Since a big chunk of erectile dysfunction is physiological, it stands to follow that good nutrition is key to addressing the issue. Great nutrition is all about wise eating habits and choices. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to get all the necessary nutrients by simply eating the right foods.
Often times, supplementation is needed. Eating right for addressing or reducing the risks for erectile dysfunction may require taking supplements for optimal penile health. Truth is, natural supplements, e.g., herbs, have been used since time immemorial in addressing erectile issues by African and Chinese cultures.
Compared to prescription medications for treating erectile dysfunctions such as Cialis (tadalaﬁl), Levitra (vardenaﬁl) and Viagra (sildenaﬁl), supplements don’t have as extensive studies or tests to back up their efﬁcacy claims. As the amount and type of active ingredients among different erectile dysfunction supplements may vary, their side effects do so as well.
Because supplementation can be quite helpful to address erectile dysfunctions, here’s a guide for choosing erectile dysfunction supplements:
Generally Safe Supplements
> DHEA: There’s some amount of evidence showing its ability to address erectile dysfunction. Generally safe at low doses but have been reported to cause acne in some cases.
> L—ARGININE: There’s some evidence establishing its ability to stimulate wider blood vessel opening to increase blood ﬂow. In some cases, it‘s been reported to cause diarrhea, cramps and nausea. Avoid taking together with Viagra.
> GINSENG: Panax ginseng has been shown in one study to improve sexual function for men who suffer from erectile dysfunction. It’s cream form — applied topically — can help prevent premature ejaculation. Although generally safe for short-term use, using panax ginseng as a supplement can cause insomnia for some people.
With positive results from studies of people but higher risk
> YOHIMBE: Some clinical studies have shown yohimbe to help improve erectile dysfunctions brought about by anti-depressant medications but have also been reported to cause relatively serious side effects in some people like anxiety, irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. As such, this supplement should only be taken with approval from a licensed physician.
No signiﬁcant studies on people
> GINGKO: This herbal supplement has good potential to improve penile blood ﬂow but no solid evidence exists regarding claims of effectively addressing erectile dysfunction. A potential side effect of this herbal supplement is risk for bleeding.
> HORNY GOAT WEED (EPIMEDIUM): Although the leaves of this herb contain ingredients that are used for better sexual performance, there are no established studies on people that support the belief in its efficacy. A bonus side effect of this herbal supplement is it can help lower blood pressure.
Other Non-Prescription Herbal Alternatives
Several herbal products that claim to be the “natural” Viagra proliferate the market. The thing is, these products have undisclosed quantities of potent ingredients that are also found in their supposed synthetic counterparts and thus have higher risks for unwanted side effects. In fact, some of these products actually contain the very drugs that their supposed synthetic counterparts have that require a doctor’s prescription to consume! In this case, it’s best to be very vigilant in taking “herbal” erectile dysfunction supplements from manufacturers that aren’t well known or don’t have a good reputation in the market. Even if the FDA has banned such “herbal” supplements, they continue to proliferate illegally.
Remember, it’s not enough that manufacturers claim that theirs are herbal — it‘s easy to claim such stuff without backing them up. Because it’s practically impossible for ordinary consumers like you and I to distinguish, it’s best to stick with relatively more expensive brands of herbal supplements from well-established manufacturers.
Being labeled “herbal” doesn’t necessarily mean safe. Remember, they may be say taken as is but some of them may react negatively if taken with other medications. As such, it’s best to consult with a licensed physician first prior to taking such supplements for erectile dysfunction, especially when taking regular medications.
Online purchase risks
With the proliferation of many online stores these days and the convenience shopping on such stores brings, no wonder many people choose to buy their supplements online. Beware though — many supplements for erectile dysfunction that are sold online these days contain ingredients that need prescription or worse, are undisclosed.
Many men who purchase erectile dysfunction supplements online think these are safe because of the nice packaging. These are often labeled as “all-natural” or “safer than prescription medicines but are just as effective.” The scary truth is often times, the label tells a different story than the content. The worse thing that can happen is that these supplements contain dangerous ingredients that aren’t on the label. In fact, the United States Food And Drugs Administration (FDA) — through its Internet and Health Fraud division – conducted an online survey that revealed more than 1/3 of erectile dysfunction supplements purchased online contained prescription grade ingredients and other similar substances that weren’t even disclosed.
Two of these are the ingredients sildenaﬁl and vardenaﬁl (or substances very similar to these), the active ingredients for Viagra and Levitra, respectively. If people who have issues with Viagra and Levitra take these supplements thinking they’re safer than the two prescription medicines, they may be in for a rude awakening as they suffer from side effects that they’re trying to avoid in the first place.
What’s more, even if the men taking these supplements have no issues with Viagra or Levitra, it’s possible for them to suffer adverse side effects if they’re taking medicines that don’t mix well with the 2 prescription medicines’ active ingredients that aren’t disclosed in the supplements. For example, if a person is taking prescription medicine that contains nitrates, taking supplements that unknowingly contain sildenaﬁl (an active component of Viagra) may bring down his blood pressure dangerously low. Nitrates are a common ingredient in prescription medicines used to treat or manage heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes and incidentally, men who are being treated for these conditions also suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Non-oral solutions for erectile dysfunction
Until recently, medical or supplemental treatments for erectile dysfunction were taken orally. Although those may work well for many, there are some men who aren’t predisposed to the ingredients of such medicines or supplements, especially those who take prescription medicines that contain nitrates. Oral treatments may also have side effects that can negate the erection beneﬁts offered.
Now, non—oral treatments are available for erectile dysfunctions as an alternative to oral treatments. They vary in efficacy and side effects. To help you sift through them, here’s a list of the most popular topical solutions for erectile dysfunction:
AndroGel: Many cases of erectile dysfunctions are caused by low testosterone levels. One of the most popular ways of addressing this deﬁciency is testosterone replacement but technically, it doesn’t help men with normal levels of testosterone and those who suffer from erectile dysfunction. Testosterone can also be delivered by skin application via AndroGel — testosterone in a gel. Some of the potential side effects worth noting are emotional instability, acne and headache.
Xe Alprostadil: This kind of topical solution is classified as a vasodilator, substances that can help blood vessels to expand and improve blood ﬂow. Since erectile dysfunction is physically a blood ﬂow issue, Alprostadil is used for treating erectile dysfunction and is administered directly via injection into the penis or suppository insertion into the urethra. In has a reported efficacy rate of about 80%. There are no known side effects. Alprostadil is also available as a topically applied solution, which spares men from penile scarring, bleeding and bruising. Tests have confirmed that it helps in most erectile dysfunction cases with minimal and tolerable side effects.