The list of vitamins and herbs purported to ease erectile dysfunction is as long John Holmes’ member. And the causes of E.D. are as equally as varied. But it comes down to two broad reasons: physical and psychological, and there is certainly an overlap. If it happens to you, you know it can play games with your mind and affect future encounters.
So the list of vitamins and herbs below may work for some people and not for others. Some might help blood flow, some may help you relax, others might be long-term health solutions. And most of these supplements aren’t supposed to work like Viagra where you pop a pill to pop a boner. They’re designed for more long-term vascular health, which won’t give you a porn-star erection on Day 1, but might help you get there over the long run.
I’m no doctor. The information in this article is just that – information. It’s not intended to cure anything and you shouldn’t take anything without supervision from a doctor. Some of this information is from my own experience, while some of it I have compiled from various sources, and I’ve notated them generously throughout.
So without further adieu, here’s the big list of male aphrodisiacs, herbs, and vitamins
This article will be discussing the following:
Fish Oil/Fatty Acid
Ginseng (Panax, Korean Red)
Horny Goat Weed
Vitamin A (Beta-carotene)
Suggested dosage varies wildly in some cases. I’ve cited many of the suggested dosages listed below, especially in those cases where varying suggested dosages have been found.
This article is a work in progress, as information changes constantly.
Ashwagandha (Withania somniferum)
Dose: 1000mg 3x a dayi
Note: Treats stress and impotence.
Dose: 800 mg 2x a day of Cs-4 mycelium extract.ii
Note: Chinese studies point to improved libido.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
Dose: 400-800mg pills or 2-3cc tincture 3x a day.
Note: Improves blood flow to the genitals.
Dose: 25-50mg a day if tests show your levels are low.
Note: Improvement only seen in men who test low for DHEA. Precursor to testosterone. Also used to treat Alzheimers and obesity. Levels begin to decline in men after age 40.
Side effects: Acne, mood swings, fatigue, insomnia, liver damage.
I have found very little corroborating or even anecdotal information that the fava bean helps E.D.
Fish Oil/Essential Fatty Acid Complex
Dose: As directed
Note: Aids in formation of sperm and seminal fluid in the prostate gland.iii Also used to treat arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and high cholesterol. Works best when also taking Vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene. iv Can also fight depression.
Note: Increases blood flow and hormone production. The list of traditional uses for garlic is extensive: Asthma, allergies, alzheimers, athlete’s foot, bronchitis, cancer, colds, diabetes, diarrhea, ear infection, flu, gout, heart attack, herpes, high blood pressure, and other infections.
Side effects: Heartburn, flatulence, bad breath.
Warning: Avoid if you have a blood-clotting disorder or diabetes.
120 mg 2x a day (24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones)
500mg 3x a dayvii
Improves blood flow. Studies show improvement for erectile dysfunction. One study showed that 200mg of ginkgo biloba extract improved sexual function in 76% of the men.viii Another showed men taking 240mg a day all reported improvement.ix It could take months for it to show full benefit.x Also used to treat Alzheimers, glaucoma, heart attack, and heartburn.
Warning: Avoid if you have a blood-clotting disorder.
Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium or Yin Yang Huo)
Note: Used for increased libido and erectile function. The active compound is icariin, which is a PDE-5 Inhibitor, which is how Viagra and Cialis work. Also stimulates testosterone production. Studies have shown some promise. Available in tablet or tea forms. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews of this herb, but I haven’t tried it yet myself.
Dose: 150mg Iodine or 2k-3k mg Kelp
Note: Thyroid component aids in development of sex organs.
Warning: Can be toxic in high quantities. xi Avoid if you have hypothyroid disorder.
Natural sources for iodine: Kelp, seafood, some veggies.
Dose: 1000 mg 3x a day on an empty stomach.xii
Note: Blood vessel dilation and improved blood flow. Also used to treat cancer and infertility.
Natural sources: Nuts
Side effects: Rare, but at high doses (above 20g daily) includes nausea, vomiting, flushing, and headache.
Warning: Can activate the herpes virus in those affected, may interact with blood pressure lowering medicine.
Dose: 4000mg dailyxiii
Warning: Few side effects, but can cause insomnia in high doses.
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Dose: 250 mg 3x a day
Note: Improves blood flow. Helps in production of sex hormones. Also used to treat depression, high cholesterol, and re-occurence of heart attack.
Warning: High doses of 1.5-6g per day can lead to skin flushing, itching, dryness, rashes, liver damage, and elevated blood sugar levels. Possible interaction with diabetics and those with high blood pressure should.
Natural sources: Peanuts, brewer’s yeast, fish, and whole grains.
Oatstraw (Avena sativa)
Dose: 300 mg 3x a day
Note: Relaxes nervous system and increases libido.
100mg 2-3x a day. (4-7% ginsenosides)
1g a dayxiv
60% of men who took 900mg 3x a day of Korean Red Ginseng showed improvement after 2 months.xv
Chinese believe in improved libido and sexual function. Relieves stress and high blood pressure. Also has been used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome and diabetes. May take a few months of daily supplements to see full benefits.xvi
Anyone with uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes should check with a doctor first. Can cause sweating or irritability.
Potency Wood (Muira puama)
Dose: 500 mg 3x a day.
Note: Improvement to desire and impotence.
Dose: 500mg a day
Note: Boosts Testosteronexvii
Dose: 320mg Dailyxviii
Note: May enhance libido. Most effective if it contains 85-95% fatty acids and sterols.xix No known side effects or interactions. Also used to treat prostate enlargement.
Note: Highly concentrated in testicles. Also used to treat allergies, arthritis, asthma, anxiety, cancer, and heart attack.
Warning: Don’t take if you have heart, liver, or kidney problems. Don’t take more than 1000mcg a day.
Natural sources: Asparagus, Brazil nuts, garlic, mushrooms, soybeans, tuna, seafood, pineapples, brown rice.
Tribulus terresteris (Puncture Vine)
Dose: 500 mg 3x a dayxxi
Note: Improves libido and ED.
Vitamin A (Beta-carotene)
Dose: Up to 25,000 IU daily (5000 RE)
Note: Needed for body to produce proper sex hormones. Also used to treat bronchitis, cancer, cataracts, colds, herpes, flue, and psoriasis.
Natural sources: Milk, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, red bell peppers, cheese, egg yolks, apricots.
Side effects occur toward the maximum daily IU’s of 25,000, which include headache, hair loss, fatigue, dry skin, and liver damage.
500mg 3x a day
300-3000mg a dayxxii
Boosts testosterone, lowers cholesterol, helps high blood pressure. Also used to treat allergies, asthma, bronchitis, cancer, canker sores, colds, depression, diabetes, ear infections, flu, ulcers.
Doesn’t stay in your body long, so you must get it every day.xxiii For this reason, time release capsules are ideal.
Natural Sources: Citrus fruits, berries, cantaloupe, green peppers, leafy green vegetables, sweet peppers, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes.
Side effects can occur toward 3000mg a day, which include diarrhea.
Personal note. I’ve experimented with Vitamin C for other health reasons and found that taking 1000mg three times a day has improved sexual function.
Dose: 200 IU daily, slowly increasing to 400-1000 IU a day
Note: Increases circulation and fertility. Use d-alpha-tocopherol form.
Warning: Thins blood and not to be taken along with prescription blood thinners
It may take up to a week to work, and 33 mg (50 IU) might be enough.xxiv Vitamin E and that it doesn’t last long in the body. It is believed caffeine destroys Vitamin E, so be sure to supplement them.xxv
Natural sources: Nuts, leafy greens, whole grain cereal, poultry, seafood, soybeans, asparagus, eggs.
Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe)
10mg of yohimbe hydrochloride 3x a day
450mg yohimbe bark extract (2%=9mg) once a day, at least an hour before activity.
Note: Increases blood flow to penile tissue and improves libido. Lowers blood pressure. Sometimes prescribed for weight loss. The yohimbe hydrochloride version is by prescription only. See my Unbiased Review of Yohimbe and the followup article.
Warning: Avoid if you have high blood pressure, any heart condition, kidney disease, pregnant women, or if you have a psychological disorder. Best to start with low doses to test tolerance. Can cause panic attacks, irritability, nausea, headaches, sweating, agitation, or high blood pressure. Do not take with drugs or alcohol. Can lead to extended erections.
15-50mg a day.xxviii
Key to prostate gland function and sex organ growth. Stabilizes or boosts testosterone. Losenges absorb better than pills.
Warning: Don’t take more than 80mg a day. Don’t take with antibiotics.
Natural Sources: Oysters by far have the most zinc. Also found in whole grain cereals, wheat germ, legumes, some nuts, lean red meat seafood, brewer’s yeast.
i James F. Balach, M.D., Mark Stengler, N.D., Prescription for Natural Cures, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004)
ii Balach and Stengler, 329
iii Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
iv eHow.com – http://www.ehow.com/how_5148808_better-erections.html
vKevin Haynes, “The Viagra Alternatives,” Vegetarian Times, October 1998, 28.
viWinifred Conkling, The Complete Guide to Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements, (Avon Books, 2006), 75.
viii Balach and Stengler, 330
ix CJ Puotinen, “Herbs for Virility,” Vegetarian Times, May 1997, 80.
xi Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
xii James F. Balach, M.D., Mark Stengler, N.D., Prescription for Natural Cures, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004)
xiii Haynes, 30.
xiv Haynes, 30.
xv Erin Hobday, “The Best Supplements For Men,” Men’s Health, July 2006, 129.
xvii Haynes, 30.
xviii Shari Lieberman, “Nutrition Hotline,” Better Nutrition, April 1999, 15.
xix Conkling, 90.
xxi Balach and Stengler, 330
xxii Conkling, 49.
xxiii Jack Lalanne, Revitalize Your Life (Hastings House Publishers, 2003), 151
xxivThe-Vitamin-And-Supplement-Guide-Online.com, Vitamin E and Sex Drive: New Applications for a Familiar Nutrient, http://www.the-vitamin-and-supplement-guide.com/vitamineandsexdrive.html (April 15, 2010).
xxvi Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
xxvii Balach and Stengler, 330
xxviii Winifred Conkling, The Complete Guide to Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements, (Avon Books, 2006), 272.