Some men may simply want to investigate Viagra alternatives because they prefer to use medication as little as possible.
If you are thinking about opting for a natural Viagra alternative it is important to bear in mind that prescription medicines are required to undergo strict testing in order to obtain a license for sale.
Herbal and other non-prescription alternatives are not always put through this same rigorous process, and therefore their efficacy and safety may not have been adequately assessed.
It's also important to note that, in many cases, to sell 'herbal Viagra' UK sites or those based abroad might not necessarily undertake any checks to ensure it is safe for the buyer to use (whereas medicines such as Viagra cannot be legally issued without prior consultation with a doctor).
As such, men who have erectile dysfunction should always talk to their GP for advice first, before trying any 'natural Viagra substitutes' or herbal remedies.
How does 'herbal Viagra' work?
The terms 'herbal Viagra' and 'natural Viagra' are used to refer to a range of products and no single one in particular. As such, how a Viagra alternative works depends on the product in question; the various different remedies function (or are claimed to function) in a range of different ways. As we'll discuss, whether they do work and, if so, how effective they are, are questions still very much open to debate.
While some 'herbal Viagra' reviews left by users on websites selling these treatments may extol their benefits, overall, clinical studies have been inconclusive.
Here are a few examples which often come up during discussion of natural Viagra alternatives:
Erections are achieved as a result of increased blood flow to the penis caused by relaxed arteries. Arginine is an essential amino acid found in many foods that may help to relax arteries and thus accelerate blood flow.
In most cases the human body produces sufficient amounts of arginine and so supplements are not usually advised.
A small study which looked into arginine as an ED treatment showed that it is no better than a placebo.
As one of the longest standing healthcare practices in the world, it should come as little surprise that some men turn to acupuncture to help their ED problem.
Whilst the insertion of fine needles into specific areas of the body fails to appeal to everyone, some believe that it can help improve energy flow.
Clinical trials looking into the benefits of acupuncture lack definitive evidence and fail to support the hypothesis that it can help those facing erection difficulties. On the subject of acupuncture and impotence the British Acupuncture Council says that it ‘couldn’t give a definite and positive recommendation.’
The herbal extract Korean red ginseng can be bought over-the-counter in capsule form and is said to supply those who take it with improved erections.
Also referred to as panax ginseng it has a high potency of ginsenosides that are thought to be the active element.
Research into the efficacy of Ginseng has supplied some promising results but the clinical understanding of the extract is not fully established and so further investigation is required before a definitive correlation can be established.
The substance can interact with medications therefore you should discuss its use with your doctor prior to purchase.
Pomegranate juice has been heralded as a ‘superfood’ due to its antioxidant qualities. More recently it has been linked to improved erectile performance.
Nitric oxide (NO) is used by the body to relax the penile smooth muscle and produce an erection.
Early research into pomegranate juice suggests that its high levels of antioxidants might protect nitric oxide levels whilst keeping oxidative stress at bay. Stable nitric oxide levels could help some men to obtain and maintain an erection.
The results of these initial investigations may seem promising but they are not classed as statistically significant. The current knowledge behind pomegranate juice and erectile dysfunction is unreliable therefore further research into the area is required.
When looking to treat ED some people turn to another herbal alternative called epimedium, more commonly known as horny goat weed.
The active component is icariin and it is thought to perform similar actions to commonly prescribed impotence medications such as PDE5 inhibitors.
Whilst non-human and laboratory studies have resulted in better functioning erections, the efficacy in humans is not yet definitive.
The tree extract ginkgo biloba can be bought in capsule and liquid form. This natural substance is thought by some to increase nitric oxide activity, thus increasing blood flow to the penis and potentially resulting in better erections.
One piece of research suggests that ginkgo improved erections in men who take certain medications such as SSRIs; however studies into the effectiveness of ginkgo have generally been inconclusive.
Other non-medicinal solutions
While prescription medicines are a widely considered route, and those men who can't take these may be tempted to try the above remedies as a possible alternative, it's incredibly important to consider that in many cases, ED cases can be resolved or prevented without the need for treatment at all.
Our mental health can have a significant impact on our overall well being and it can even manifest into physical conditions such as impotence. Social pressures can cause some men to be reluctant to seek support for psychological problems.
It is estimated that around 10-20 percent of all erectile function cases stem from psychological roots.
Anxiety, stress, past sexual experiences and mental attitude towards sex can all lead to difficulties achieving and maintaining an erection suitable for sexual activity.
It can be beneficial to address psychological barriers before commencing ED treatment. Your doctor may suggest psyschosexual counselling, cognitive behavioral therapy or sensate focus therapy. Some sessions may involve both the patient and their partner as the stress of ED can have an effect on the couple as a whole.
Perhaps the most simple yet effective 'natural Viagra substitute' is to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid or reduce the risk of ED problems, by:
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet
- Quitting smoking (if you smoke)
- Reducing your alcohol intake
- Abstaining from recreational drug use
- Taking regular exercise
- Getting sufficient sleep
- And avoiding stress where possible
Whilst the way you choose to live does not guarantee a life free from health problems, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Taking the above steps towards a healthier lifestyle can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and obesity; and in turn help to improve erectile function.