Impotence (Erectile Dysfunction)
As a precursor of nitric oxide, arginine may be involved in facilitating penile erection
and may be useful in cases of erectile dysfunction (ED). Studies have reported
improvements in erectile dysfunction following arginine supplementation among men
with abnormal nitric oxide metabolism. In one specific study 40% of men taking 2.8g
per day of arginine experienced an improvement in ED compared to none in the
Korean (Panax) Ginseng
Panax ginseng has traditionally been used for male sexual dysfunction and recent
evidence would appear to support its use. Studies suggest that panax increases sperm
formation, testosterone levels and sexual activity in animals and recent studies in
humans suggest a role in erectile dysfunction. The exact mechanism of action is not
clear, however, as an adaptogenic herb, at least some of its effects might be due to its
ability to improve tolerance to stress, a mojor issue for many men with erectile
Ginkgo appears to have blood vessel dilating effects, and is widely used as a general
circulatory tonic. However, studies suggest that extracts of Ginkgo biloba may also be
useful in erectile dysfunction, especially where impaired blood flow is the primary
cause. In one study, 60 subjects with erectile dysfunction were given 60mg of ginkgo
extract per day. After six months 50% of subjects reported normal potency. The
improvement of the arterial inflow to the erectile tissue was attributed to Ginkgo
biloba extract, which appears to improve blood flow through arteries and veins
without increasing blood pressure.
Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb with a variety of reported benefits, including the
support of endocrine and reproductive function in both men and women. In an open
study, 26 out of 35 men with erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation (of 1-
20 years duration) responded to Rhodiola supplementation (150-200 mg/day for 3
months) with substantially improved sexual function and normalisation of prostatic
fluid. With stress being a major issue in erectile dysfunction the adaptogenic properties
of Rhodiola make it an especially relevant herb in this condition.
Zinc is one of the most important minerals for male reproductive health and is found
in high concentrations in semen. Zinc deficiency may cause the body to reduce sexual
drive as a mechanism by which to retain zinc status.
Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (gPLC)
A study in Italy showed that three grams of acetyl-L-carnitine and PLC in combination
was as good as testosterone in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, and further studies
have shown gPLC to be especially helpful in potentiating the action of Viagra.
Erectile Dysfunction Summary
Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
L-Arginine1 500 – 4000mg per day (away from food)
Panax (Korean) Ginseng (8% ginsenosides)2 250 – 750mg per day
Ginkgo biloba (24% ginkoflavoglycosides)3 60 – 180mg per day
Rhodiola rosea extract4 250 – 750mg per day
Zinc5 15 – 30mg per day
Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine6 500 – 2000mg per day (away from food)
High quality protein
Nuts and seeds
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Take regular exercise
Limit exposure to environmental toxins
Minimise impact of stress (employ stress management techniques)
1. Do not use concurrently with NSAIDs, platelet inhibitors, alendronate, theophylline products,
oral or injectable corticosteroids. Caution should be exercised with potassium sparing diuretics
and ACE inhibitors. Not to be taken by schizophrenics, pregnant or nursing women and those
suffering renal or hepatic failure.
2. Do not use in pregnancy or lactation. Do not use concurrently with Warfarin, anticoagulants,
MAOI anti-depressant or anti-diabetic medication unless under medical supervision.
3. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. Do not take concurrently with Warfarin, anticoagulant
medication, MAOI antidepressants or platelet inhibitors unless under medical supervision.
4. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. Do not use concurrently with anti-depressant
medication unless under medical supervision.
5. Long term intake >100mg per day may suppress the immune system. Adequate copper intake is
advised with long-term zinc supplementation.
6. gPLC should be used in conjunction with other medications under medical supervision only.