Natural Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction
When you’re living with erectile dysfunction (ED), you’ll consider doing just about anything to get your sex life back on track. Eating roots like ginseng -- fine. Drinking special juices like pomegranate -- tasty. Even becoming a human pin-cushion for a treatment like acupuncture -- bring it on.
But do any of these things really work? Eric Laborde, MD, a spokesman for the American Urological Association, is skeptical.
“There is a huge placebo effect with erectile dysfunction,” he says. “I could give you anything and tell you it’ll work and it will in the short term.” For that reason, he says, what little studies that have been done on herbal remedies are less than convincing.
On the other hand, Geo Espinosa, director of the Integrative Urological Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, says there are some natural alternatives to popular ED medicines. Take them with your doctor’s OK, and they can help you get and keep an erection.
“It’s not like you go into the forest and just eat a leaf,” he says. “You don’t take them right before sex. But there are real natural approaches that work by building up sexual health over time.”
These natural alternatives to ED drugs are widely used. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese needle therapy is said to boost blood flow. It’s most often used to treat chronic headaches and back pain. But some men have found it works for erectile dysfunction.
While some studies back up acupuncture’s claim to work for ED, the evidence is rather scant.
Arginine: It's found naturally in food, and it relaxes blood vessels and is used to treat heart problems. Doctors think it boosts circulation to the penis, but Espinosa says he doesn’t recommend it much because the body metabolizes it so quickly. “You need a lot and you need to take it frequently for it to work,” he says.
Instead, Espinosa suggests taking L-citrulline, which helps your body make more arginine. But, he warns, high doses can lower your blood pressure.