Sign up for our newsletter
Get health tips, wellness advice, and more

Thanks for signing up!
You've been added to our list and will hear from us soon.

See all Healthline's newsletters »

The Facts About L-Arginine Supplements and Erectile Dysfunction

Herbal Supplements and Erectile Dysfunction

If you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED), you may be willing to consider any number of promising treatment options. There’s no shortage of herbal supplements promising quick cures.

One word of advice: caution. There is little evidence supporting the use of most supplements to effectively treat ED. Still, supplements and combinations of supplements flood the market.

One of the more common supplements marketed to help treat ED is L-arginine. It’s found naturally in meat, poultry, and fish. It can also be made synthetically in a lab.

Alternative Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

What Is L-Arginine?

L-arginine is an amino acid that helps make proteins. It also becomes the gas nitric oxide (NO) in the body. NO is important to erectile function because this gas helps blood vessels relax so more oxygen-rich blood can circulate through your arteries. Healthy blood flow to the arteries of the penis is essential for normal erectile function.

Effectiveness of L-Arginine

L-arginine has been studied extensively as a possible treatment for ED and many other conditions. The results suggest that the supplement, though generally safe and well-tolerated by most men, won’t help restore healthy erectile function. The Mayo Clinic gives L-arginine a C grade when it comes to scientific evidence of successful ED treatment. However, L-arginine is often combined with other supplements, which have different results.

L-arginine and Yohimbine Hydrochloride

Yohimbine hydrochloride is an approved treatment for ED. The combination of L-arginine and yohimbine hydrochloride has shown some promise. However, the study showed that the treatment is only for mild to moderate ED.

Did You Know?
Because it can help blood vessels relax, L-arginine seems to be helpful as part of a broader treatment for heart disease.

L-arginine and Pycnogenol

While L-arginine alone may not treat your ED, the combination of L-arginine and an herbal supplement called pycnogenol may help. A study in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that the use of L-arginine and pycnogenol supplements helped a significant number of men ages 25 to 45 with ED achieve normal erections without side effects.

Pycnogenol is a trademark name for a supplement taken from the pine bark of a tree called the Pinus pinaster. Other ingredients may include extracts from peanut skin, grape seed, and witch hazel bark.

Side Effects

Like any medication or supplement, L-arginine has several potential side effects. They include:

  • increase bleeding risk
  • unhealthy imbalance of potassium in the body
  • affect blood sugar levels

You should be careful about taking L-arginine if you’re also taking established prescription ED drugs, such as sildenafil (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis). L-arginine may cause your blood pressure to drop, so if you have low blood pressure or take medications to control your blood pressure, you should avoid L-arginine or at least consult a physician before trying it.

Speak with Your Doctor

You should talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of ED. In many cases, ED has an underlying medical cause. And for many men, stress and relationship woes are also a factor.

Before taking medications or supplements consider trying home remedies to improve erectile function. If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet may help. If you smoke, quit. Smoking damages blood vessels, so quit as soon as you can. Your doctor can recommend products and programs that are proven to help people quit smoking and avoid relapses.

Erectile Dysfunction: Can Foods and Diet Help?

ED is treatable with prescription medications that are taken by millions of men with few if any side effects. Have an open conversation with your doctor or a urologist about ED in order to get help and to see if your ED could be a symptom of another condition that needs your attention.

Read This Next