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When it comes to erectile dysfunction, many patients turn to natural remedies to find relief. One substance used for centuries to promote sexual health is Ashwagandha. Although it may help some aspects of sexual health, can Indian ginseng also treat ED?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability for men to initiate and maintain an erection [1]. It is a common problem in not only elderly patients but can manifest in patients as young as in their 20s. Multiple co-morbidities can predispose patients to getting erectile dysfunction and generally depend on their age ranges. Some of the more common chronic conditions would be diseases like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus which would be primarily seen in older adults. Stress disorders like anxiety and depression or chronic alcoholism are more likely to be seen in younger adults and may predispose to ED as well [2]. In medicine, two types of therapy are typically used to treat this erectile dysfunction. Systemic treatment for conditions, doctors generally try to help patients find life adjustments that can make them less likely to develop erectile dysfunction.  On the other hand, patients could also choose a quick-acting solution like taking a pharmaceutical supplement to help synthesize nitric oxide (NO) [3]. This compound is imperative in dilating blood vessels to allow blood to collect in the penis to sustain erections. The most common drug on the market for this goes by the trademark Viagra [4]. Unfortunately, this drug is not for everyone and it has the potential to interfere with a number of other medications that a patient may already be taking [5]. Some alternative options come by way of natural supplements for erectile dysfunction. Some of the more successful vitamins and dietary supplements for ED we covered included horny goat weed and how it can treat erectile dysfunction or how vitamin D can treat erectile dysfunction. As discussed in other articles, however, there are many dangerous supplements on the market and you should be prudent before consuming these products. The focus of this article will be on another popular supplement referred to as Indian Ginseng (Ashwagandha). The question is could Ashwagandha treat erectile dysfunction? 

What is Ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha is a natural supplement that has been used for centuries, most notably in Indian culture. It was believed to help promote a youthful state. More recent applications include beneficial effects on the reproductive system promoting sexual and reproductive systems. It also shares some anti-oxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals. [6]

It has also been used as a natural muscle enhancer. In one study, 57 young healthy adults were given 300 milligrams of Ashwagandha twice daily for a period of 8 weeks. Their muscle mass and exercise performance was compared against a control group. At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that Ashwagandha had a significant impact on muscle mass and exercise performance. Therefore, Ashwagandha can be used as a potent exercise aid. [7]

Studies are lacking in terms of long-term risks of taking high doses of Indian Ginseng but it appears that this medication is well-tolerated for a short duration of time.

Physicians advise to avoid Ashwagandha when a patient is pregnant or breastfeeding due to its potential influence on the fetus.

  • Ashwagandha can also cause hypotension so patients taking other erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra need to be aware of potentially dangerous interactions.
  • It can also cause intense reactions on the gastric lining of the stomach so patients with a history of stomach aches or gastric ulcers should avoid such a drug.
  • Another thing to keep in mind is that Ashwagandha can stimulate the immune system, something that is good when you are healthy, but when you are suffering from an auto-immune disease, it is something that could be catastrophic for you. A more potent immune system will be able to attack your own tissue more aggressive and patients have reported a worsening of their symptoms after using Ashwagandha. [8,9]

Will Indian Ginseng Really Help Your Erectile Dysfunction? 

Now that we know Indian Ginseng can be beneficial as long as you don't have a contraindication for the herbal preparation, let's find out if you should consider this as one of the vitamins and dietary supplements for ED. In one study done to determine if it could be a natural treatment for erectile dysfunctionAshwagandha was given to patients suffering from psychogenic erectile dysfunction. In this investigation, 86 patients were tested for a period of 60 days and at the conclusion of the study, there was no significant difference between the group treated with Ashwagandha compared to the control group. [10] This effectively rules out Ashwagandha as an aid when it comes to at least psychogenic erectile dysfunction. 

In another study done on animals, the effects of Ashwagandha was observed in rats given high doses of the compound. It was determined in as little as 3 days of high doses, Ashwagandha actually decreased libido, sexual performance, sexual vigor and erections. This is exactly what a man suffering from erectile dysfunction does not want. [11]

Although the evidence is lacking to confirm that Ashwagandha could treat erectile dysfunction, another interesting study on men's health determined that men suffering from low sperm counts noticed a 167 percent increase in sperm levels after taking Ashwagandha compared to the control groups. Sperm volume and motility were also increased by over 50 percent and blood tests show that sexual hormones are more regulated after taking Ashwagandha compared to just controls. This confirms that Ashwagandha is a beneficial substance for patients suffering from infertility. [12]

All in all, although Ashwagandha may not have a direct link in improving erectile dysfunction, men taking this compound can benefit from the increased athletic performance and it could also help those suffering from infertility. 

  • Photo courtesy of Wowbobwow12 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60520795

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