ED can be caused by a handful of things, but one thing’s for sure: You need a healthy supply of the neurotransmitter nitric oxide (NO) to get and maintain an erection. NO is produced in nerve tissue and helps jolt your Johnson by relaxing the smooth muscle so blood can fill the penis. After the initial release of NO, your body releases a cascade of chemicals—including more of the neurotransmitter—to help keep you hard and happy, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
ED is caused by vascular, hormonal, neurogenic, pharmacological, or psycho-genic factors. Performance anxiety where the person fears failing in a sexual scenario is a common psychogenic cause for ED.3 Neurogenic causes are related to diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, stroke or spinal cord injuries. Radical removal of the prostate (also called prostatectomy) is the cause of nerve-related ED as nerve injury is possible despite advances in surgical methods.4
Derived from the bark of a West African evergreen tree, yohimbe was the go-to ‘script for a wonky willy prior to the advent of wonder drugs like Viagra, Walker says. “Yohimbe enhances sexual performance both by blocking certain neurotransmitters in the brain and by increasing the release of nitric oxide in the cavernosal nerves of the penis,” he explains. And it pairs well with other erection-friendly tablets: A 2010 study in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry found that a combination of yohimbe and L-arginine successfully helps guys get it up. However, yohimbe also has a handful of side effects, including elevated blood pressure and anxiety, so definitely talk to your doctor before you start on the supp.

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.
It hits where it hurts the most – your member. Erectile dysfunction or ED is a spoiler in bed and can shatter your ego irreparably. ED, also called impotence, is the inability of a man to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient to permit satisfactory sexual intercourse.1 Men who cannot get or maintain an erection that lasts long enough or is rigid enough to complete sexual intercourse are considered to have erectile dysfunction.
For patients who failed oral medical therapy or unable to tolerate the side effects, intracavernosal injection of vasoactive agents can often provide effective alternative. Various vasoactive agents such as alprostadil, papaverine or phentolamine have been used either as single agent or combination agents to potentiate the NO release and cavernosal smooth muscle vasodilation. However, intracavernosal injection therapy has high attrition rate and can be associated pain especially with alprostadil injection (2). The practice of isolating compounds and understanding its pharmacological attributes before using it as a drug therapy has been a strength of Western medicine.

Supplement factsAmount500mg*Serving size: 1 Capsule 500mgServings per container: 1Cordyceps Sinensis 50mgAged Garlic extract 40mgMushroom Extract 40mgCodonopsis 60mg Proprietary Blend 310mg Proprietary Blend: Carthamus, Cinnamon Bark, Ginko Biloba, Red-Berried Weeds, Rehmannia, Tribulus Terrestris extract, Wild Yam extract.Other ingredients:Magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, Gelatin, Glycerin. *Daily values not established.
Today, there are countless ways of helping men with erectile dysfunction, which is good. But unfortunately, nobody gives a dam about men who have the opposite problem, automatic uncontrolled erections at the worst possible time. I think most men are not ready to accept a man sharing a public shower with them, if this man has a full scale erection. This is why I am not ready to expose my erections in public showers. Showering in public is like flying.
While the rationale behind why it would work is airtight, the research on arginine’s actual effect on erectile dysfunction is slim, points out Charles Walker, M.D., assistant professor of urology and cofounder of the Cardiovascular and Sexual Health clinic at Yale University. But given its solid safety profile, minimal side effects, and potential benefit on heart disease, it’s worth a try, he adds, especially when taken in conjunction with other herbs on this list, which studies have shown can be more effective.
The diagnosis of erectile dysfunction requires a comprehensive sexual and medical history that include a validated questionnaire, the Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM), and asking if they experience a rigid erection at night, in the morning, or during masturbatory approaches. The presence of rigid morning or night erections, or rigid erections at any sexual thought suggests a mainly psychogenic cause. Conversely, erectile dysfunction with a gradual onset, progressive course, or long duration suggests a predominantly organic cause.

There’s no bedroom bummer quite like having to fly at half mast, but your penis problems are likely more common than you think: As many as 30 million American men suffer from erectile dysfunction, and one in four who seek treatment for ED are actually under the age of 40, according to a study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. We all know there’s a little blue pill that can fix the failure to launch—but you don’t necessarily have to fill a ‘script to save your stiffy.


To achieve and maintain an erection, healthy blood vessels and an optimum blood flow are essential. Significantly, therefore, Dr. Rath’s research has proven that specific micronutrients play key roles in maintaining the structural integrity of blood vessels and optimizing blood flow. Such micronutrients include vitamins C and E, the amino acids lysine and proline, and the mineral copper.
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.
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
L-arginine is an amino acid that is necessary for the lining of the blood vessels to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide allows the blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow throughout the body, including to the penis. Studies on L-arginine and erectile dysfunction have used between 2,000-5,000 mg a day in divided doses.ii Supplemental arginine is best taken on an empty stomach.3
The truth is medication or psychosexual counselling are the first treatments a doctor will suggest because they’ve been proven to work. If a doctor has approved a medication for you then it’s safe. If you would still like to see if herbal supplements work for you, then there is a list below of supplements thought to work for erectile dysfunction. Just before you invest your money in them, remember they aren’t proven to work:
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.
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:
For obvious reasons, ED can be a sensitive subject, one that until relatively recently men were more likely to try to hide than to deal with. Fortunately, a deeper understanding of the variety of causes of erectile dysfunction has led to medications, therapies, and other treatments that can be more individualized and more likely to be effective—and more open discussion about addressing the concern.
A cold slice of watermelon can do more than just satisfy thirst and hunger during the warm summer months; it can help with bedroom satisfaction. Citrulline, the amino acid found in high concentrations of watermelon, is found to improve blood flow to the penis. A 2011 study revealed men who suffered from mild to moderate ED and took L-citrulline supplementation showed an improvement with their erectile function and were very satisfied. Natural watermelon juice, or “nature’s Viagra,” can also be easier on the stomach, since taking pills like Viagra can cause nausea and diarrhea.
If you’re looking for a way to simultaneously boost your libido and calm those pre-date jitters, pour yourself a glass of red wine. According to a study printed in Nutrition Journal, vino could elevate your testosterone levels. In lab tests, researchers found that quercetin, a compound in wine, blocks an enzyme that causes the body to excrete testosterone, thereby increasing the amount of T circulating in the blood. Wine’s rich antioxidant profile also triggers nitric oxide production, which relaxes artery walls. This increases blood flow down south, creating feelings of erotic excitement. For some great picks for your next tipple, check out our 16 best wines for weight loss.
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.
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
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.

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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.
Derived from the bark of a West African evergreen tree, yohimbe was the go-to ‘script for a wonky willy prior to the advent of wonder drugs like Viagra, Walker says. “Yohimbe enhances sexual performance both by blocking certain neurotransmitters in the brain and by increasing the release of nitric oxide in the cavernosal nerves of the penis,” he explains. And it pairs well with other erection-friendly tablets: A 2010 study in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry found that a combination of yohimbe and L-arginine successfully helps guys get it up. However, yohimbe also has a handful of side effects, including elevated blood pressure and anxiety, so definitely talk to your doctor before you start on the supp.
A cold slice of watermelon can do more than just satisfy thirst and hunger during the warm summer months; it can help with bedroom satisfaction. Citrulline, the amino acid found in high concentrations of watermelon, is found to improve blood flow to the penis. A 2011 study revealed men who suffered from mild to moderate ED and took L-citrulline supplementation showed an improvement with their erectile function and were very satisfied. Natural watermelon juice, or “nature’s Viagra,” can also be easier on the stomach, since taking pills like Viagra can cause nausea and diarrhea.
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The brew is rich in compounds called catechins, which have been shown to blast away belly fat and speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy. But that’s not all: Catechins also boost desire by promoting blood flow to your nether region. “Catechins kill off free radicals that damage and inflame blood vessels, increasing their ability to transport blood,” says Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. “Catechins also cause blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide, which increases the size of the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow,” she explains. Blood flow to the genitals = feeling of excitement, so sipping the stuff will, well, make you want to get it on. Bjork suggests drinking four cups a day to feel the full effects. Pick up one of our 5 favorite teas for weight loss.


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.
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