A number of over-the-counter herbal supplements claim to
treat ED. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, you should avoid products labeled as
“herbal Viagra.” These supplements can increase blood flow and cause dangerous
drops in blood pressure. Risk may be particularly high for men who are using
nitrates. Herbal Viagra can also interact with other prescription drugs. Herbal
Viagra products may contain potentially toxic compounds that aren’t listed on