Erectile dysfunction (ED) is commonly called impotence. It’s a condition in which a man can’t achieve or maintain an erection during sexual performance. Symptoms may also include reduced sexual desire or libido. Your doctor is likely to diagnose you with ED if the condition lasts for more than a few weeks or months. ED affects as many as 30 million men in the United States.
Standard ED treatments include prescription medications, vacuum pumps, implants, and surgery, but many men prefer natural options. Research has found that some natural options can improve ED symptoms. Read on to learn about natural options that have research to back them up.
Natural Remedies for ED (Erectile Dysfunction)
1. Diet to To Help Improve Libido
Obesity, nutrient deficiencies and eating inflammatory foods can also increase the odds of impotence. Of the natural remedies for impotence, this is one that can also help boost your health in other important ways. Here are foods that can help reverse some of these problems and promote better circulation, heart health and even mental well-being:
- High fiber diet — High fiber foods like nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables support hormones and detoxification which can improve impotence.
- Foods high in vitamin E — A diet rich in vitamin E, such as wheat germ and green leafy vegetables, will help improve blood flow.
- Foods high in zinc — Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, beef, lamb, and spinach are good sources of zinc that help improve testosterone.
- Nuts & seeds — Watercress and sesame seeds — Both can improve libido, so try to consume some every day.
- Brazil nuts — These nuts are high in selenium, which plays a role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
The following foods may make symptoms of impotence worse by increasing emotional stress or anxiety, raising inflammation and even causing gut trouble that interferes with nutrient absorption:
- Refined vegetable oils — These increase inflammation and can worsen underlying causes of impotence.
- Trans fats — Hydrogenated fats found in fried, fast or packaged foods increase inflammation. This inflammation can affect the underlying causes of impotence.
- Packaged, synthetic foods — Chemicals in these foods may affect sexual performance.
- Too much caffeine — Overindulgence in caffeine can affect sexual performance.
- Too much alcohol — Too much alcohol can cause fatigue, increase anxiety or depression and interfere with hormonal balance.
- Red Ginseng — One small randomized trial found evidence that red ginseng may offer modest improvements in ED symptoms (as compared with placebo). A meta-anaylsis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology states, “Traditionally red ginseng has been used to restore and enhance normal well-being, and is often referred to as an adaptogenic….Possible mechanisms of action of red ginseng include hormonal effects similar to those of testosterone. Others have postulated that red ginseng might induce relaxation of the smooth muscles.” (5)
- L-arginine (1,000 milligrams 2x daily) — Helps with blood vessel dilation and improves blood flow.
Ginkgo biloba (120milligrams 2x daily) — May improve blood flow.
- DHEA (25–50 milligrams daily) Best when taken under the supervision of a doctor, this hormone can help improve testosterone levels.
- Maca root (500 milligrams 3x daily) — Research shows this adaptogen herb may act like an aphrodisiac to help increase sexual desire and balance hormones.
- Niacin (250 milligrams 3x daily) — Vitamin B3 (also called niacin) is a vasodilator that helps improve blood flow and supports energy levels.
3. Essential Oils for Impotence
What essential oils are good for erectile dysfunction? Essential oils that may help improve circulation and increase libido include:
- Ylang ylang
These natural remedies for impotence are not only effective at boosting libido, but they also smell lovely. You can inhale these from the bottle, rub them on your abdomen or legs mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil, or diffuse them in the air. Considered to be natural aphrodisiacs, these plant-derived oils have been shown to naturally increase the libido of both men and women for hundreds of years. They may even be able to improve your mood and outlook on life thanks to the calming but uplifting effect they have on the mind.
4. Regular Exercise
Exercises that increase human growth hormone (HGH) — such as weight training and burst training (similar to high intensity interval training, or HIIT) — can greatly improve circulation, help with reducing stress and therefore be beneficial for lowering occurrence of impotence. Exercise is also a great way to manage stress, boost mental health and prevent obesity. Like eating a healthy diet, regular exercise is one of the natural remedies for impotence that will improve your overall health.
5. Stress Management & Rest
Physical and emotional stress — whether over-exercising, under-sleeping or just dealing with everyday stressors like work and a busy schedule — causes an increase in “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline. Stress can lower desire for sex. This is because stress can contribute to fatigue or preoccupation with other tasks. It can also significantly affect blood flow by increasing inflammation.
However, Other factors that “stress” the body can also increase your risk for ED. These include: substance abuse, using marijuana, smoking cigarettes, depression, anxiety and low self esteem. Cigarette smoking — or using nicotine — leads to constricted blood vessels, which has negative effects for sexual health. Other mental/emotional obstacles can cause less desire for sex and decrease testosterone. Several ways to help manage stress include:
- Decreasing alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking and using nicotine or other drugs
- Sleeping 7–9 hours every night
- Taking time each day to rest, pray, meditate or even nap
- Spending more time outdoors to unwind
- Exercising for the mental health benefits
- Engaging in uplifting social activities like joining a sports team, volunteer group, church, etc.
This supplement is extracted from the bark of the African yohimbe tree. Some studies have shown positive effects on sexual performance with use of this drug.
However, the American Urological Association doesn’t recommend yohimbe as an ED treatment. This is because there’s not a lot of evidence proving it works. Its side effects might be damaging to health. These include increased blood pressure and heart rate, irritability, and tremor.
If you decide you want to try yohimbe, be sure to talk to your doctor beforehand.
Though studies are mixed, many show positive results when acupuncture is used to treat ED. A 1999 study, for example, found that acupuncture improved the quality of erections and restored sexual activity in 39 percent of participants.
A later study published in 2003 reported that 21 percent of ED patients who received acupuncture had improved erections. Other studies have shown conflicting results, but this treatment has potential and may work for you.
The risks of acupuncture are low if provided by a licensed acupuncturist. Acupuncture shows promise for treating ED, but more studies are needed.
Called the herbal Viagra, Panax ginseng (red ginseng) has solid research behind it. Researchers reviewed seven studies of red ginseng and ED in 2008. Dosages ranged from 600 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) three times daily. They concluded there was “suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”
More current research is examining how red ginseng influences ED. Ginsenosides are one element present in Panax ginseng extract that have action at the cellular level to improve erection.
The action of Panax ginseng appears to be most effective for those with high lipids in their blood and metabolic syndrome. This herb is known to have anti-inflammatory action, improve lung function, and improve blood flow in other diseases — all characteristics that may reduce ED.