Impotence, or erectile dysfunction (ED), is the inability for a man to sustain an erection long enough for normal, satisfying sexual intercourse.  To understand the underlying causes of impotence, it helps to know the basics about how an erection develops, along with potential problems that get in the way. Erections begin in the brain with a thought related to sexual desire. Then a chemical message travels from the brain to the penis. Blood flow to the penis increases as blood vessels leading to the reproductive system relax and allow for increased circulation.

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.
Dan practices a unique blend of conventional and holistic medicine, drawing on his extensive experience with integrative techniques like healing touch, guided imagery and yoga. By fostering an understanding of the deep connections between body, mind and spirit, Dan seeks to help every patient unlock his or her own innate healing ability. He received his MD from the Hahnemann College of Medicine and completed his residency in family practice through UCSF. Dan is a fellow of the Wilderness Medical Society, is a clinical instructor at UCSF, and is certified with both the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Dan is a One Medical Group provider and sees patients in our San Francisco offices.
Shape up. Because ED is often linked with restricted blood flow to the penis, keep your heart and arteries in good condition by maintaining a healthy weight, and following a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats. Regular aerobic exercise can improve blood flow to the genitals and reduce any stress that contributes to your ED.
There are currently two models of the inflatable penile prosthesis (IPP), namely, the two-piece IPP vs. the three-piece IPP. The three-piece IPP consists of a pair of corporal cylinders, a scrotal pump and an abdominal reservoir filled with saline. Owing to the presence of the reservoir, the corporal cylinders can be completely deflated to give the patient the physiological flaccid state when not in use, and likewise a maximally turgid state when inflated (21). The two-piece IPP lacks an abdominal reservoir and is often offered in patients with whom placement of reservoir is challenging or not possible such as following radical cysto-prostatectomy with orthotopic ileal neobladder creation, or patients who had previous open book fracture of the pelvis with metal implants. The concept of ectopic reservoir placement has allowed many of these men the option for three-piece IPP placement (22). Technological advances have improved mechanical reliability, reduced prosthesis infection risk and offered excellent patient and partner satisfaction rate (23).
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that a large percentage of men with ED also have low levels of vitamin D. If you’re experiencing ED, you may want to have your level of vitamin D checked. Other symptoms of a low vitamin D level may be too subtle to notice. However, if you have serious vitamin D deficiency, you may have bone pain or muscle weakness. Vitamin D levels can be checked with a simple blood test and for most people corrected with a supplement.
Red Ginseng — One small randomized trial found evidence that red ginseng may offer modest improvements in ED symptoms (as compared with placebo). A meta-anaylsis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology states, “Traditionally red ginseng has been used to restore and enhance normal well-being, and is often referred to as an adaptogenic….Possible mechanisms of action of red ginseng include hormonal effects similar to those of testosterone. Others have postulated that red ginseng might induce relaxation of the smooth muscles.”  (5)
The definition of erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to obtain or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Historically, admitting to having ED was considered taboo and downright embarrassing until the advent of sildenafil citrate (Viagra) in 1998. Sildenafil liberated men from the stigma of having ED, and it opened a conversation about a problem that has existed for centuries. Up to 10% of men younger than forty suffer from ED and upwards of 60% by age 69.1
Double down on the marinara to protect your manhood. Men who eat over 10 servings of tomatoes each week have an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer — the result of lycopene, an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage — a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found. A previous study found the garden vegetable could also improve sperm morphology (shape); men with the highest tomato intake contributed to between 8 and 10 percent more ‘normal’ sperm.
A daily dose of niacin improves erectile function, particularly in men with high cholesterol, according to a 2011 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The vitamin helps increase blood flow and reduce inflammation—one of the underlying causes of both high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction. “Vitamin B3 is also used to make sex hormones and other important chemical-signal molecules,” says Fisch. Like many of the others on our list, this tablet is most powerful when taken in conjunction with others: A cocktail of propionyl, L-carnitine, L-arginine, and niacin taken for three months improved 40% of erections in a study from researchers at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy.
While generally thought of as a problem affecting only older men, a study published in 2013 found that one in four men with newly diagnosed ED at a clinic in Italy were younger than 40 years old. With other research suggesting over half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 now suffer from some degree of ED, and estimates showing the total cost of orthodox treatment in the United States could reach $15 billion if all men affected sought treatment, solutions that address the condition’s primary cause are urgently needed.
The medications also require a healthy endothelium and healthy arteries capable of providing increased blood flow to work. If the sex organ arteries the size of a swizzle stick are severely diseased, there will be no “bada-boom bada-bing” an hour after taking them. These medications only work by enhancing the natural effects of a healthy endothelium.
Eastern medicine should be fully exploited, and integrated with modern medicine to combine the advantages of both TCM and Western medicine. More research should be conducted into the efficacy and safety of TCM, and integration of TCM and Western medicine may provide promising breakthroughs in future clinical treatment. This strategy may allow for the development of new therapeutic strategies based on concepts of TCM and integrated medicine. There is a need for multimodal therapy and holistic approach to treat men (and their partners) with ED through complementary use of herbal supplements and modern drug to optimize underlying medical comorbidities; acupuncture, exercise or massage to reduce stress and strengthen the body; introduction and escalation of various medical therapy with use of mechanical therapy to further enhance penile erection; and lastly surgical intervention in suboptimal or refractory ED cases.

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. [8] Vitamin D supplementation can improve both these parameters. 
Having your current medication checked – if you are taking medication already, it could be that your erection problems are a side effect. Have a doctor check whether this is the cause of your problems and if it is, you might be able to switch medications and then find that your erectile dysfunction goes away completely – or at least improves. Medications that can cause erection problems include:
When it comes to scientific development, in Western medicine, an analytic approach is often used to identify and resolve medical challenges. A hypothesis is first derived through general observations of a phenomenon. A research plan is then carefully designed and data collected. Once sufficient data is collected, critical statistical evaluations are done and conclusions are drawn (4). Every aspects of a disease entity are studied from macroscopic to microscopic views, down to the cellular and molecular levels. The deep understanding of the role of cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 enzymes in ED and the use of phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors in treatment of ED exemplifies the success of this approach.
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.
Encouraging evidence suggests that ginseng may be an effective herbal treatment for ED. However, further, larger, and high-quality studies are required before firm conclusions can be drawn. Promising (although very preliminary) results have also been generated for some herbal formulations. Overall, more research in the field, adhering to the CONSORT statement extension for reporting trials, is justified before the use of herbal products in ED can be recommended.

Most importantly, herbal supplements are not well regulated in the United States.  Studies have shown that 40-50% of herbal supplements do not even contain the supposed main ingredient, and many contain substances that are not listed which may have dangerous side effects2.  Another study found that over two thirds of the products tested had substituted other plant species for the plants listed on the label, and a third of products also contained other fillers or contaminants3.  A study by the New York State Attorney General of herbal products sold at GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart found that four out of every five products didn’t contain the ingredient they claimed!  Fourteen US states and territories have petitioned Congress to regulate the herbal supplements industry.
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:
Tufan capsules are reckoned as the best ED pills as these possess only natural herbs as ingredients. Using Tufan herbal ED pills is safe as the herbs present in these pills are highly effective and completely safe; these are the best ED pills as these are capable of providing complete natural treatment by supplementing wide range of herbs which address all the possible causes of the problem.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common sexual problem affecting many men irrespective of cultures, beliefs and nationalities. While medical therapy for ED has been revolutionized by the advent of oral phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and intracavernosal injection of vasoactive agents, recent technological advances such stem cell therapy, low intensity shock wave and newer generation of penile prosthesis implant offer hope to men who do not respond to conventional medical therapy. In contrast, traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) focuses on the restoration and better overall bodily regulation with the use of various herbal and animal products as well as exercises to invigorate qi (energy) in vital organs. Western medicine involves an analysis of ED symptom and underlying causes that contribute to ED, while TCM emphases the concept of holism and harmonization of body organs to achieve natural sexual life. The following article reviews our current understanding regarding the philosophical approach, and evaluates the evidence surrounding various ED therapies between mainstream Western Medicine and TCM.
Impotence, or erectile dysfunction (ED), is the inability for a man to sustain an erection long enough for normal, satisfying sexual intercourse.  To understand the underlying causes of impotence, it helps to know the basics about how an erection develops, along with potential problems that get in the way. Erections begin in the brain with a thought related to sexual desire. Then a chemical message travels from the brain to the penis. Blood flow to the penis increases as blood vessels leading to the reproductive system relax and allow for increased circulation.
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

Regular consumption of various types of cabbage, such as white cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts help get rid of the excess amount of estrogen, a female hormone. The increased estrogen levels interfere with the testosterone production. By the way, red radish and white turnips have the same effect as cabbage. In addition, to cleanse the body of toxins leading to high estrogen levels, it’s necessary to add a sufficient amount of high-fiber foods to your diet. These foods include most fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dietary supplements are another avenue that patients can explore when it comes to treating their ED. Many products exist on the market but be warned that they may not have the scientific proof that can support claims of better erections. In one study done on multiple supplements that were proven to not work, it was found that patients found improvement in their ED 25 percent of the time. This suggests that supplements that do not work have a "placebo effect." This means that if a patient believes the medication truly works, he will notice improvements in his symptoms. This is a psychological phenomenon and can also be considered a root of why ED can occur. Depression or anxiety are two common reasons for ED and if patients take supplements that they believe will help them, they may have more confidence in sustaining an erection. [10]
If you don’t usually connect Greek yogurt with sensuality, that’s understandable (and probably sane). Just know that one container can provide 20% of your daily value of B12 and up to 17 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of potassium, which keeps your heart healthy and aids circulation — two essential factors in getting hard. And those are only a few of the factors that make it one of our favorite foods; it’s also instrumental in weight loss and management. Click here to discover the Best Greek Yogurts for Muscle Building!
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that a large percentage of men with ED also have low levels of vitamin D. If you’re experiencing ED, you may want to have your level of vitamin D checked. Other symptoms of a low vitamin D level may be too subtle to notice. However, if you have serious vitamin D deficiency, you may have bone pain or muscle weakness. Vitamin D levels can be checked with a simple blood test and for most people corrected with a supplement.
Clinical practice in TCM has been an exemplary case of customized treatment with holism epitomizes the essence of TCM. TCM encompasses these aspects, taking a holistic approach to patient’s problem and these methods combine body, mind and spirit, and healings are achieved via the concept of energy rather than matter, as in modern medicine. Compared to the complexity of modern science, which is the basis of Western medicine, this concept is easily understood and comprehended, and is readily accepted because of its holistic approach.
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:

Eating spinach, a green rich in appetite-suppressing compounds, can not only make you look better naked but increase blood flow below the belt. “Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make things more pleasurable,” says Tammy Nelson Ph.D. Spinach is also rich in folate, which increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect you against age-related sexual issues. For 150+ recipes that will make your belly flat—and your member look bigger—buy the brand-new book from Abs Diet creator David Zinczenko: Zero Belly Cookbook!
No matter what erectile dysfunction treatment or treatments (whether herbal remedies or not) a man ultimately decides upon, experts say it's important to eat healthily and to avoid smoking and heavy drinking. Moreover, adequate exercise, stress reduction, and sleep can improve erectile dysfunction in many. In addition, says Lamm, "A loving, receptive, and responsive partner is a home run. After all, this is still a couple's issue."
Pay attention to your vascular health. High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides can all damage arteries in the heart (causing heart attack), in the brain (causing stroke), and leading to the penis (causing ED). An expanding waistline also contributes. Check with your doctor to find out whether your vascular system — and thus your heart, brain, and penis — is in good shape or needs a tune-up through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medications.
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