Many stores sell herbal supplements and health foods that claim to have sexual potency and fewer side effects. They’re also often cheaper than prescribed medications. But these options have little scientific research to back up the claims, and there’s no uniform method on testing their effectiveness. Most results from human trials rely on self-evaluation, which can be subjective and difficult to interpret.
While these side effects mainly create discomfort, some individuals are at risk for more serious, even life-threatening reactions to these drugs. Some men have reported fainting after taking impotence medications, and priapism (a painful condition involving an erection that does not subside after more than four hours) has also occurred as an effect of impotence drugs. This condition can lead to permanent nerve damage; injectable drugs may also cause irreversible damage to the penis if used incorrectly.
Wine – especially red wine – is a great source of the antioxidant phytochemical resveratrol, which helps open the arteries by enhancing the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide allows the blood vessels to expand, and this is how Viagra works. But while the little blue pill only works on tiny blood vessels, resveratrol helps your main arteries too. Make sure you stop at one or two glasses of wine – too much alcohol leads to the dreaded droop.
By far the most common cause of ED is vascular dysfunction. When the arteries that supply the penis with blood to achieve and maintain an erection are blocked or hardened, or the lining of these arteries are damaged, blood flow is reduced. Vascular dysfunction not only affects the small arteries of the penis, but the larger coronary arteries of the heart too. Astute doctors now recognize that ED may actually be an early warning sign of impending cardiovascular disease, showing up several years before a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke.2 To maintain healthy vascular function, and in turn, normal erectile function, consider these supplements:
Classic dietary staples, like the chicken breast, may not have the Instagram presence of say, maca, but they earn a place on plates much longer. Simply put, their health benefits continue to stack up. In addition to a hefty amount of arginine — only turkey has more — a 3-ounce cooked chicken breast contains only 142 calories and 3 grams of fat, but an impressive 26 grams of protein. That’s more than half of the day’s recommended allowance. Plus, it’s rich in B vitamins to rev your metabolism and energy levels. (And if you’re looking to treat erectile dysfunction, those B vitamins definitely don’t hurt.)
Lycopene is one of those phytonutrients that is good for circulation and good for sexual issues. Lycopene is found in deep red fruits like tomatoes and pink grapefruits. Some studies show that lycopene may be absorbed best when mixed with oily foods like avocados and olive oil. So you might want to make yourself an ED-fighting salad. Research also shows that antioxidants like lycopene help fight male infertility and prostate cancer.
Researchers discovered men who regularly consumed flavanoid-rich foods—especially those with anthocyanins, flavones, and flavanones—experienced a significantly reduced risk of the disorder than those who did not. Good news since the foods are already popular in American diets. Lead researcher Aedin Cassidy says, “…the top sources of anthocyanins, flavones and flavanones consumed in the U.S. are strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears and citrus products.”
Yohimbine. This chemical is found in the bark of an African tree called yohimbe. It has been used as a male aphrodisiac in Africa, and under medical supervision it has been used as a prescription drug to treat ED. Supplements made from yohimbe bark are also available without a prescription, but they can be life-threatening if used at high doses, according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. The supplement can interact in a harmful way with certain drugs, such as blood pressure medications, and should be avoided by anyone with liver, kidney, heart, or diabetes problems or problems with anxiety or depression. Like DHEA, yohimbine should not be taken without a doctor's supervision.
The natural remedy to ED is a healthy lifestyle that can “reverse” ED naturally, as opposed to “managing” it. Since ED can be considered a “chronic disease,” healthy lifestyle choices can reverse it, prevent its progression and even prevent its onset. Since sexual functioning is based upon many body components working harmoniously (central and peripheral nervous system, hormone system, blood vessel system, smooth and skeletal muscles), the first-line approach is to nurture every cell, tissue and organ in the body. This translates to achieving “fighting” weight, adopting a smart heart-healthy and penis-healthy diet (whole foods, nutrient-dense, calorie-light, avoiding processed and refined junk foods), exercising moderately, losing the tobacco habit, consuming alcohol in moderation, stress reduction (yoga, meditation, massage, hot baths, whatever it takes, etc.), and getting adequate quantity and quality of sleep. Aside from general exercises (cardio, core, strength and flexibility training), specific pelvic floor muscle exercises (“man-Kegels”) are beneficial to improve the strength, power and endurance of the penile “rigidity” muscles. If a healthy lifestyle can be adopted, sexual function will often improve dramatically, in parallel to overall health improvements. Since many medications have side effects that negatively impact sexual function, a bonus of lifestyle improvement is potentially needing lower dosages or perhaps eliminating medications (blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetic meds, etc.), which can further improve sexual function. Eat real food and avoid refined, over-processed, nutritionally-empty foods and be moderate with the consumption of animal fats and dairy. Processed meats and charred meats should be avoided. A healthy diet should include whole grains and plenty of vegetables and fruits, particularly those that contain powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
In a study done to determine if vitamin D supplementation would actually help patients with ED, 143 patients with ED were tested to determine vitamin D levels. It was found that of these cases, 46 percent of patients suffered from substantial vitamin D deficiency and only 20 percent were found to have adequate levels of vitamin D. In these cases, it was also determined that inadequate arterial blood flow was the root cause of ED more commonly in patients with low vitamin D levels.  Vitamin D supplementation can improve both these parameters.
Erectile dysfunction can occur as a side effect of medication taken for another health condition. Common culprits are high blood pressure meds, antidepressants, some diuretics, beta-blockers, heart medication, cholesterol meds, antipsychotic drugs, hormone drugs, corticosteroids, chemotherapy, and medication for male pattern baldness, among others.