Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/16/2022
So, you’re a “natural cure” kinda guy with a struggling sex life, and you’re wondering how much turmeric to take for erectile dysfunction. Is it a tablespoon a day? A few grams? Can you consume it in food or does it have to be raw?
Questions about the best way to take “natural ingredients” like turmeric for medical issues like erectile dysfunction are hard to answer, in part because while there may be evidence that turmeric can help ED sufferers in some contexts, it’s not always the case that it can help at all.
Conditions like erectile dysfunction are complex, and they can frequently have multiple root causes, multiple triggering risk factors, and connections to any number of other health conditions.
So, is turmeric good for your erectile dysfunction? It could be, and certain studies have shown us some positive results. But before you go incorporating it into every dish you cook at home, there are some things you should understand about how turmeric can affect erectile dysfunction.
As we’ve already mentioned, erectile dysfunction is a complex health problem. While the most obvious symptom of ED is a failure to achieve an erection in sexual situations, there are numerous psychological, cardiovascular, nervous and hormonal factors that could potentially be responsible for ED.
To say that turmeric is good for erectile dysfunction outright is to suggest that turmeric is a magic ingredient that will banish your bedroom stage fright. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
One place turmeric seems to shine, however, is as an anti-inflammatory ingredient. A particular component of turmeric — called curcumin — has been shown to aid in the treatment of inflammatory diseases in animal studies.
You could see positive effects from a number of purported turmeric benefits, including:
Cell proliferation inhibiting abilities in cancer treatment
Managing cardiac and kidney disorders
You’ll notice that erectile dysfunction is not on that list. It’s only been in the last several years that sexual function and turmeric have been looked at in formal clinical research on turmeric for the treatment of ED, but the research we do have appears promising.
For instance, a particular molecular structure in turmeric has been associated with benefits to a physiological issue associated with ED — high blood pressure.
But an association and the potential for benefits are hardly the same as a recommendation for a treatment.
That said, let’s explore the potential benefits for erectile health that turmeric brings to the table.
One of the most compelling pieces of research is a 2015 study that looked at sexual function in rats.
The study looked at how turmeric and ginger, which have been used in alternative medicine, affect hypertension and the resulting erectile dysfunction issues that can occur as a result.
The rats who had turmeric supplements saw better fertility than those without. However, this data on dietary supplements did not include any normal erectile findings.
Three years later, however, a 2018 study using rats with simulated type 2 diabetes found that curcumin applied topically to the penis may effectively treat erectile dysfunction, though the particular reason why was not determined.
That study called for more testing to determine optimized practices and explore toxicity risks, which means a “treatment” recommendation could be years away, even with promising initial data.
But it also means that it’s a topic worth exploring.
For all the purported benefits that turmeric offers, there’s far too little information on erectile and sexual health for turmeric to be a primary part of your ED management plan.
Consume all the turmeric you want, of course — turmeric powder, turmeric extracts — the list of benefits appears good regardless of the effects of turmeric on your erectile function, and unlike some other medications, natural turmeric doesn’t deliver much in the way of adverse effects or systemic side effects.
However, when it comes to treating ED, there are several FDA-approved, science-backed treatments you can (and should) talk to your healthcare provider about. These medications are called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors.
There’s a little more to it than that but, for the time being, we’ll just say that PDE5 inhibitors are effective at managing ED when used as directed.
Common PDE5 inhibitors include:
Sildenafil (Viagra®). Short-acting, taken as-needed roughly an hour before sex and lasts approximately four hours.
Tadalafil (Cialis®). Long-lasting, taken as-needed or daily and lasts up to 36 hours.
Vardenafil (Levitra®). Short-acting, can be taken in as little as 15 minutes before sex and lasts roughly four to five hours.
Avanafil (Stendra®). Short-acting, taken as needed and lasts around five hours.
All of the PDE5 inhibitors mentioned above come with their own side effects, but some of the common — and mild — ones they share include things like facial flushing, headaches, nasal congestion, muscle and back pain, cold-like symptoms and indigestion.
You can read more about PDE5 inhibitors — including how they work, what their side effects are and why they’re considered first-line ED treatments — in our guide to PDE5 inhibitors.
Other ways of treating and managing erectile dysfunction are a little more involved than pills, but they have additional beneficial effects beyond ED management.
Therapy, for instance, is a great place to examine the potential psychological triggers of erectile dysfunction.
Not everyone who has ED has a psychological issue causing the problem, but anyone who has experienced ED can probably benefit from talking about the experience in a judgment-free environment.
If it turns out that your ED is linked to things like self-esteem issues, stress, anxiety or depression, therapy may be one of the most effective ways to get back to full mast.
There are also certain lifestyle changes you can make that may be beneficial to your erectile function. ED can be caused by conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, poor health, poor heart health specifically and cardiovascular disease of almost all types.
Addressing these conditions with things like getting proper rest, eating a proper diet and exercising regularly can help you both in and out of the bedroom.
Indian and South Asian cuisine is delicious and we’d never want to dissuade you from some great recipes, but you’re not going to cure ED from having more curry. Dietary changes only go so far. What works is getting professional support.
All of the treatments and ways of managing ED that we’ve mentioned are great, but a healthcare provider can help you identify your particular ED causes and risks and target those for better results.
It makes sense if you think about it: going to the gym isn’t going to remove a psychological block, and sitting in therapy isn’t going to improve your heart health.
Doing the right thing for your body, your sexual performance and your holistic health isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if you want to have a long and fulfilling life.