Find out which supplements will be the most beneficial with erectile dysfunction.
There are so many different kinds of blends and ingredients out there, how do you know which ones are safe and effective and which are harmful and/or useless.
In this article, part 4 of our erectile dysfunction series, I’m going to share with you what the research says about these supplements.
Which one is good and which is best left on the shelf.
- Erectile dysfunction Part 1: The solution to your neurotransmitters
- Erectile dysfunction Part 2: Which hormones are good and how to optimize them
- Erectile dysfunction part 3: Nitric oxide, oxidative stress and insulin resistance
As a side note, a lot of ED supplements are contaminated with steroids or PDE5 inhibitors. For example, this study found that Butea Superba was more effective than sildenafil, however, it turned out that the supplement was contaminated with a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor (R).
Companies want their supplement to work, so why not spike it right? It’s pretty messed up if you ask me.
The way I’m going to list these supplements will be in no specific order and one supplement might work for one guy, but not for another.
Yohimbine hydrochloride is the principal alkaloid of the bark of the African Yohimbe tree.
It antagonizes alpha-2 adrenergic receptors, which then stimulates the release of dopamine and noradrenaline, causing an increase in sexual arousal and partially antagonize norepinephrine-induced contraction of corporeal cavernosal smooth muscle in the penis (R).
Although it can be a hit or miss with this supplement as there’s about a 50/50 chance of being a responder or not (R). People either experience an improvement in cognition, libido and erection, or get crushing anxiety, cold extremities. The other downside is that you can get all the negatives, but still get an erection or you can get all the positives without the erection.
According to this study, combining 6g arginine with 6mg yohimbine seems to be relatively effective at improving ED in patients with mild to moderate ED (R). I think 6mg is a little high and one can rather start at around 2.5mg to gauge your response.
Tribulus is one of my favorite herbs ever. It calms the adrenals, lowers prolactin and estrogen and increases dopamine, DHEA, testosterone (in men with low T) and DHT. It’s also effective at improving ED (R, R).
Just be sure to get a good brand with at least more than 120mg protodioscin per serving, as it’s the protodioscin that’s thought to have the aphrodisiac properties. VemoHerb has a good product with high protodioscin content.
3) Tongkat Ali
Tongkat Ali (TA) can significantly increase free testosterone, inhibit aromatase, act as an adaptogen, and boost cellular function to increase ATP production.
TA has been found to improve erections by inhibiting PDE-5 (and increase NO), arginase (which leaves more arginine for eNOS), and ACE (thus lowering inflammatory angiotensin II) in a concentration-dependent manner (R).
Tongkat Ali can also improve male sexual performance by increasing the conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone, cortisol, 5-dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and testosterone in corpus cavernosum tissues.
4) Horny goat weed
This one is seen in nearly every single ED supplement out there. It’s been shown to increase NO, by increase expression of eNOS, re-couple eNOS and lower oxidative stress (R, R). According to anecdotes, it works, but human studies are lacking.
Ginseng, more commonly known for boosting energy levels, is also effective for erections. Ginseng can prevent neural damage, increase NO and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), increase stamina and it also has an anti-fatigue effect (R). No one wants to be horny, but too tired to do anything.
6) Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba extract enhances blood flow and can aid in erections and also preserve and regenerates neural function (R). However, human studies found it to be rather ineffective, although it can help with blood flow if that is your problem (R).
7) Butea Superba
Butea Superba can significantly increase DHT, and DHT can potently enhance libido and sexual ability (R). However, no study so far has been done on erectile function in humans, but it is effective in animals (R). We’ll have to go on anecdotes for this one.
8) Mucuna pruriens
It’s been found that mucuna pruriens may also prevent penile tissue deterioration due to diabetes (R).
There aren’t human studies on this herb yet for erectile dysfunction, however, many people report that it works great for their erections, especially when combined with Catuaba bark and Muira Pauma.
9) Catuaba bark extract
Catuaba bark extract is considered to be a central nervous system stimulant, without the side effects of caffeine. This is used in some Asian remedies for sexual weakness and lowered libido. European herbalists have found that Catuaba may have aphrodisiac properties and can be used to combat sexual weakness (R). It effectively increases dopamine as well.
10) Cordyceps Sinensis
Cordyceps Sinensis is a fungus that grows on insects and it has anti-fatigue properties and can enhance libido, sexual activity, and performance, and restore impaired reproductive function in humans (R).
11) Muira Puama
This potency wood is actually the best known Amazonian folk medicine which increases libido and penile hardness. It acts as a nerve stimulant to heighten receptiveness to sexual stimuli as well as the physical sensation of sex. This herb is rich in sterols that activate the body’s receptors for hormones like testosterone to heighten libido and enhance performance. Also present are volatile oils like camphor which helps restore sex drive and inner depth of libido and mental ability to be aroused.
Waynberg reported in 1994 that 60% of men with low libido have reported increased sexual desire and 50% of men with poor erection have reported improved erectile function following Muira Pauma administration (R).
A lesser known supplement that can aid with erections is ATP, the energy currency.
Positive effects have been found on erectile function with the combination of 200mg AMP and 8g arginine aspartate (R). ATP itself induces smooth muscle relaxation in the penis, which is synergistic with arginine (R).
AMP is the breakdown product of ATP, so supplemental ATP can also be effective. Inosine, which can also increase ATP levels, should thus also be effect. Cardenosine is a nice ATP boosting supplement, but don’t take it before bed as it will most likely keep you up.
Adenosine is also effective but might be too calming.
As we all know by now, arginine promotes circulation and helps with the pump. It’s been studied a lot and found to be relatively effective for people with ED who don’t have neurological issues. This analysis demonstrated that arginine supplements with dosages ranging from 1.5g to 5g significantly improved ED compared with placebo or no treatment (R).
Watermelon, which is a good source of citrulline, the precursor to arginine, has also been found to be effective for promoting erections (R).
My approach would rather be to inhibit excess arginase and eat enough protein, instead of supplementing arginine, to solve the issue. Plus, additional arginine could “feed” iNOS, which would create too much NO and create peroxynitrite when it reacts with superoxide.
This herb goes very well with yohimbine to promote erections and to block its anxiety, panic and tachycardia effects.
Hexarelin, a synthetic growth hormone-releasing peptide, analog peptides stimulate erectile function by increasing the release of dopamine and oxytocin (R, R). Oxytocin stimulates erection and its effects are androgen-dependent.
18) French maritime pine bark
BH4 is the cofactor for nitric oxide and neurotransmitter synthesis. Without BH4, NO, dopamine and serotonin synthesis drop.
BH4 itself acts as an anti-oxidant and removes free radicals but does not restore eNOS activity if it’s uncoupled. Supplementing 200 – 500mg BH4 before le’ sexy time can increase rigidity duration (R).
Taurine is a fantastic anti-oxidant and has innumerable functions in the body. A low protein, and especially low shellfish intake, can lead to low taurine levels.
Taurine supplementation in rats resulted in notably increased mRNA levels and activity of eNOS and nNOS, as well as NO and cGMP content, in the corpus cavernosum (R). As explained in part 3, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is also a vasodilator and an erectogen and taurine supplementation has been shown to increase H2S levels as well (R).
22) Gambir Sarawak
Gambir is a plant that is dried, powdered and then turned into a paste. It can be rubbed topically on the penis to induce an erection and can also help against premature ejaculation (R).
Niacin (vitamin B3) alone can improve the erectile function in patients suffering from moderate to severe ED and dyslipidemia (R). Taking niacin at night after dinner can also help with sleep quality and proper growth hormone release during sleep.
24) Anti-oxidant erectogenic supplements
As seen in part 3, oxidative stress can play a major destructive role and contribute to erectile dysfunction. Eating or supplementing anti-oxidants have been shown to improve erectile function by lowering free radicals and inflammation.
The free radicals damage the vasculature, muscles and nerves that innervate the penis.
Other factors to look out for
1) Vitamin D levels
Rought 45% of the people tested in this study were deficient in vitamin D and only 20.2% had optimal vitamin D levels. Patients with severe/complete-ED had vitamin D levels significantly lower than those with mild-ED.
Vitamin D serves many functions in the body, including boosting androgens and lowering PTH and as we’ve learned in the previous parts of this series, PTH is not pro-erection (R, R). More on vitamin D here.
2) Vitamin B1 levels
Alcoholism can induce impotence and one of its mechanisms is to deplete vitamin B1 (R). Vitamin B1 can also be reduced by eating an excess of refined carbs (wheat, sugar, energy drinks, etc.), stressing too much and consuming nutrient-poor food. Read more on vitamin B1 here.
3) Magnesium levels
I talked a little about neurotransmitters that can contribute to anxiety in part 1. Glutamate, NMDA overactivation and elevated adrenaline (secreted from adrenals) can contribute to anxiety and reduce erectile quality. To stay calm you can use supplements such as gelatin, magnesium, theanine, valerian, magnolia, Rhodiola Rosea, etc. More on managing anxiety here.
Homocysteine is created in the methionine cycle and is inflammatory and a neurotoxin in high amounts. PDE5 inhibitors are ineffective when hyperhomocysteinemia hasn’t been corrected yet (R). Low vitamin B12, folate, vitamin B2, B6, betaine or choline intake can reduce methylation and increase homocysteine levels.
Fixing ED can be complicated, that’s why I have written 4 parts about it so far. Everyone’s root cause can be different and the same supplement would not have the same effect on everyone.
If I didn’t have diabetes, neuropathy, high blood pressure or other ailments (which I don’t), my supplement stack would be:
- Catuaba bark extract
- Muira Puama
- Tribulus Terrestris
If you have any other health complications that you feel might be contributing to ED, then it would be best to address the health issue first.
As always, thanks so much for reading my article. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. And if you found this article to be insightful and helpful please like and share so this information can help others as well.
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