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Treating Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Is Watermelon a Natural Viagra?

Can watermelon treat erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition in men, particularly as they get older. Prescription medications, such as sildenafil (Viagra), can help stimulate blood flow back to the penis to help resolve ED. There are also many herbal supplements and natural remedies marketed as alternative treatments for ED.

One such product is derived from a summertime staple: watermelon. That’s because of an amino acid in watermelon called L-citrulline. L-citrulline is said to stimulate blood flow to the penis.

The research surrounding L-citrulline is not conclusive enough to prove that watermelon should be your go-to treatment method for managing symptoms of ED.

Read on to learn more about watermelon, L-citrulline, and ED.

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Research

Research

Watermelon contains high amounts of L-citrulline. This is a nonessential amino acid. Once it’s taken up by your nitric oxide system, it then promotes blood vessel dilation. As a result, your blood pressure decreases. Blood flow also improves.

L-citrulline may help stimulate enzymes called cGMPs. They play a direct role in blood flow. The thought is that more L-citrulline consumption could help improve ED. Unscientific accounts of L-citrulline are numerous on the internet, especially by supplement manufacturers.

In terms of scientific data, a few studies have looked at the role of L-citrulline in ED. One study published in Urology found that 24 men who took supplements over the course of a month noted improvements in mild ED symptoms. Another study looked at the effect of watermelon extract on male rats’ sexual activity and found an increase in activity. More long-term research needs to be conducted to explore the efficacy and overall safety of L-citrulline.

L-citrulline supplements

You should only take L-citrulline supplements with your doctor’s consent. While no severe side effects are known, there’s a potential for drug interactions, especially if you already take an ED drug such as Viagra. Also, it’s important to note that the supplements offer the most promise for moderate forms of ED. It’s important to know that supplements are not monitored by the FDA for safety or purity. Buy any supplement from a reputable source.

Read more: Are L-citrulline supplements a safe treatment for erectile dysfunction? »

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Other sources

Other sources of L-citrulline

You’d need to eat about 3 1/2 cups of diced watermelon per day to match the L-citrulline levels found in supplements. Orange and yellow varieties of watermelon may have slightly higher levels, which means you can eat less to reap the same citrulline levels of traditional red watermelon.

L-citrulline is also naturally present in some other foods. These include garlic, fish, and legumes.

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Benefits vs. risks

Benefits vs. risks of watermelon

Men with mild to moderate ED might benefit from taking L-citrulline via watermelon or through supplements. When eating watermelon, you can reap the nutritional benefits outside of L-citrulline. Watermelon is a high source of vitamins A and C as well as fiber and potassium.

Antioxidants are good for your overall health and longevity but in moderate amounts. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, high levels of antioxidants can actually be harmful. Another consideration is that supplemental forms of antioxidants aren’t a good replacement for those consumed through fresh foods. This is because supplement-based antioxidants aren’t processed by the body the same way.

The actual fruit isn’t likely to cause any risks. However, if you have pollen allergies, you may want to use caution. Some people who have grass pollen allergies experience allergic reactions to raw fruits and veggies. This is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). OAS usually causes mild symptoms, such as skin rash. Rarely, it can cause more severe reactions like breathing difficulties. Use extra caution during grass allergy season to prevent possible reactions. If you have asthma, ask your doctor about taking supplements before trying them.

L-citrulline can interact with prescription medications for:

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Talk to your doctor

Talk to your doctor

If you do decide to take L-citrulline supplements, talk to your doctor first. This is especially important if you’re already taking other supplements or medications. L-citrulline supplements ought to be considered a part of your penile health plan and not as a replacement for another medication you might need. Talk to your doctor about all your options.

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Outlook

Outlook

Watermelon can be one natural way to safely reduce ED. Eating watermelon alone likely won’t solve the issue long-term, though. This is because ED is often a symptom of another underlying condition, such as high cholesterol. You’ll need to see your doctor to help manage any health issues you might be experiencing. Resolving these will likely improve ED.

At the same time, eating moderate amounts of watermelon can’t hurt. Not only is there the possibility of improved libido, but you’ll also reap the antioxidant benefits of the fruit such as those found in vitamins A and C.

L-citrulline supplements may not be as effective for ED. They also haven’t been studied as extensively as Viagra.

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