"Just because there is evidence doesn't mean it's good evidence," says Andrew McCullough, MD, associate professor of clinical urology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, and one of the original clinical investigators for the ED drug Viagra (sildenafil). "And before men with ED start down the naturopathic route, it's smart to make sure that there isn't some underlying medical condition that needs to be corrected." Moreover, it is estimated that 30 million American men have erectile dysfunction, and 70% of cases are a result of a potentially deadly condition like atherosclerosis, kidney disease, vascular disease, neurological disease, or diabetes. Additionally, ED can also be caused by certain medications, surgical injury, and psychological problems.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat ED and impotence in China. A recent review of studies on acupuncture for erectile dysfunction was published in the British Journal of Urology International. After reviewing four studies, the authors concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to say that acupuncture worked. However, some experts believe it's worth trying. "Acupuncture can work," says Gilbert. "It probably works best to treat the psychological component of ED. There is very little downside to trying it."
Another potential cause of ED is prediabetes and diabetes—35-50 percent of men with diabetes also have ED. Chronically elevated blood sugar damages the arteries (there’s the vascular connection again) and nerves, including those that stimulate the penis. Prediabetes and diabetes are also generally accompanied by excess weight, especially around the mid-section. These excess fat cells convert testosterone into estrogen, negatively altering the testosterone to estrogen ratio. This excess estrogen, independent of prediabetes and diabetes, interferes with the hormonal cascade necessary to produce and maintain an erection. Although many men may reach for a testosterone booster, a more effective means is to improve the body’s metabolism and elimination of estrogen and to lose excess weight around the middle. To support healthy blood sugar balance and estrogen metabolism try:
Like garlic, onions too help treat ED. In a study conducted on male rats, fresh onion juice was found to have improved copulatory behavior and cured medicine-induced sexual dysfunction.8 They are also believed to help treat involuntary loss of semen during sleep or other times. Studies also show that like garlic, onions too offer some protection against testicular oxidative damage and spermiotoxicity.9
On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional. No statement herein is to be construed as a diagnosis, treatment, preventative, or cure for any disease, disorder or abnormal physical state. The statements herein have not been evaluated by the Foods and Drugs Administration or Health Canada. Dr. Marchione and the doctors on the Bel Marra Health Editorial Team are compensated by Bel Marra Health for their work in creating content, consulting along with formulating and endorsing products.
Much of the evidence shows high rates of vitamin D deficiency in patients with erectile dysfunction. In fact, one study of 3,400 participants found that men with vitamin D deficiency were 32% more likely to have trouble with erections when all other risk factors were controlled for. It’s a little on the nose that you need vitamin D for your “D,” but hey—science can be funny too.
In a 2005 study, three months of twice-daily sets of kegel exercises combined with biofeedback and advice on lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and limiting alcohol, worked far better than just giving the participants advice. “Wearing tight pants will affect impotence along with some other medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease,” which can also affect a man’s degree of impotence, Dr. Jennifer Burns, specializing in family practice with an emphasis on gastrointestinal health at the BienEtre Center, told Medical Daily.
Another age-old therapy for ED is acupuncture. This is an ancient Chinese treatment where thin needles are inserted into specific points of the body to relieve all kinds of illnesses. Acupuncture has been used to treat ED for years. Studies show that acupuncture improves erection as well as in the treatment of erectile dysfunction with psychological cause.18
According to historians, ancient Egyptians used garlic to boost their stamina. While they didn’t have modern-day science to confirm that it actually worked, they were most certainly onto something. Researchers have confirmed that consuming the plant helps stop the formation of new fatty deposits, called nanoplaques, inside arterial walls. Yup, that includes the arteries leading to your penis, too. Keep your heart healthy and your erections strong by adding the kitchen staple to your weekly dishes.
DHEA. DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a natural hormone that the body uses to make the male hormone testosterone. DHEA and testosterone decrease with age, just as ED increases with age, so it seems that taking DHEA might protect against ED. But Harris says that "it is unlikely that taking DHEA would raise your testosterone enough to make much difference." DHEA should not be used by people with liver problems; it also has many side effects.
Intensive lifestyle changes that include a Mediterranean type diet, circuit-type resistance training, with 15- to 60-second rest between sessions has shown to improve erectile score in a randomized trial. Men in the intervention group had a significant decrease in glucose, insulin, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, and a substantial increase in HDL cholesterol.15
Long considered an aphrodisiac by the Chinese, ginseng may do more than just rev your engine. A 2013 South Korean study found that taking the herb for just a few weeks improved guys’ performance in the bedroom, including helping them last longer before finishing. Meanwhile, a study in Spermatogenesis found that ginseng can also help make for harder, longer-lasting erections and improve testosterone levels, which in turn boosts libido. “Ginseng is a promising herbal therapy for ED because it helps promote relaxation of smooth muscle in the penis, increase dopamine levels in the brain, and increase pressure in the cavernosal nerves of the penis which helps nitric oxide synthesis,” Walker explains.
If seafood isn’t your thing — or the Casanova Breakfast Plan doesn’t work with your budget — know that fortified breakfast cereals are also good sources of B12. According to the USDA, healthy cereals such as Kellogg’s All-Bran, Special K, Smart Start and Whole Grain Total provide a full day’s allowance. Check the nutrition facts and opt for whole grains, which can help lower cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, or clogged and constricted arteries, which inhibits blood flow. That’s dangerous for your heart, but guess which artery-rich organ you’ll probably notice it in first?
B-vitamin complex helps to support normal energy production and is also essential for supporting the normal functioning of the body during times of stress. Stress quickly depletes the body’s reserves of the B vitamins. Look for a B-complex containing 20-50 mg of vitamins B1, B2, and B3. The other B vitamins should be included in their relative proportions.
Some scholarly minds believe it wasn’t an apple, but a pomegranate with which Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden. She was smart: A recent study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research discovered that pomegranate juice, rich in antioxidants that support blood flow, can help improve erectile dysfunction. Though this study was funded by POM Wonderful, animal studies have also shown that the elixir improves long-term erectile response, so it’s definitely worth a shot–literally. Knock a shot back or water your juice down a bit: One cup of tart POM Wonderful packs 31 grams of sugar.
Yohimbe. Before Viagra and the other prescription erectile dysfunction drugs became available, doctors sometimes prescribed a derivative of the herb yohimbe (yohimbine hydrochloride) to their patients suffering from ED. But experts say the medication is not particularly effective, and it can cause jitteriness and other problems. "It's not a great drug," says McCullough. "And I suspect the herb is not as potent as the pharmaceutical version." What's more, evidence shows that yohimbe is associated with high blood pressure, anxiety, headache, and other health problems. Experts discourage its use.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “because erectile dysfunction is caused by a complex set of psychosocial, neurologic, and vascular factors, a specific cause in a patient may remain ambiguous.” The root causes are often related to a blockage or dysfunction of blood vessels. For example, ED can be due to conditions like atherosclerosis or diabetes, hormonal imbalances or problems related to mental health. It’s been found that common causes typically include one or more of the following factors: (2)
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Feeling fatigued, very stressed, depressed or dealing with another mood-related issue that can lower libido. Sources of stress and diminished quality of life — such as “deteriorating economic position,” unhappiness with one’s job or other aspects that lower emotional health — are believed to be major causes for sexual dysfunction in both men and women
Many are quick to pull the trigger on the doctor’s prescribed solutions such as Viagra or Cialis rather than seeking out natural erection foods that can alleviate erectile problems, but the honest truth is that neither one of those will fix the underlying problems causing the weakened erections. Sure they work in most cases, but it’s always good to remember that they deliver a chemical erection which your body still cannot naturally produce.
Size matters, so get slim and stay slim. A trim waistline is one good defense — a man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely to have ED than one with a 32-inch waist. Losing weight can help fight erectile dysfunction, so getting to a healthy weight and staying there is another good strategy for avoiding or fixing ED. Obesity raises risks for vascular disease and diabetes, two major causes of ED. And excess fat interferes with several hormones that may be part of the problem as well.
Qigong is a form of breathing exercises commonly practised in Asia to maintain health (53). In a cross-sectional population-based comparison study in Taiwan, individuals practising Qigong demonstrate higher SF-36 scores in the domains of physical functioning, role limitations due to physical problems, bodily pain, general health and vitality (54). Techniques to concentrate the energy or qi in the pelvis or genitals are regularly practised, but the effects of Qigong on ED have not been studied.
Besides mammalian organs, insects and arthropods are also consumed as aphrodisiacs in Eastern medicine. These include scorpions, spiders, beetles, flies and other bugs (32). Penile erections can be observed following administration of neurotoxins as it causes repetitive firing of the somatic, sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons, resulting in autonomic and neuromuscular over-excitation. Scorpions are often used as an ingredient found in herbal wines. However, there is a general lack of literature regarding the consumption of scorpion neurotoxins for potency.
Men looking to boost their sperm quality should head to the fish counter, research suggests. Sperm size and shape — one marker used to evaluate male infertility — was better in men who ate the most white meat fish as compared to men who ate the least, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed. And total sperm count was about 34 percent higher among men who ate the most dark meat fish, like salmon and tuna, than men who ate the least amount of fish. Meanwhile, men who reported eating one to three servings of processed meat had worse sperm morphology (shape) than men who ate the fewest servings. Click here to discover How Tilapia is Worse Than Bacon!!!
In TCM, the meridian system is thought to represent a path through which the life energy qi flows and as discussed in earlier section, the “Jing” (kidney) qi plays an important role in penile erection. Acupuncture helps to correct the imbalances to relieve physical symptoms by stimulating various meridian points. The Shensu (BL23), Zusanli (ST36) and Neiguan (PC6) points represents important acupoints for penis stimulation and thus has a positive homeostatic effect on the autonomic nervous system, and potentially modulate NO release (55,56). While some studies have showed up to a third of patients reported improvement in penile erection and sexual activity, systematic review showed insufficient data to conclude that acupuncture is an effective intervention for treating ED (56,57). Therefore, further scientific research is required to investigate whether there are specific benefits of acupuncture for men with ED before acupuncture can be accepted as evidence-based practice.
Sometimes low libido or sexual dysfunction can occur due to low testosterone levels. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a testosterone supplement. Your body usually can produce adequate testosterone, but it needs downtime to convert precursor hormones into testosterone. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, your body will convert those precursors into cortisol instead. So rest, relax, and allow your body to build up its testosterone stores.
There are so many potential reasons a man might develop erectile dysfunction (ED), it's nearly impossible to generalize the best ways to treat it. What works for one man may not work for another simply because they are having problems for different reasons. That said, it may encouraging to hear that there are a variety of options that may be considered, from psychological counseling to lifestyle changes, medications to treatments and devices.