Let's Talk Sex
October 5, 2010
Herbal medicines for ED

Horny Goat Weed, also called Epimedium or by the Chinese name Yin Yan Huo, has been used in China and other parts of Asia for hundreds of years after it was recognized by a goat herder of increased sexual activity in his herd after they ingested the leaves of the weed.{{more}}

Studies show that this medication works like Viagra, albeit a weaker version, affecting nitric oxide levels. It also has strong estrogenic activity and therefore can be used to alleviate menopausal symptoms in older women. The side effects may include muscle spasms as animal studies show it affects one of the enzymes controlling muscle contraction. One of the components of this compound, icariin, has been shown to cause liver and kidney damage in high doses, so excessive use of Horny Goat Weed may not only cause priapism (cannot get it down), but liver and kidney problems. In other words it works, but not as strong as Viagra. Beware of the precautions especially in patients with pre-existing liver and kidney disease.


This compound is known to both traditional medicine and herbalist to help with erections by improving blood supply to the penis. The medicine comes from the bark of the Yohimbine tree and helps with not only erections but also increases libido and reduces periods between ejaculations. In other words, the man becomes a Duracell bunny. He keeps going and going! Yohimbine is present in a variety of herbal medications including STUD 500/1000. The problem with Yohimbine is priapism as there is no dose individualization as “one size fits all”. Yohimbine also causes dizziness, anxiety, nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, hallucinations and paralysis and a severe drop in blood pressure. Because of the severe drop in blood pressure and priapism, Yohimbine is no longer recommended to treat impotence even though it still comes in many OTC preparations. Overall, it works but it drops the pressure very low and raises the penis very high! BEWARE!


The traditional Chinese herb called Panax Ginseng or “heating ginseng” is used to treat many things, including loss of libido, impotence, loss of stamina and memory. Its action is mainly to improve general well-being, immune system, stamina and libido especially related to fatigue. In order to help impotence ginseng has to be taken continuously. The herb also has weak estrogenic properties and interactions with many medications and other herbs. Side effects are minimal and may include agitation, insomnia, palpitation, diarrhoea, headaches and high blood pressure. The American version called the “cooling Ginseng” may be used to help with high blood pressure as it lowers the blood pressure, blood sugar and temperature. Ginseng should not be used in patients with heart disease as it causes palpitation and low blood pressure. It also interacts with medications which thin the blood such as Warfarin, Aspirin and Plavix, thus increasing the risk of bleeding. Because of its actions, it interacts with medications used to treat heart rhythms, asthma, diabetes (including Insulin, Amaryl, Glipizide and Metformin) and nervous system disorders, especially antidepressants. It is also not recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers and children. In summary, it treats everything but with side effects!


This amino acid is normally present in the body and is found naturally in foods such as meats, dairy, poultry and fish. This substance is the precursor of nitric oxide the body’s natural stimulant and so it is called “natural Viagra”. There have been no significant trials of L-arginine apart from one involving 50 men using high doses of “natural Viagra”. After six weeks of continuous use, more men who used it achieved erections compared to those who did not, however it only helped those whose nitric oxide levels were already low (i.e. it is not good for people with psychologic impotence). However, L-arginine used in high doses as in this study causes heartburn and stomach upset as it increases gastric acid secretion. It should therefore not be used in people with “stomach problems”. It also causes potassium retention, especially in persons with liver problems and should therefore not be used in patients with liver problems and hypertensives using certain types of potassium sparing diuretics e.g. ACE inhibitors, ARBs and potassium sparing diuretics.


From the tree Ginkgo biloba (Kew tree), this substance has been shown in one small study to improve the erectile function in about 50% of 60 men taking it for six months continuously. Unfortunately, two subsequent studies did not confirm this.

It works by increasing the blood supply to the penis by relaxing the smooth muscles to the penis. Ginkgo is used for other medicinal purposes such as improvement of mental function, prevention of macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Unfortunately, the side effects are similar to Ginseng with precautions for persons using blood thinners and diabetes medication. There are also precautions for pregnant women and persons suffering from seizures. Both the fresh and roasted seeds can cause diarrhoea, nausea, indigestion, vomiting and skin rashes. Rarely seizures, unconsciousness, respiratory problems and death have occurred! The interactions with other medicines are known so persons using thiazide diuretics (like Bezide!), antibiotics, blood thinners, steroids, immunosupressants and anti-diabetics should beware. It even interacts with some herbs like evening primrose and wormwood. So beware!

For comments or question contact:

Dr. Rohan Deshong

Tel: (784) 456-2785

email: deshong@vincysurf.com