Erectile dysfunction (ED) represents inability to achieve or maintain erection with sufficient rigidity and duration to permit satisfactory sexual performance.
There are many causes, psychological, neurological, physical and other associated medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, hypertension and cigarette smoking which result in ED.
Currently, various treatment options are available for erectile dysfunction. They are PDE5 inhibitors, injection therapy, other oral prescription medicine, vacuum devices, surgical implants, herbal or over-the-counter medications.
The FDA does not approve over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies for erectile dysfunction, as these are not under its jurisdiction. So, those interested in using herbal medications are advised to consult their physicians so as to determine the appropriate herb, dosage and side-effects.
Some of the herbal remedies used for correcting ED are:
L-arginine: It is an amino acid used by body to make nitric oxide which signals smooth muscle around the blood vessels leading to relaxation and this process dilates the blood vessels and helps in increase blood flow.
Relaxation of smooth muscle in the penis leads to enhanced blood flow and further leading to an erection. L-arginine can be found naturally in food such as meat, poultry, dairy and fish and is available as oral L-arginine supplement.
Propionyl-L-Carnitine: Propionyl-L-carnitine enhances and improves erectile function, orgasm, sexual intercourse satisfaction, and general sexual well-being.
Gingko: This herb is used by people who experience sexual dysfunction as a side effect caused by antidepressant drugs. This herb relaxes smooth muscle and enhances blood flow inside penis. It has 50% success rate as per one study.
Zinc: High level of mineral zinc deficiency which is associated with diabetes, long-term use of diuretics, digestive disorders, and certain liver and kidney diseases, sometimes leads to erectile dysfunction.
Ashwagandha: The herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) which is also called Indian Ginseng increases stamina, energy, and sexual function. Side-effects of ashwagandha include drowsiness.
Yohimbe: This is a bark of West African yohimbe tree which is a source of yohimbine. Yohimbine is a compound which stimulates blood flow to the penis thus increasing libido and decreasing the time between ejaculations.
Side effects generally include anxiety, dizziness, nausea, and drop in blood pressure, fatigue, abdominal pain, hallucinations, and paralysis. Due to its fatal qualities it is generally not recommended.
Tongkat ali: It works by increasing level of hormone testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for the growth and development of penis, testicles, prostate, scrotum and seminal vesicles. Normal testosterone levels help in maintaining energy level, fertility, as well as sexual desire.
Tribulus terrestris: It is herb which has been used in traditional medicines of China for centuries. Tribulus is often used for infertility, low libido and erectile dysfunction.
Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL): GBL can be found in products which are marketed for improvement in sexual function. This substance can cause toxic and fatal side-effects which include seizures and coma.
Thus, with so many choices before a person who wants to improve erectile dysfunction with herbal remedies, it is imperative to choose the correct remedy after evaluating the risks factors and side effects. One must always consult physician and herbalist before undergoing such remedial measures.