Other Proposed Natural Treatments
- Avena sativa
- Butea superba
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Diindolylmethane (DIM)
- Horny Goat Weed ( Epimedium grandiflorum )
- Maca ( Lepidium meyenii )
- Macuna pruriens
- Pine Bark Extract and L-Arginine
- Muira Puama (Potency Wood)
- Polypodium vulgare
- Rhodiola rosea
- Saw Palmetto
- Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine
- Tribulus terrestris
- Velvet Antler
Impotence, or erectile dysfunction, is the inability to achieve an erection. Impotence may occur for any of at least 15 possible causes, including diabetes, drug side effects, pituitary tumors, hardening of the arteries, hormonal imbalances, and psychological factors. A few of these conditions respond to specific treatment. For example, if a blood pressure drug is causing impotence, the best approach is to change drugs. If a pituitary tumor is secreting the hormone prolactin, treating that tumor may result in immediate improvement. However, in most cases, conventional treatment of impotence is nonspecific.
The drugs Viagra and Cialis have revolutionized treatment for erectile dysfunction. These medications work by increasing tissue sensitivity to the blood-vessel-dilating substance nitric oxide (NO) in the penis. Older methods include mechanical devices that utilize a vacuum to produce an erection, drugs for self-injection, and implantation of penile prostheses.
Proposed Treatments for Impotence
Korean Red Ginseng
For more information, including safety issues, see the full Ginseng article.
The substance nitric oxide (NO) plays a role in the development of an erection. Drugs like Viagra increase the body's sensitivity to the natural rise in NO that occurs with sexual stimulation. A simpler approach might be to raise NO levels, and one way to accomplish this involves use of the amino acid L-arginine. Oral arginine supplements may increase nitric oxide levels in the penis and elsewhere. Based on this, L-arginine has been advertised as "natural Viagra." However, there is as yet little evidence that it works. Drugs based on raising nitric oxide levels in the penis have not worked out for pharmaceutical developers; the body seems to simply adjust to the higher levels and maintain the same level of response.
Note : Do not use the drug yohimbine (or the herb yohimbe) except under physician supervision, as it presents a number of safety risks.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full L-arginine article.
Carnitine has also shown promise for treating male infertility. For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Carnitine article.
Many other herbs are also reputed to improve sexual function in men , including ashwagandha , Avena sativa (oat straw), catuaba, cordyceps , damiana , diindolylmethane (DIM), eleutherococcus (so-called “Siberian ginseng”), L-citrulline , Macuna pruriens , molybdenum , muira puama (potency wood), pygeum , Polypodium vulgare , Rhodiola rosea , saw palmetto , schisandra , suma , traditional Chinese herbal medicine , and Tribulus terrestris . However, there is as yet no real evidence that they offer any benefits.
Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers not to purchase or consume a several brands of dietary supplements after samples were found adulterated with the prescription drug tadalafil (Cialis), an analogue of sildenafil (Viagra). The products named in the warning are SIGRA, STAMINA Rx, STAMINA Rx for Women, Y-Y, Spontane ES, and Uroprin (all manufactured by NVE, Inc., and distributed by Hi-Tech). For more information, see the FDA's Public Health Advisory on this subject.
The herb yohimbe is the source of the drug yohimbine, which has been shown to be modestly better than placebo for impotence. However, due to many drug interactions and other risks, we do not recommend using yohimbine except under the supervision of a physician. Because there is no agency regulating herbal product quality and labeling, the herb yohimbe presents even more risks, such as unpredictable yohimbine content.
The supplement androstenedione , often taken for male sexual dysfunction in the belief that it increases testosterone levels, actually appears to increase estrogen levels in men, and might therefore increase problems with erectile function.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 12/2015 -
- Update Date: 12/15/2015 -