Herbs and Nutrients that Support Erectile Function
  by James Occhiogrosso, N.D.

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There are many herbs and nutrients that can help with problems like erectile dysfunction (ED). Unfortunately, there are also many unscrupulous supplement suppliers that write extremely positive advertising—for products that do very little. Below, I list some nutritional and herbal substances that are either scientifically validated or have extensive folklore attesting to their use. More extensive information and scientific references about these substances can be found in my book “Your Prostate, Your Libido, Your Life”.

Chronic nutrient deficiencies, prescription medications, poor circulation, low testosterone levels, and chronic illness can all cause or exacerbate ED. Substances that can help with ED have several different actions on the body. The listing below shows the common names of some substances that may help with ED. It is divided into several broad categories based on the primary action of the substance. Click on the item name to buy it or for more info. 

  • Nutritive — Substances that provide support by increasing the health of the overall body or sexually related organs. The items listed here are those that have specific support for the male prostate or sexual organs. Excluded from this list are many other vitamins and minerals involved in maintaining good health of the overall body.

Nettle, Oats, Maca, Vitamins C, D and E, Selenium and Zinc

  • Prostate/Urinary health — Herbs that may help shrink an enlarged prostate and support better urination. Reducing prostate enlargement is a good start at recovering sexual function. If the prostate is unhealthy, it follows that sexual function will deteriorate. Unfortunately, most drugs that help reduce an enlarged prostate also have undesired sexual side effects. The herbs below have few side effects and are often as effective as prescription medication.

Saw Palmetto, Pygeum, Flower Pollen

  • Blood Circulation — Substances that can help improve sluggish circulation or increase nitric oxide levels in the blood. Clogged arteries and poor blood circulation cause many cases of ED. Gingko and garlic can help support better circulation, while the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline can help increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Correct nitric oxide levels are critical for a man’s erection.

Gingko Biloba, Garlic, L-Arginine, L-Citrulline

  • Testosterone Builders — Herbs that help the body produce more testosterone or act to inhibit the negative actions of estrogen in the body. Many aging men have normal total testosterone levels and low free testosterone. Oral supplementation with any of these herbs can often help the body build normal testosterone levels. Even better are rapidly absorbed herbal testosterone skin creams comprised of some of these herbs.

Panex ginseng, Tribulus, Yohimbe, Crysin, Horny Goat Weed, Tongkat ali

  • PDE-5 Inhibitors — These herbs inhibit an enzyme that causes a man’s erection to dissipate (PDE-5) thus causing a longer lasting erection. Their action is similar to the FDA approved drugs Viagra, Cialis, Levitra except they generally have fewer side effects. Many supplement manufacturers combine these herbs with some of the known testosterone building herbs above for the synergistic effect.

Cnidium, Xanthoparmelia scabrosa

  • Unknown Action — These Amazonian herbs have documented effectiveness but the action by which they act is currently unknown.

Muria pauma, Catuaba

Unfortunately, it is not always easy for a man suffering from ED to know exactly which substance (or combination of substances) will stand the best chance of helping him. Also, without extensive knowledge of herbology, it is impossible to judge if a particular supplement is properly formulated or its herbal ingredients properly extracted.

For example: many “male sexual supplements” on sale today incorporate muria pauma—an Amazonian herb extensively used in South America for its ability to help overcome erectile dysfunction. However, the active principles in this herb are not particularly soluble, and can only be extracted using special processes and alcohol. Thus, supplements containing muria pauma as ground powder provide little to no benefit from this particular herb.

Another example is maca. Many male supplements contain it. Maca is extremely nutritious and has a high concentration of amino acids that justify its reputation as a sexual stimulant. However, to be effective, a large amount of maca is needed—far more than is typically contained in a combination supplement.

I have met many men with erectile dysfunction, BPH, and prostatitis that have told me they tried several different herbs and nothing worked. Unfortunately, this is typically due to the use of the wrong herb, or the wrong form of an herb.

Supplement manufacturers often make claims for their products based solely on herbs in the product—regardless of the quantity used or the method of extraction. Whether this is due to the ignorance of some manufacturers to proper herbal preparation, or a blatant disregard for the truth solely to make a bigger profit, I cannot say. Suffice to say—that it is certainly true of many male sexual enhancement supplements. Such products have virtually no chance of helping—but they are less expensive than properly prepared ones—and many men waste their money trying them.

This is where a trained professional herbalist or a natural health practitioner can help. Knowing which herbs are effective and also knowing the correct form of an herb can make the difference between a successful supplement and one that is useless! Unfortunately, many folks learn this the hard way.

Male enhancement supplements that work generally combine several of the above herbs and nutrients listed above with different categories of action for the synergistic effect. If properly formulated, such combination products can be very effective. I have found the two below consistently effective.

  • Male Response – a combination of vitamins, nutritive herbs, testosterone booster herbs, and L-arginine.
  • Stamina Rx – a similar combination that also contains two PDE-5 inhibitors.
  • Male Plus – A combination of herbs from the Amazon that help support erectile function and enhanced libido

My clients say they all work well, albeit one might work better than the other for some guys - everybody is different.

There are numerous natural substances that may help reduce problems with erectile dysfunction. I discuss many of them in more detail in my book. Considering that ED is often the first symptom of a more serious health problem, it is wise to try to correct it at its source before resorting to prescription drugs.

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