Erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to achieve or maintain erections sufficient for intercourse, often has a psychological component, and counseling is encouraged as a primary treatment strategy. However, ED can also be a symptom of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, both of which can impair blood supply to the penis. In addition to lifestyle measures such as checking your medications, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and managing stress levels, I recommend the following herbs to help address ED:
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). This herb may improve arousal in both men and women, perhaps by increasing blood flow to the genitals. It should not be used by those on blood thinners such as Coumadin/Warfarin.
- Ashwaganda. Derived from the roots of a plant in the nightshade family called Withania somnifera, ashwaganda is reputed to be a mild aphrodisiac and has long been popular in India. Ashwaganda is generally safe - follow the dosage on the package, and give it six to eight weeks to have an effect.
- Standardized extract of Asian ginseng. Asian ginseng, or Panax ginseng, is a good general stimulant and sexual energizer. Asian ginseng is considered safe but can raise blood pressure and cause irritability and insomnia in some people. Follow the dosage on the package, and give it a six to eight-week trial to see what it can do.