L-arginine, or arginine, is an amino acid found in red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products that helps expand blood vessels and increase blood flow. “The body uses this semi-essential amino acid as the primary building block for nitric oxide,” explains Harry Fisch, M.D., clinical professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Vitamins and minerals are used in systems all over the body. Everywhere from your cardiovascular to your nervous system. It’s a lot to understand. So to help dispel some of the myths and outlandish claims, we’ll take a look at how five common vitamins and nutrients affect one very specific aspect of men’s health—erections. Turns out, vitamins can do more than just ward off the common cold.
Another common cause of ED for many men is stress. When the body is under stress—either mental or physical—the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, releasing a cascade of stress hormones. Chronic stress leads to elevated levels of these hormones, which can lead to weight gain around the middle, and remember, those excess fat cells convert testosterone to estrogen. Stress also reduces sexual drive and leaves very little physical energy for sex. If chronic stress is a problem, try these supplements:
Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is very common in men with one in 5 men affected by it. Though medical and psychological interventions are sought as treatment, natural remedies have been used traditionally to cure the condition. While foods like onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, and pomegranate juice are known to cure ED, certain vitamins like vitamin C, E, and B3 are effective, too. You may want to try Korean Red Ginseng or supplement your diet with L-arginine. You could also give acupuncture a shot.
The Aztecs referred to avocados as testicles because of their scrotum-like appearance. They were onto something. The green fruit is rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, nutrients that have been associated with increased libido. Plus, avocados’ good monounsaturated fats protect your heart and boost circulation, while their abundant minerals and carotenoids supply energy and stamina. For some creative ways to consume the fruit, check out our 10 avocado recipes for weight loss.
This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Doctors will often recommend certain medications for ED including Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. These medications can treat ED for many men. But these medications may be unsafe for some men to take, or they don’t help relieve symptoms. In such cases, testosterone replacement therapy is another helpful option. This is prescribed when ED is caused by reduced levels of testosterone.
In Eastern medicine, animal products are commonly used for their perceived health benefits. The philosophy “like nourishes like”, suggests that consuming the organ of an animal will bring benefits to the corresponding organ in one’s body is a common belief. Men seeking greater potency have turned to eating penises from goats, bull, deer, horses, seals and other mammals in the form of cooked dishes or herbal preparations. While there is no scientific evidence supporting this practice, the cultural beliefs remain strong and supplements containing extracts from animal penises are readily available in the form of capsules, often mixed with herbal compounds pitching similar erectogenic properties. A significant proportion of these potency-inducing supplements in Asia have been found to contain PDE5-inhibitors substrates such as tadalafil and sildenafil (30). However uncontrolled use of illicit PDE5-inhibitors under the guise of natural supplements remains a health threat to the general public.
Leafy green vegetables, like celery and spinach, may increase circulation because of their high concentration of nitrates. Beet juice has been found to be really high in nitrates. Nitrates are vasodilators, which means they open up blood vessels and increase blood flow. Many years before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first ED drug in 1998, several case reports on the beneficial effects of nitrates for erectile dysfunction had already been published. The ED drugs used today are based on the relaxing effects of nitrates on the blood vessels that supply the penis.
“Celery contains androsterone, a male pheromone released through perspiration, which limited research has shown to increase flirty behavior among females,” says dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. Ingesting the androsterone can boost also boost male arousal, and cause a dude’s body to send off scents and signals that make him more desirable to women, according to Alan Hirsch, M.D., author of Scentsational Sex.
The role of the practitioner providing a naturopathic treatment plan is to first identify the cause of the individual's ED. If the cause is psychogenic (i.e. performance anxiety, depression, relationship problems), referral to a psychotherapist should be considered. Organic causes like metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, or diabetes type II can be properly treated with lifestyle medicine and other numerous nutritional prescriptions beyond the scope of this article to discuss.
Despite the name, horny goat weed actually helps improve your erection, not libido. Botanically known as epimedium, this herb has been used by the Chinese for centuries to treat, among other things, low libido and erectile dysfunction. “A growing body of research shows that isolated icariin—the extract of epimedium—inhibits the enzyme phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) and significantly increases nitric oxide synthase, helping to improve erectile function,” says Fisch. In fact, this is the same mechanism that Viagra works through (but the herb comes with a way better name).
The oyster has always had an aphrodisiac reputation. One reason may be that oysters have high levels of the mineral zinc, which plays an important role in the production of the male hormone testosterone, and low levels of testosterone could be one reason for erectile dysfunction. Research presented at an American Chemical Society meeting may offer another connection: Raw shellfish contain compounds that stimulate the release of sexual hormones in both men and women.
There is no single cause for erectile dysfunction. Achieving an erection involves a complex series of physiological events; in order for an erection to occur, the body is required to coordinate nervous system responses with tactile sensations, emotional triggers, and signals from certain hormones. If any of these events are disrupted, impotence is likely to occur.
"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.
L-arginine, an amino acid that is naturally present in the body and helps make nitric oxide, supports a successful erection. Nitric oxide is responsible for making the blood vessels relax, which helps sustain an erection for men. A 1999 study, observed the effects of six weeks of high-dose (5 grams/day) orally administered nitric oxide (NO) donor L-arginine on men with organic ED. Thirty-one percent of those who took 5 grams/day of L-arginine experienced significant improvements in sexual function. Burns told Medical Daily, “l-arginine and deer antler velvet” have been the most popular go-to natural treatments for men.
The most common adverse events associated with all of the PDE-5 inhibitors10 are headaches in 16% of men; flushing in 10% of men; dyspepsia (7%); nasal congestion (4%), and visual disturbances/color sensitivity in about 3%. Tadalafil distinguishes itself from vardenafil and sildenafil by the relative lack of visual side effects. It does, however, have an additional possible adverse effect, which is back pain and/or myalgia.11
Since time immemorial, TCM has been adopted by many cultures and is widely practiced in Asian countries despite paucity of level 1 clinical evidence and limited published safety records. TCM is more congruent with Asian values, beliefs and philosophical orientation to health, simple administration, readily available and ease of access or procurement, and general belief that TCM is safer. While Asian males are clearly different from their Western counterparts with respect to biology, culture and beliefs, the practice of TCM appears to be adopted by many Western nations lately. Many men seek TCM to avoid embarrassing visits to physicians and potential side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, or after becoming frustrated with the outcome of modern medicine. Patients are choosing to take more responsibility for their health by exploring a variety of non-pharmaceutical drugs and wellness practices. Furthermore, TCM such as herbal medicine does not address a specific organ system only and is meant to restore and realign the vital energy within the body, which is responsible for ageing, clinical diseases and the deterioration of bodily function; while in Western medicine, each pill is intended for a specific organ/system and that a patient may need a collection of pills to treat multiple comorbidities, rendering modern medicine less attractive to TCM.
For many men, stopping smoking is an erectile dysfunction remedy, particularly when ED is the result of vascular disease, which occurs when blood supply to the penis becomes restricted because of blockage or narrowing of the arteries. Smoking and even smokeless tobacco can also cause the narrowing of important blood vessels and have the same negative impact.