There are an array of herbs for ED that can help the body with the amount of energy and blood flow it needs 

Today we are talking about herbs for ED. Erectile dysfunction is a prevalent issue affecting up to half the population of men between the ages of 40 and 70. Also, a man below the age of 40 can also experience erectile dysfunction, of course, and I’ve had several clients in their 20’s and 30’s who have suffered from it.

Let’s consider some of the main causes. First, there is burn out, where there’s not enough energy. The Chinese would investigate the status of the Chinese Kidney Yin and Yang. Kidney Yin is, among other things, the underlying reservoir of vital force that you can always draw upon, and Kidney Yang is that libido force that you always want steady, strong, capable of turning it up a few notches or keeping it on a slow, steady burn. You want to have reliable access to Kidney Yang, and one of the main reasons why men experience erectile dysfunction is because there is a deficiency in this area. Also, from a Western scientific metabolic pathway point of view, there is a decrease in the amount of testosterone that is being produced and made available. Additionally, there are other androgens that are helpful and necessary for increasing vigor, erection force, strength and endurance, and these too may be lacking.

Another area is the ability to increase the amount of energy, like ATP energy provided by mitochondria. Also, there is a desire to increase nitric oxide, which has a strong effect increasing erectile force and circulation to the area. This helps circulation stay strong and bring blood to the phallus so that it can form and maintain an erection. These are the most common areas to look at, and there are herbs that are helpful for each area.

Herbs for ED: Understanding adaptogens and plants from around the world

Although I have talked about potential reasons for ED from a Chinese point of view, I am not going to limit my herbal recommendations to Chinese herbs alone. First and foremost and in general, adaptogens are very helpful herbs for addressing ED. A few that have definite restorative and fortifying benefit for the make reproductive system and libido include Chinese ginseng (Panax panax), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium), ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) and eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

The herbs mentioned above are both nourishing and stimulating. Chinese say they benefit both the Kidney Yin and Yang. There are also Kidney Yin-replenishing, blood-building, adaptogenic herbs that are deeply nourishing and restorative but not necessarily stimulating in nature. Some herbs for ED in this category from the Chinese materia medica include goji/gou qi zi berries (Lycium barbata), Processed rehmannia/shu di huang (Rehmannia glutinosa), and dong quai/Chinese angelica/dang gui] (Angelica sinensis). Dong quai is very useful here. Even though it is world renowned for its superlative female reproductive virtues, it is also valuable male reproductive medicine — for supplying circulation, building blood, and offering more of that nitric oxide metabolic influence.

Dodder/tu si zi seed (Cuscuta spp.), the parasitic plant that looks like orange Silly String, is another excellent all-around male reproductive tonic. Whether for impotency (ED) or infertility, dodder is known definitively to increase testosterone levels and strengthen men who are weaker or insufficient in this area.

Other herbs from Chinese materia medica that are helpful here include he shou wu (Polygonum multiflorum), cynomorium/suo yang (Cynomorium songaricum), morinda/ba ji tian (Morinda officinalis), and tribulus/bai ji li (Tribulus terrestris). The latter two are both good at increasing testosterone.

Herbs for ED: A Chinese superstar herb

Epimedium (also known as horny goat weed) is a superstar herb for ED. The leaf of epimedium (Epimedium grandiflorum) hits on multiple areas and is probably the individual herb most comprehensively impactful for improving erectile force. It should not be used alone, and formulas containing it should also contain Kidney Yin restoratives. I like to blend several of the herbs mentioned above in different ways so that there are multiple directional forces involved.

Careful if you are attempting this DYI. The herbs I have mentioned have different dosage ranges, and they all work better in concert with other herbs. You may want to find an herbalist or apothecary that has an extensive inventory of herbs, and of course stocked with Chinese herbs.

Three things I must emphasize. First, Chinese medicine practitioners do not view herbs the way most Western practitioners who use herbs do —  in a “this for that” manner. They combine herbs in subtle ways, where some have no seeming direct influence on male libido from a Western point of view, but in concert with other herbs create a positive effect. Second, from the Chinese point of view, there is no one kind of ED common to all males. Different underlying factors create different scenarios. There are at least five different avenues that Chinese practitioners would investigate, and each would merit a different approach with different herbal formula recommendations (although a few of the herbs find themselves in formula after formula, and these are the ones I make mention of). Third, Chinese medicine has been at this for a long time, and many of their formulations date back centuries or more, and have been altered and refined over the generations. And they keep very good written records. I would strongly recommend seeking out a practitioner versed in Chinese medicine in order to hone in on the source of the complaint. And give the protocol time. In-the-moment aphrodisiacs that act like pharmaceutical stimulants (like sildenafil/Viagra and tadalafil/Cialis) do not help the source of the situation, and these drugs may actually be causing further down-the-road depletion or complications, and they certainly have adverse side effects.

Herbs for ED: Options outside of China

In addition to Chinese herbs, there are plant medicines from other regions of the world that are helpful in addressing ED and male libido. In Ayurvedic medicine, there is tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia), sometimes called Malaysian ginseng. As of this time I am not familiar with this plant medicine, but it is touted as being at the top of the charts for helping with ED.

From South America, muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides) and suma (Hebanthe eriantha), sometimes called Brazilian ginseng, are two Brazilian rainforest herbs that are also used for ED. Maca (Lepidium meyenii), from the higher elevations in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia is another, although there are mixed reviews about its efficacy in this area. At the very least, it is a super food and deeply nourishing medicine.

An herb that is touted for ED that I prefer not to use is yohimbe (Pausinystalia johimbe), native to West tropical Africa. This plant definitely works, but it also can increase blood pressure, cause tension, and vascular dilative headaches. So from my point of view, it’s not worth it. If you do want to use it, use it sparingly and right before the sexual act and be aware of any potential adverse side effects. A lot of the other herbs that I mentioned can be used long-term to restore, fortify and help to correct ED from the inside out and the foundation up, but yohimbe is not one of them. It is purely stimulating, and strongly so. Again… beware, as in be aware.

Herbs for ED: Options that grow in America

There are also herbs for ED famously used in the US. Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is one example. The berries of this Florida native are famed for aiding a weakened male (and female for that matter) reproductive system where testosterone levels and uptake are an issue. Pine pollen is another new celebrity on the male reproductive tonic scene, and the best pollen to use comes from Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). Oftentimes these extracts are mixed with circulatory-enhancing herbs. Ginkgo leaf (Ginkgo biloba) is one such herb that is used to help bring these medicines to the periphery, and to the sinuses of the corpus cavernosum of the phallus.

An aphrodisiac formula plus a deep core formula is a way to achieve a comprehensive formulation. Herbs like Scots pine pollen and epimedium are going to make their way into either of these kinds of formulations, but maybe not together, and certainly not in a Chinese blend, because they do not use pine pollen. They would be more apt to use dodder seed.

Exercise in addition to using herbs for ED

Yoga, Pilates and core-strengthening exercises like Kegel exercises are also strongly recommended for ED. There’s a series of yoga exercises called the kriyas, from which Pilates is likely derived, that I strongly recommend. If you were to start incorporating these practices, movements, positions, and the breathing that goes along with it, you will fast increase vigor and strength because it strongly increases circulation — both the flow of blood and flow of qi — through the pelvic and reproductive areas. I encourage you to take yoga classes and learn these exercises, or at the very least watch a YouTube video to see what I am talking about.

Reducing stress is the last (but not least) thing that must be mentioned. A lot of issues with erectile dysfunction, especially in younger folk where there’s not always a good reason for there to be deficiency, stem from overwork, constant worry, prolonged stress, PTSD and other psychological issues.

Interested in becoming an herbalist?

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