What is erectile dysfunction?
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.
What causes erectile dysfunction?
ED is often a symptom, not a condition. An erection is a result of complex multi system processes in a man’s body. xxxual arousal involves interaction between your:
- nervous system
A condition like diabetes or stress can affect these parts and functions and can cause ED. Research shows that ED is mostly due to problems with the blood vessels. In fact, plaque buildup in the arteries causes ED in about 40 percent of men over 50 years old.
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
1. Panax ginseng
Called the herbal Viagra, Panax ginseng (red ginseng) has solid research behind it. Researchers reviewed seven studies Trusted Source 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 as well as
- overall well-being
Clinical studies show significant improvement in:
- penile rigidity
- duration of erection
- improved libido
- overall satisfaction
The action of Panax ginseng appears to be most effective Trusted Source for those with high lipids in their blood and metabolic syndrome. This herb is known Trusted Source to have anti-inflammatory action, improve lung function, and improve blood flow in other diseases — all characteristics that may reduce ED.
2. Rhodiola rosea
One small study indicated that Rhodiola rosea may be helpful. Twenty-six out of 35 men were given 150 to 200 mg a day for three months. They experienced substantially improved sexual function. This herb has been shown to improve energy and reduce fatigue. More studies are needed to understand action and ensure safety.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a natural hormone produced by your adrenal glands. It can be converted to both estrogen and testosterone in the body. Scientists make the dietary supplement from wild yam and soy.
The influential Massachusetts male aging studyTrusted Source showed that men with ED were more likely to have low levels of DHEA. In 2009, 40 men with ED participated in another study in which half receiving 50 mg DHEA and half receiving a placebo once a day for six months. Those receiving the DHEA were more likely to achieve and maintain an erection.
More recently, DHEA has been identified as an option for treatment of ED for men with concurrent diabetes. ED commonly affects these men because of hormonal issues as well as diabetes complications that interfere with blood flow to organs.
Benefits Of DHEA In Men
In men, insufficient levels of DHEA can have a dramatic effect on mood, energy levels, physical strength, sexual arousal and sexual performance.
Both libido and erectile dysfunction can benefit from DHEA supplementation.
DHEA is the precursor to testosterone and thus can raise testosterone levels in aging men. Even more important, DHEA may increase the amount of free-testosterone, which correlates more closely to benefits because free-testosterone can be used by the cells, while bound testosterone is prevented from entering the cell.
This means that even if testosterone levels remain unchanged with DHEA supplementation, free-testosterone may go up, which can result in benefits despite TOTAL testosterone remaining unchanged.
Benefits Of DHEA In Women
As mentioned, DHEA deficiencies are usually more pronounced in women than in men and this can lead to issues with bone loss, decreased muscle strength, lower energy levels, mood imbalances, poor libido, and increased risk of heart disease.
One study in post-menopausal women over the age of 60 found that bone mineral density increased with long-term supplementation with DHEA.
Another study found that women who supplemented with 30-50 mg of DHEA daily enjoyed improved energy levels, mood, and feelings of well-being!
Yet another study found that women in their 70s enjoyed improvements in sexual desire, arousal, and enjoyment with DHEA supplementation.
L-arginine is an amino acid naturally present in your body. It helps make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels to facilitate a successful erection and is essential for healthy sexual functioning.
Researchers studied Trusted Source the effects of L-arginine on ED. Thirty-one percent of men with ED taking 5 grams of L-arginine per day experienced significant improvements in sexual function.
A second studyT rusted Source showed that L-arginine combined with pycnogenol, a plant product from tree bark, restored sexual ability to 80 percent of participants after two months. Ninety-two percent had restored sexual ability after three months.
Another placebo-controlled study Trusted Source found that L-arginine in combination with other medications was well-tolerated, safe, and effective for mild-to-moderate ED.
Though studies are mixed, many show positive results when acupuncture is used to treat ED. A 1999 study Trusted Source, 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 Trusted Source 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 Trusted Source are low if provided by a licensed acupuncturist. Acupuncture shows promise for treating ED, but more studies are needed.