Natural treatments for erectile dysfunction to try before taking medication


Editorial Team


June 7, 2024

A happy couple laughs while making a smoothie in their kitchen, surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables.

Medical review by: Jennie Stanford, MD, FAAFP, DipABOM


  • Conventional erectile dysfunction (ED) medications like Viagra® and Cialis® work by blocking PDE5, which enhances blood flow to the penis. However, many people also try different natural treatments for ED.
  • Diet, exercise, and weight management play crucial roles in improving ED, with reduced alcohol and tobacco use also having a potential impact.
  • Some people have taken supplements like Panax ginseng, L-arginine, maca, yohimbe, and Ginkgo biloba for ED, although results and safety vary.
  • Acupuncture and various cultural remedies may offer alternative ED treatments, focusing on improving blood flow and holistic well-being.
  • Addressing mental health through counseling and strengthening pelvic floor muscles through exercises like Kegels can also significantly improve ED symptoms. Lemonaid Health can help you find effective ways to treat  ED symptoms and prescribe medication through online consultations.

Navigating natural treatments for erectile dysfunction

Experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) can be upsetting, and it’s natural to look high and low for solutions—both scientific and holistic. But while many natural treatments have been suggested for ED, it’s not always easy to know which ones are credible or effective.

Conventional ED medications & their role

Many people  who deal with ED use medications like Viagra® or Cialis® to help achieve and sustain erections during sexual arousal.

How they work

Viagra® and Cialis® block the enzyme PDE5 so that it can’t break down the hormone cGMP prematurely. Since cGMP plays a key role in helping blood flow to the muscles in the penis during arousal, this makes getting an erection easier for men whose bodies do not naturally produce enough of it.

See also:

  • Viagra® guide: uses, benefits, side effects, & more

Are they the same?

No. Viagra® and Cialis® both block PDE5, but they use different active ingredients and last for different amounts of time. The effects of Viagra® often last for up to 4 hours, whereas Cialis® can remain effective for up to 36 hours.

See also:

Lifestyle changes: a key to improving erectile dysfunction

Lifestyle modifications often play a central role in managing and potentially improving ED symptoms. Many of these choices can enhance your overall health as well.

Diet, exercise, & weight management

  • Diet: A heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can improve cardiovascular health, which is essential for erectile function. Foods high in flavonoids, like berries and citrus fruits, have been associated with reduced ED incidence.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can improve ED, especially if you are not currently very active, or have a condition such as obesity, hypertension,, or cardiovascular diseases 
  • Weight Management: Obesity is a risk factor for ED. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can improve or prevent ED.
  • Body composition: Increased adipose (fat) tissue can cause low testosterone, which directly contributes to erectile dysfunction.

Reducing alcohol & tobacco use

  • Alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption can impair sexual function. Reducing alcohol intake to lower levels can help improve ED.
  • Tobacco: Tobacco use is a risk factor for ED. Smoking damages blood vessels and impedes blood flow to the penis. Some studies suggest that along with other health benefits, quitting smoking can improve ED symptoms over time.

Herbal & natural supplements: do they help with ED?

While various herbal supplements are touted for ED treatment, it’s important to approach them with caution and consult healthcare professionals before use. It’s important to discuss any supplements you want to take with your healthcare provider. Not all supplements have demonstrated clear results in clinical studies. It is also important to understand how supplements may interact with other medications you may be taking for ED or any other conditions.

Panax Ginseng (Korean Red Ginseng)

Often called the “herbal Viagra®,” Korean red ginseng is thought to enhance nitric oxide production, improving blood flow. However, it’s important to note that scientific studies of its effects have yielded unclear results.


This amino acid is involved in the production of nitric oxide, a key factor in erections. Supplements of L-arginine may help improve blood flow and erectile function.

Other herbs

Acupuncture & traditional therapies: alternative approaches to ED

Traditional therapies like acupuncture have also been explored for their potential in treating ED, offering an alternative to conventional medical treatments.

Acupuncture, a staple in traditional Chinese medicine, involves inserting fine needles into specific body points. It’s believed to stimulate the body’s energy flow (Qi) and has been used to treat ED, potentially by improving blood flow and nerve sensitivity.

Psychological counseling & therapy: the mind’s role in treating ED

ED is often intertwined with psychological factors. Psychological treatment for ED, combined with medical treatment, help you improve your ED.

Pelvic floor exercises: strengthening muscles to improve erectile function

The pelvic floor muscles play a pivotal role in erectile function. Strengthening these muscles can aid in managing and potentially improving ED.

The pelvic floor’s role

  • Support and Control: The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and bowel and affect sexual function. They help in maintaining blood flow to the penis during erections and controlling ejaculation.
  • Weak Pelvic Muscles and ED: Weakness in these muscles can lead to reduced erectile strength and early ejaculation. Strengthening them can enhance erectile function and control.

Exercises for a stronger pelvic floor

  • Kegel Exercises: Kegels involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Contrary to popular belief, these exercises are not only for women. Regular practice can improve the strength and endurance of these muscles.
  • Technique: To identify the pelvic floor muscles, try stopping urination mid-flow. The muscles used for this action are the ones to focus on during Kegels.
  • Routine: Perform Kegel exercises by contracting the pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds, then relaxing. Repeat this several times in a row, several times a day.

Finding the support you need

Erectile dysfunction presents numerous difficulties, but there are many ways to help overcome them. The key is to understand which of the many options available to you will be effective. Talk to your healthcare provider so that you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

Viagra® is a registered trademark of Pfizer Inc. Cialis® is a registered trademark of Lilly ICOS LLC.

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Editorial Team


June 7, 2024

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.