Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/6/2022
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a common condition that affects tens of millions of American men every year.
While many of us associate ED with age, the truth is that men of all ages and backgrounds can suffer from ED. In fact, an estimated 52 percent of men between 40 and 70 years of age in the United States experience some degree of erectile dysfunction.
ED can vary in severity from one man to another. You might find it difficult to stay hard while you have sex, or simply notice that you’re not completely hard when you feel aroused. If you have a more severe case of ED, you might find it difficult to become erect at all.
Most of the time, erectile dysfunction is treated with prescription medications that improve blood flow to your penis.
However, there are also several natural remedies for erectile dysfunction out there, from herbal supplements to home remedies for erectile dysfunction that you can prepare yourself.
Like with many natural alternatives to prescription medication, the science behind most of these remedies is mixed, with some showing promise and others producing little in the way of results.
Below, we’ve looked into the most popular remedies and natural supplements for ED to work out what works, what’s safe and what’s worth considering if you find it difficult to develop or maintain an erection.
We’ve also discussed the FDA-approved medications that are currently available for ED, as well as why you may want to consider using medication if you have ongoing erection problems.
These medications, which belong to a class of drugs referred to as PDE5 inhibitors, all work by increasing blood flow to the erectile tissue inside your penis, helping you to get and maintain an erection.
While modern ED drugs are safe and effective, many men with ED, quite understandably, prefer to try and treat their erectile dysfunction naturally before using medication.
Most home remedies for ED can be sorted into two categories. The first consists of changes to your diet, lifestyle and habits. Most of these can and often will produce positive results, not only for your sexual performance but for your health and quality of life as a whole.
The second consists of herbs, minerals, and natural dietary supplements that are purported to improve blood flow and enhance sexual performance. The scientific evidence for most of these is mixed, as we’ve explained in more detail below.
If your ED is caused by a physical factor, such as obesity or hypertension, making changes to your diet and lifestyle may help to treat your symptoms and contribute to improvement in your erectile function and sex life.
Certain lifestyle changes can also help to treat erection issues that stem from psychological causes.
For example, some cases of sexual dysfunction may be linked to the usage of porn, as well as overly aggressive masturbation techniques (called “death grip” syndrome).
Below, we’ve listed eight lifestyle and diet changes you can make that might help to treat your erectile dysfunction symptoms. You can learn about these diet and lifestyle changes in greater detail in our guide to naturally maintaining your erection.
If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight may help to improve your cardiovascular health and make it easier to get an erection.
Maintaining a healthy body weight has a lengthy list of benefits, as this guide from the American Heart Association explains. Many of these benefits go far beyond simply improving your sexual performance — you’ll also reduce your risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers.
Staying within a healthy weight range can also lower your risk of developing diabetes, a disease that can have serious negative effects on your sexual health.
Our guide to the impact of your weight on erectile dysfunction goes into more detail about how being overweight or obese could affect your ability to successfully have sexual intercourse.
Erections are all about a healthy, consistent blood supply to your penis, making it important that you maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, not only causes erectile dysfunction — it also significantly increases your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. As such, it’s important to keep your blood pressure under control.
Our guide to high blood pressure and ED includes actionable tips that you can take to lower and stay on top of your blood pressure levels. As you’re reading it, you might notice that many of the tips are similar to our tactics for treating ED naturally.
While you don’t need to eat an absolutely perfect diet, eating healthier can help to improve your cardiovascular health, potentially reducing the severity of your ED.
In a 2018 analysis, researchers noted that the Mediterranean diet — a diet largely based on the 20th Century Greek and Italian diet that’s rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, seafood and lean protein sources — may be associated with an improvement of erectile dysfunction.
Our guide to the link between diet and erectile function goes into greater detail about the effects your diet can have on your sexual health and shares foods to prioritize for better blood flow and erectile function.
Exercise, particularly aerobic exercise like running, cycling or rowing, can improve your general health and reduce your risk of experiencing ED symptoms.
In a 2011 article in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Science, researchers looked at five studies to analyze the relationship between exercise and erectile dysfunction. They found that as men with ED from cardiovascular disease exercised, their erectile dysfunction symptoms improved.
Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s just a walk or bike ride around your local neighborhood.
It’s far from abnormal for your testosterone levels to gradually decline as you reach your 30s — a topic we’ve covered in our guide to testosterone and ED.
Although low testosterone typically won’t have any physiological impact on your ability to get an erection, it could affect your sexual desire and make you less interested in sexual activities.
This is because in addition to keeping your bones and muscles strong and healthy, testosterone plays a key role in maintaining your sex drive.
If you think your erectile dysfunction could be caused by a lack of arousal, or simply a reduced level of interest in sex, it could be worth getting tested.
It’s also worth paying attention to other potential symptoms of low testosterone, many of which can affect your overall quality of life as a man.
Smoking can harm your sexual performance from multiple angles. Not only can the chemicals in cigarettes contribute to vascular disease, but the nicotine that’s found inside tobacco smoke has a vasoconstrictive effect that can reduce blood flow and increase your blood pressure.
In a 2008 study, researchers found that nicotine reduces the erectile response to erotic material in men. This also means that alternative ways of consuming nicotine, such as vaping, smoking cigars or chewing nicotine gum, may harm your sexual performance.
Our guide to smoking and its link to erectile dysfunction goes into more detail about the facts on smoking and its sexual health risks.
While alcohol consumption isn’t directly linked with erectile dysfunction, drinking excessively can affect your sexual performance.
We’ve all heard of “whiskey dick” — a form of short-term ED caused by alcohol consumption. But research shows that certain unwanted side effects of alcohol consumption on your sexual health occur over the long term, not just while you feel drunk or have a hangover.
For example, in one study, researchers noted that the total amount of alcohol a person drinks is the most significant predictor of developing sexual dysfunction. In simple terms, the more you drink, the more likely your alcohol consumption is to affect your sexual performance.
To prevent your alcohol consumption from becoming a risk factor for ED, it’s best to only drink in moderation. Aim for the CDC’s recommendation of no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, or avoid alcohol entirely on the days you plan to have sex.
Although there isn’t a clear relationship between sexual dysfunction and addiction to porn, one survey found that men who like to masturbate with porn instead of having partnered sex have a higher risk of experiencing sexual dysfunction.
This phenomenon is known as porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Treatment options range from speaking with a healthcare provider or a licensed therapist to taking steps on your own to avoid watching porn excessively.
A large variety of herbs, vitamins, minerals, and supplements are marketed as home remedies and treatments for ED. Many of these substances have been used for centuries as treatments for impotence or natural options for enhancing sexual performance.
Like with many other home remedies, the scientific evidence behind most of these products is mixed. Some might have benefits for treating erectile dysfunction, while others have little to no real evidence to back up the claims made about them.
We’ve listed the most popular herbs, minerals, supplements, and vitamins for treating erectile dysfunction below, along with the available scientific data for each treatment option.
Red ginseng, or Panax ginseng, is an East Asian plant root that’s commonly used as an herb in traditional folk medicine. It’s also widely promoted online as a natural alternative to prescription ED medications such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra).
Proponents of ginseng also claim that it can boost energy levels, lower cholesterol and reduce stress —claims that, for the most part, haven’t been subject to much research.
In a 2008 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers looked at seven studies of red ginseng as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
The researchers found that the studies provided suggestive evidence that red ginseng may be effective at treating ED.
However, they also noted that the methodological quality of the studies — the extent to which a study’s design was likely to prevent bias — was low on average.
In general, the evidence for red ginseng as a treatment for erectile dysfunction is limited, both in quantity and quality.
While red ginseng might be effective at improving ED symptoms, there isn’t enough high-quality, unbiased scientific evidence to show that it conclusively treats erectile dysfunction.
Another natural supplement, Yohimbe, is made using the bark of Pausinystalia Yohimbe, a type of tree native to western and central Africa.
Yohimbe is marketed as a natural supplement for aiding weight loss, promoting muscle growth, raising testosterone, and treating erectile dysfunction.
In one study from 2002, researchers found that yohimbine — the active ingredient in Yohimbe — had “a positive effect in men with organic erectile dysfunction.”
However, the study used a small test group, with only 18 men involved, of whom nine reported responding to the yohimbine.
Other studies of Yohimbe and erectile dysfunction are also small in size, which can often result in findings that are statistically insignificant or otherwise unreliable.
In short, the scientific evidence used to support Yohimbe as a treatment for ED isn’t particularly thorough, nor is it very recent. However, it does show that some men affected by ED appear to show a response to treatment with Yohimbe.
There are also some safety issues that you should be aware of if you’re considering Yohimbe as a natural remedy for ED.
Yohimbe is linked with heart attacks and seizures, and it’s known to have caused issues such as tachycardia (overly fast heart rate) and high blood pressure.
Additionally, marketing yohimbine over-the-counter as a treatment option for erectile dysfunction is illegal in the United States without approval from the FDA.
Due to these health risks and the mixed evidence for Yohimbe as an ED treatment, it’s difficult to recommend this herbal treatment as a good option for improving erectile function.
L-arginine is a naturally-occurring amino. It’s one of the numerous substances that contribute to the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps to relax blood vessels in the smooth muscle tissue of the penis and help you get an erection.
Like red ginseng, L-arginine is sometimes marketed as a natural alternative to medications such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra).
Studies of L-arginine show mixed results, with some indicating that it might help to treat ED and others finding it ineffective.
While these studies are certainly interesting, it’s worth noting that neither study involved a large sample group.
On the other hand, a 1999 study in Urologia Internationalis found that daily use of three 500mg oral L-arginine supplements was no more effective than a placebo.
In short, the jury is still out on L-arginine as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. While there is evidence that it may help to manage your blood pressure, the scientific data to support it as a treatment for ED definitely isn’t conclusive.
Rhodiola rosea is an herb sourced from Rhodiola, a plant that grows throughout the far north of Asia, Europe and North America. Known as arctic root, it’s promoted on natural health websites as a treatment for everything from stress to depression, diabetes and — you guessed it — ED.
While there’s some evidence to support a few of rhodiola rosea’s other benefits, the evidence to support it as a treatment for ED is lacking.
Many blogs and websites that promote rhodiola rosea as a treatment for ED refer to old studies, most of which feature small sample sizes and unclear findings.
One more recent study from 2016 found that Rhodiola rosea may be helpful as a treatment for premature ejaculation, but found that it didn’t produce any improvements in erectile function.
In short, while there might be benefits to rhodiola rosea, there definitely isn’t a large amount of modern, high-quality evidence to show that it treats erectile dysfunction.
Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is an endogenous steroid hormone that’s produced by the body. One of the most abundant steroid hormones, DHEA is a precursor hormone that plays a role in the production of both estrogen and androgen sex hormones such as testosterone.
DHEA is widely marketed as a supplement, both for its purported athletic performance benefits and for its supposed effects on libido. It’s also promoted as an erectile dysfunction treatment.
While there’s some evidence that DHEA may raise testosterone levels in middle-aged men, the scientific evidence to back up claims that it treats erectile dysfunction is limited.
As such, it’s best to view DHEA as a “maybe” treatment option for ED. It’s also important to note that although DHEA is available over the counter, it’s classified as a banned substance by WADA and several other sports governing bodies.
Our guide to DHEA for men goes into greater detail about the effects of this supplement, as well as what you should know if you’re considering it for sexual health.
Although acupuncture isn’t something you can do yourself from home, it’s sometimes promoted as a potential erectile dysfunction treatment.
Like many other traditional treatments for ED, the evidence in support of acupuncture is mixed and generally not very reliable.
A study from 1999 published in the International Journal of Impotence Research found that 15 percent of patients suffering from erectile dysfunction experienced improvements in the quality of their erections after undergoing four weeks of acupuncture treatment.
This study only involved 16 people, with the researchers concluding that no definite conclusions could be drawn from the research.
Another study, this time from 2013, found that men with ED as a side effect of antidepressant usage reported significant improvements in sexual functioning after following an acupuncture protocol for 12 weeks.
However, this is another instance where real research is scant, and where even the available studies have quite a few drawbacks and shortcomings.
In the first study, the sample only consisted of 16 patients, and researchers also noted that acupuncture improved erection quality (and only by 15 percent, overall) but produced no clear changes in factors that can contribute clinically to ED.
Likewise, in the second study, the researchers didn’t note how small (or large) their sample size was, and participants were only observed for 12 weeks.
While we aren’t saying acupuncture can’t possibly help alleviate the symptoms of ED, there just isn’t enough research to show that it’s effective right now.
Epimedium, or horny goat weed, is another well-known natural supplement that’s marketed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
While there’s some evidence that horny goat weed may inhibit PDE5 — an enzyme that controls blood flow to the penis — there’s no reputable scientific evidence showing that it causes any real improvements in the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
We’ve discussed horny goat weed and its potential sexual effects in more detail in our full guide to horny goat weed and erectile dysfunction.
Pomegranate juice is frequently cited on natural health blogs as a healthy, natural treatment for ED.
While pomegranate juice does have a range of health benefits, mostly related to its vitamin and antioxidant content, the evidence that it treats ED is extremely limited.
Most of the claims made about pomegranate juice and ED trace back to a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research.
The study, which found a small, statistically insignificant improvement in erectile activity (out of 42 subjects with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, 25 reported improvements after drinking the juice), was funded by a juice company called POM Wonderful, LLC.
After the study started to make headlines, the claims it made about the benefits of pomegranate juice for erectile dysfunction were quickly debunked.
While a glass a day certainly won’t harm you, there’s no reliable evidence to back up any claims that pomegranate juice is a natural alternative to Viagra or proven treatment for ED.
While you may be tempted to see if a natural remedy works for your erectile dysfunction, even if you aren’t entirely sure it will work, there are some real safety risks to DIY ED treatment that you should consider.
The biggest concern is that ED can often be a symptom of larger health problems, such as heart disease or a urologic disorder.
Without getting medical advice from a health professional about ED, you could miss the signs of a more serious issue.
The other problem is that herbal remedies and supplements aren’t reviewed or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This means that their side effects, safety risks and interactions haven’t always been thoroughly researched in clinical trials.
“Natural” doesn’t always mean safe, especially if you have other health conditions or take other medications, including prescription drugs.
Because of this, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before using any treatment for ED, even if it’s a home remedy or herbal supplement.
They’ll be able to review your medical history and let you know if these treatments are safe for you.
Erectile dysfunction is a common medical condition that can affect men of all ages. As such, it’s easy to understand why so many men are interested in trying home remedies and other natural options for improving blood flow and erectile function.
While some diet and lifestyle-focused changes, such as losing weight and exercising, can help to treat erectile dysfunction, the evidence for popular natural remedies such as rhodiola rosea, red ginseng, horny goat weed and pomegranate juice isn’t very convincing.
Likewise, many supplements that are marketed as natural treatments for ED are backed up by data that isn’t always as reliable as it can appear at first.
Almost all cases of erectile dysfunction are treatable. If you have ED, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and find out what treatment is right for you.
Currently, the most effective treatments for ED are medications such as sildenafil, tadalafil and Stendra. These work by increasing blood flow to your penis, letting you get and stay hard when you need to.
If you’re interested in taking action to treat your ED, you can schedule a free online consultation with a licensed, board-certified healthcare professional to learn more about your options.
You can also learn more about erectile dysfunction in our guides to common causes of erectile dysfunction and the most effective erectile dysfunction treatments and drugs.