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Erectile Dysfunction

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Erectile dysfunction (ED) is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual performance[1]. While ED can affect any man, it occurs commonly in middle aged and older men[2], being estimated to affect 52% of men aged between 40 and 70[3]. The causes of erectile dysfunction may be physiological or psychological[1]. Physiological causes of ED include cardiovascular disease[4] and diabetes[5]. Additionally, use of therapeutic drugs[2] or smoking[3] may cause or worsen ED. Psychological causes include stress, anxiety and depression[6].

There is a long history of herbal medicine being used to treat ED. The evidence for various herbal treatments for erectile dysfunction is summarized below.



Because erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of a serious underlying health problem, people suffering from ED should always consult a doctor before taking any herbs or supplements to improve sexual performance. If you are being treated for an underlying condition which is causing erectile dysfunction, discuss any herbal treatments or supplements you may wish to take with your doctor.

Herbs for erectile dysfunction

The following table contains a summary of herbs and supplements for treating erectile dysfunction. Only herbs and supplements for which placebo-controlled human trials have been conducted are listed. Click on the common name of each supplement to be taken to an article with more information.

Common name Other names Scientific name Number of studies Evidence of effectiveness in human studies Reported side effects Approximate cost per month ($US)
Yohimbe Yohimbine, Yohimbine HCL, Yohimbe extract, Yohimbe bark extract Pausinystalia yohimbe 10 Weak positive Severe, uncommon $15-$25
Panax ginseng Korean Ginseng, Korean red ginseng, red ginseng Panax ginseng 6 Medium positive Mild, uncommon $20-$30
Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair Ginkgo biloba 2 Negative Mild, uncommon $5-$10
Butea superba Red Kwao Krua Butea superba 2 Mixed No data $10-$20
Maca Maca-maca, Maino Lepidium meyenii 1 Weak positive None $5-$30

Other herbs

The following table contains a summary of herbs and supplements which have been studied in some form for the treatment of erectile or sexual dysfunction, but for which no placebo-controlled human studies. exist. Such evidence includes animal studies, in vitro studies and human trials that were not placebo-controlled. These data are presented for research purposes. It is not possible to say that any of the following herbs can improve erectile dysfunction in humans. This table will not be comprehensive.

Common name Other names Scientific name Relevant studies
Tongkat ali Pasak bumi, Penawar pahit, Penawar bias, Bedara merah, Bedara putih, Lempedu pahit, Payong ali, Tongkat baginda Eurycoma longifolia
Saffron Saffron crocus Crocus sativus
Fadogia agrestis Black aphrodisiac, Baakin gagai Fadogia agrestis
Withania somnifera Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, Winter cherry Withania somnifera
Pistachio Pistacia vera
Nutmeg Myristica fragrans
Grains of paradise Alligator pepper, Guinea grains, Guinea pepper Aframomum melegueta
Cowitch Cowhage, Velvet bean Mucuna pruriens
Garlic chives seed extract green nira grass Allium tuberosum
Maypop Maypop, Purple passionflower, True passionflower, Wild passion vine Passiflora incarnata
Fingerroot Chinese ginger Boesenbergia rotunda
Securidaca Longepedunculata Violet tree, Krinkhout, Mpesu, Mmaba Securidaca Longepedunculata
Montanoa tomentosa Zoapatle Montanoa tomentosa


  1. 1.0 1.1 Malviya, N; Jain, S; Gupta, VB; Vyas, S (2011). "Recent studies on aphrodisiac herbs for the management of male sexual dysfunction--a review.". Acta poloniae pharmaceutica 68 (1): 3-8. PMID 21485695. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sumalatha, K; Saravana Kumar, A; Mohana Lakshmi, S (2010). "Review on natural aphrodisiiac potentials to treat sexual dysfunction". International Journal of Pharmacy and Therapeutics 1 (1): 6-14. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Melman, A; Gingell, JC (1999). "The epidemiology and pathophysiology of erectile dysfunction". The Journal of Urology 161 (1): 5-11. PMID 10037356. 
  4. Conti, CR; Pepine, CJ; Sweeney, M (1999). "Efficacy and safety of sildenafil citrate in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in patients with ischemic heart disease". The American Journal of Cardiology 83 (5A): 29C-34C. PMID 10078540. 
  5. Phé, V; Rouprêt, M (2012). "Erectile dysfunction and diabetes: A review of the current evidence-based medicine and a synthesis of the main available therapies.". Diabetes and metabolism 38 (1): 1-13. PMID 22056307. 
  6. Araujo, AB; Durante, R; Feldman, HA; Goldstein, I; McKinlay, JB (1998). "The relationship between depressive symptoms and male erectile dysfunction: cross-sectional results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study". Psychosomatic Medicine 60 (4): 458-465. PMID 9710291.