Natural Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction – Helpful or Dangerous?
‘Natural cures’ have risks and side effects. Here’s why not to use them for erectile dysfunction
Last reviewed: 19 Dec 2018
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when you often can’t get or keep erections. It’s very common in men.
Maybe you’ve tried some more traditional ED treatments, or maybe you’re apprehensive about trying them.
‘Natural remedies’ might seem safer or easy to get hold of, but these products may not work. They can also be harmful, with some serious side effects, so it’s best to do some research first.
What natural remedies can I get for erectile dysfunction?
The major natural remedies believed to help with erectile dysfunction (ED), include:
- Horny Goat Weed
- Panax ginseng
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is produced naturally by our adrenal glands, which are above the kidneys. DHEA can be converted into testosterone, which plays a role in how men have sex.
Some vitamins have been identified as possible remedies for ED. In some men, a zinc deficiency may be the cause and so taking a zinc supplement could help. A low zinc level means you don’t produce enough androgens (male hormones).
Horny Goat Weed
Some research has shown that horny goat weed, an ancient Chinese remedy, may be a natural treatment for ED and might work in a similar way to Viagra.
Panax ginseng, red ginseng, or the ‘herbal Viagra’, has been shown to have similar hormonal effects to testosterone and so may be recommended by some as an ED treatment. But, it can lower blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous – especially if you’re diabetic.
L-arginine is naturally present in the body. It’s an amino acid that helps to make nitric oxide, which plays a number of different roles in your body. To get an erection, nitric oxide is needed to relax the blood vessels and allow blood to flow to the penis.
Are they safe?
Natural remedies for erectile dysfunction (ED) aren’t safe because they’re not regulated like proper medical treatments. So, it’s hard to know what the exact ingredients are.
It’s better to buy licensed medication or get a prescription for ED treatments from regulated services, because these are safer. Often natural remedies contain very little or no active ingredient, the part needed for the medication to work. And because they’re unregulated, they can be dangerous.
If you don’t know what’s in a medication or treatment, you could be taking something you’re allergic to. If eaten, they can have serious health consequences and in really bad cases they can cause death.
But do natural remedies work?
It’s unlikely that natural remedies will treat erectile dysfunction properly because they usually contain little or no active ingredients.
But there could be some impact from the ‘placebo effect’ when it comes to certain remedies and medications. This is when people’s symptoms improve because they believe the medication they’re taking will work..
Even so, herbal remedies available online are associated with major health risks.
Many of these products haven’t been tested, and sellers may have changed their recipe or packaging to avoid issues with regulations. If a herbal remedy is legal in the UK it will have either a traditional herbal registration logo or a product licence on the label.
I’ve heard of “herbal Viagra”. What is it?
“Herbal Viagra” is different from the traditional Viagra which contains the active ingredient, sildenafil. Herbal Viagra is banned in the US and Europe.
‘Herbal Viagra’ means supplements that claim to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) but are not available from your GP or registered online sources.
There’s very little scientific evidence which supports natural and herbal remedies for the treatment of ED. On the other hand, sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, was the first effective treatment used to treat ED and there’s a lot of clinical evidence to support its use. The same is now true for other ED medications.
What if I don’t want medication?
Lifestyle changes are often considered to be the first step in treating erectile dysfunction (ED). There are some suggestions in the next section below this one.
But, lifestyle changes can take some time to start working, while medication can give quicker improvements to your symptoms.
Some people may not want to try medication because they don’t want to talk to anyone in person about their ED. If this is the case, it may help to know that there are now ways to get safe, discreet ED treatment online.
Zava allows you to order treatment for ED without having to see a doctor face-to-face. The process is quick and easy:
- Fill out a short online assessment
- Place an order for your preferred treatment
- Your order will be checked by a doctor and approved if it’s right for you
- It can then be posted to your preferred address, or you can collect it from a local post office instead
There are a lot of places offering ED treatments only, but remember to only buy medication from a trusted, regulated service like Zava.
You can also buy Viagra Connect from a pharmacy. Viagra Connect is the first medication available over-the-counter for ED. It contains the same active ingredient as Viagra, but unlike Viagra, Viagra Connect doesn’t need a prescription.
The point of introducing Viagra Connect has been to make it safer and more convenient for men to order treatment for ED that is both genuine and effective.
So, what should I do about my erectile dysfunction?
First, you could consider making some changes to your lifestyle:
- If you’re overweight, bringing your weight down could help
- Smoking can affect your erection quality, so you could try to cut down or give up
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. For example, avoid processed and high-fat foods
- Try to exercise daily, or at least 30 minutes per day for 5 days a week
- Reduce stress where you can
You may also be able to try medication, which could help improve your erectile dysfunction (ED) symptoms quickly. These could include:
Beedie, C. et al. Capitalizing on the placebo component of treatments. Current Sports Medicine Reports (CSMR); 14 (4): 284-287.
Huang, S. A. and Lie, J. D. (2013). Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors in the management of erectile dysfunction. PT, Jul; 38: 414-419.
Jang, D. J. et al. Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Sep; 66.
MacKay, D. (2004). Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Alternative Medicine Review; 9: 4-16.
Mitka, M. (2003). FDA issues warning on “all-natural” herbal product found to contain viagra. JAMA: 289.
Zava offers a convenient and discreet service to help men improve their erectile dysfunction. There are a number of treatments you can consider. Continue to our erectile dysfunction service page to learn about the treatment options available.
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