There have been some studies to suggest that a placebo effect that improves ED may work for some men. One study found that men taking an oral placebo pill showed as much improvement in ED symptoms as men who took actual medication to improve ED. Conversely, men who were given therapeutic suggestions to improve ED did not see signs of symptom improvement.
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.
Jacka, Felice N.; O’Neil, Adrienne; Opie, Rachelle; Itsiopoulos, Catherine; Cotton, Sue; Mohebbi, Mohammedreza; Castle, David; Dash, Sarah; Mihalopoulos, Cathrine; Chatterton, Mary Lou; Brazionis, Laima; Dean, Olivia M; Hodge Allison M; Berk, Michael. “A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression.” BMC Medicine. Jan 2017.
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.
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)
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.
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.
The B vitamin folic acid is good for cardiovascular health. Keeping your blood flowing smoothly is a key to preventing and even treating erectile dysfunction (ED). After all, ED is often an early warning sign of heart problems. In particular, some men have high levels of homocysteine, which can contribute to heart problems. Findings show that eating foods high in folate and taking folic acid supplements may help lower high homocysteine levels. Lots of foods contain folic acid, including spinach, tomatoes, and orange juice. But most of us don’t get enough of these heart healthy foods in our daily diet. To boost folic acid, look for a supplement with about 525 milligrams (mg) of this vitamin. That’s good advice for everyone, and might help with your ED. Research suggests that for some men with ED and high homocysteine levels, taking folic acid may be a key to helping ED medications like Viagra perform well.
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.
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).
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.
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)
Overall, men with a higher total intake of fruit saw a 14 percent reduced risk of ED, whereas men who consumed foods rich in anthocynanin, flavones, and flavanones, had a 10 percent reduced risk of ED. What’s more, consumping several servings of these foods each week is as beneficial for your manhood as briskly walking for five hours each week. But, if you really want to reap the benefits, men who exercised and consumed flavanoid-rich foods experienced a whopping 21 percent reduced risk of erectile dysfunction.
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:
This African tree bark extract sends blood flow to the genitals, says herbalist Ed Smith, a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild, who adds a warning that yohimbe can cause nervousness and raise already-existing high blood pressure (so avoid taking it if you have heart or kidney disease), and can also negatively interact with antidepressants.
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.
Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in hormone health. You only need a tiny bit for healthy sperm, but a tiny deficiency can be catastrophic for reproductive health. In one study, men who had lower testosterone and were infertile also had significantly lower selenium levels than the fertile group. Supplementing with the mineral improved chances of successful conception by 56 percent. And a second study that included 69 infertile men with low levels of the mineral, found selenium supplementation could significantly improve sub-par sperm motility associated with testosterone deficiency. Moreover, 11 percent of the men successfully impregnated their partners during the trial!