A health treatment that is not classified as standard Western medical practice is referred to as "alternative" or "complementary." Alternative treatments include nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, and acupuncture, for example.
Some men may choose to use alternative treatments in addition to traditional treatments for ED. If you are considering an alternative form of treatment for ED, seek the advice of a health care provider before getting started.
Nutritional Supplements: nutritional supplements including the amino acid arginine, bioflavonoids, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and flaxseed meal have been used to improve erectile function. In addition, certain ED patients with low levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) showed improvement in erectile function after receiving supplemental doses of DHEA. However, because the long-term safety of DHEA is not known, most experts do not recommend its use.
Herbal Remedies: Asian ginseng and Ginkgo biloba are believed to improve erectile function in some men. However, consult a doctor before taking any herbal supplements to ensure they are safe.
Acupuncture: an ancient Chinese method of healing that involves sticking very fine, solid needles into specific points on the body, acupuncture stimulates the body's ability to resist or overcome illnesses and conditions by correcting "imbalances." Acupuncture has helped some men with ED.
If you are having erectile problems, consult a doctor to determine the cause and learn about all your treatment options.
Common Sense Measures
Keep in mind that because most alternative and complementary treatments are not regulated, it is difficult to know what you are getting. Here are some tips to follow when considering using herbal remedies for erectile dysfunction.
Talk to your doctor about any herbal products you are considering before trying them.
If you experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, or skin rashes, stop taking the herbal product and notify your doctor.
Avoid preparations made with more than one herb.
Beware of commercial claims of what herbal products can do. Look for scientific-based sources of information.
Select brands carefully. Only purchase brands that list the herb's common and scientific name, the name and address of the manufacturer, a batch and lot number, expiration date, dosage guidelines, and potential side effects.
Above all, if taking over-the-counter supplements, be sure your doctor is informed before combining with prescription drugs he may recommend.