Ask Dr. Mike: Natural Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction & Low Libido

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

Is there anything natural for erectile dysfunction? My doctor said I can't take Viagra. What about boosting libido in general?

There are some natural ways to treat erectile dysfunction, such as increasing nitric oxicide overall. This is made in the lining of your cells and helps your heart, blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. One supplement that has been known to increase nitric oxicide is L-Arginine.

Libido is a different story, as it has to do with your sex drive. However there are natural supplements like B vitamins, L-Arginine, pine bark extract, Icariin, and maca that can help.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.
Transcription:

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: March 26, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call now at 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

DR MIKE: So, hey you've got a question. Send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I really love this part of the show and, as I said before, I do my best to kind of read these and answer these off the cuff and if I need to do some research, I will, if I don't know the answer. I will help you. Specifically, me personally, will reach out to you and I will help you find that answer, so send me your questions.

This next one, when I first read it, I'm going to be honest, it made me laugh a little bit. When it comes to guys, you know, I could be doing a lecture on the brain; I could do a lecture on bad joints. You know I do lectures for Life Extension Foundation all over the country. I could be doing a lecture on macular degeneration and there's always at some point in my Q&A point, there's always somebody, some guy, somehow trying to relate what I just talked about to erectile dysfunction and low libido. So, I laughed, when you think about us guys, it is what it is. So, here it is:

"Is there anything natural for erectile dysfunction? My doctor said I can't take Viagra and what about improving libido in general?"

So, let me just mention the Viagra thing. Just so you know Viagra does work. What's nice about it is you can take it when you need it. It does dilate vessels. It's a vasodilator, which is part of the mechanism of how it works, so you have to be careful if you're already taking like blood pressure medications or if you have heart issues. So, that's probably why your doctor might say you can't take Viagra, okay? There are definite contraindications to that drug.

So, what can we do naturally? Well, if the whole point of helping an erection is to dilate the blood vessels so the blood can fill the penis better, that's the whole goal. Well, the natural thing to that or to accomplish that is to increase nitric oxide production. Right? If you listen to my show, I've talked about nitric oxide a lot. That's the compound that is made by the cells that line the inside of the arteries. Those cells are called "endothelial cells".

And so, the best thing you can do is help those cells produce nitric oxide. That's going to help your heart. That's going to help your blood pressure and it can help erectile dysfunction. So, the one supplement that has been studied in this context for this very reason, is arginine. Arginine is the precursor to nitric oxide production by the endothelial cells. So, arginine has to come into the endothelial cells. They bring they bring the arginine in, and out pops nitric oxide.

A couple of studies have shown that supplementing with arginine does help. Now it's about 50/50 and what that means is that if you look at these studies, you have one group of guys on the arginine and another group not and about half of the guys in the arginine group get a significant positive benefit compared to the placebo. But about the other half, they don't have anything, even at high doses of arginine. So, it's a hit and miss thing. Why is that? I don't know if I have an answer. Arginine is used in the body for lots of different things, so maybe it's just not being delivered to the endothelial cells. Maybe the amount of nitric oxide production from the arginine is less in some guys than in others.

I don' t know if I have an absolute answer but for at least half of the guys who try arginine,--1 gram, 2 gram, maybe even 3 grams. Just increase slowly. That's the key thing. Increase slowly. You can get up to even 4, even 5 grams of arginine a day and you should be okay. It does help. It helps with erectile dysfunction.

Now libido is a different story. Libido simply means sex drive. I think a great place to start when you have low libido--and don't just assume it's part of aging, that's an old thought process. "Oh I'm getting older, I'm not supposed to have sex anymore." That's not true. Sexually active couples live longer. That's been shown over and over again. Sexually active couples live longer and they stay together longer, too. Why is that? Well, when you're sexually active, it's just healthy for you. It's just a sign of a healthy body. So eat right, exercise, do all of your supplementations.

If you have a partner, stay sexually active and that's a really good thing. So, if your libido is dropping, that doesn't have to be like that. Low libido is not normal no matter what the age is once you start getting up into the adult years, right? Eighteen and up. I guess I have to say that. So, low libido, I think, is something that should be addressed. The first thing I want to mention here, because I think this is something we forget, most of libido happens in your brain. As a matter of fact Dr. Eric Braverman, -- think he's a doctor in New York. Don't quote me on that.

But, he used to be a Life Extension Health Advisory board member. And 2 or 3 years ago, when he was working with us, on occasion he wrote a really, really good article on low libido and what's going on in the brain when that happens. He talks about boosting certain neurotransmitters to improve low libido. In particular, I remember from this article, dopamine and acetylcholine. Those two neurotransmitters need to be optimized.

You can boost dopamine levels. There are supplements that are related to what's called Levodopa, which is a drug we use for things like Parkinson's and stuff, so there are supplement forms of that that can boost dopamine. But also things like the polyunsaturated fats, B Vitamins, phenylalanine which is an amino acid, you can use those to boost dopamine. And then acetylcholine, pretty much anything that is choline based. Products that have choline as the backbone-phosphatidylcholine, phosphorylcholine, any supplement like that will help to boost acetylcholine.

So, dopamine and acetylcholine are extremely important to boosting your brain if you have low libido. Now, other things that have been known to work are, for instance, at Life Extension we did some research on the combination of arginine, which I mentioned before with the ED, arginine, aspartic acid and pycnogenol, which is pine bark extract. That combination helped with ED and with libido. There is an herb, Epimedium Sagittatum, it's also called icariin. It's not one of the more commonly known libido boosters like matcha or something, but icariin from Epimedium Sagittatum has been shown to be quite good at boosting libido in men. Matcha seems to be a little bit better in women but matcha is an option for men as well. Also, muira puama, which is a rainforest herb. It's listed in the Brazilian Pharmacopoeia as an aphrodisiac, although I don't really know if there's really a true aphrodisiac.

This rainforest herb information was presented, by the way, in France at a libido type conference--I don't remember the full name of the conference--but it was in the 90's when it was really introduced. We're talking like 62% improvement in libido. Men just felt better, they had more energy during sex so that's another herb that you can consider.

So, muira puama, matcha, pycnogenol, aspartic acid, arginine, don't forget the neurotransmitters dopamine, B Vitamins. Phenylalanine can boost dopamine, acetylcholine--any choline based fat will produce that neurotransmitter in your brain. And then, just for good ole' fashioned erectile dysfunction plain old arginine. Give it a try. Start with a gram a day. Work it up to, maybe 5 grams a day. Just go slow with it and that might work for you. So, there you go. Some natural treatments for ED and low libido.

This is Healthy Talk with Dr. Mike on RadioMD. Stay well.