Erectile dysfunction or impotence is a widespread problem in males. It refers to the inability to reach or maintain an erection, often impeding sexual intercourse.
The causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) are varied, but it can often be treated without the need for medication.
This article will discuss the use of essential oils in treating ED.
Fast facts on essential oils for ED:
- The penis receives blood through the arteries and blood vessels running through it.
- People have long associated essential oils with having therapeutic benefits when inhaled or applied diluted to the skin.
- Decisions to use essential oils should be made with the approval of a healthcare professional.
When the brain initiates a state of arousal, it sends signals to the penis that cause its arteries to widen and allow more blood to flow through it.
When the amount of blood flowing into the penis is restricted, the erection is lost. The inability to reach or maintain an erection can happen for a variety of reasons, such as an overconsumption of alcohol or fatigue.
The inability to hold an erection is diagnosed as ED when it occurs persistently.
This is an indication that there is an underlying problem preventing the penis from becoming sufficiently erect.
Most often, the problem relates to:
- An insufficient blood flow: Conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol can prevent a sufficient flow of blood.
- Damaged nerve tissue: Certain medications or conditions such as Peyronie's disease can damage tissue around the penis and prevent erections from occurring.
- A lack of stimulation: This can relate to psychological factors, such as depression and anxiety, or to a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis that disrupts signals between the brain and the penis.
Depending on the cause, ED can be treated in a variety of different ways and might involve medication, therapy or changes in lifestyle. Natural remedies, such as essential oils, can also be helpful in treating ED in males.
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that contain the chemical compounds that make up the aroma of the plant they derive from. They are produced through distillation, and can be harmful if used in their pure form; people must dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before use.
Do not apply essential oils directly to the skin. Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil — the usual dilution is 3 to 5 drops of essential oil in one ounce of carrier oil.
Each type of oil has different properties and can be used to achieve different effects. While there is evidence to suggest that essential oils can help to treat certain conditions, such as acne or a headache, studies have shown that they can have several adverse side effects, including allergic reactions.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate essential oils, so they should be used with a high degree of caution and only in consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.
The evidence underlying the use of essential oils in treating ED is often anecdotal, but some empirical work has been conducted to suggest certain oils may be helpful:
- Ginger: Ginger is used widely in alternative medicine for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A study in 2014 found that daily ginger extract supplementation in mice stimulated the production of sperm after 22 days compared to a control group. Other studies found that ginger extracts reduced male infertility in rats.
- Cinnamon: Research in rats has found that cinnamon extracts could promote reproductive health and stimulate the production of sperm and testosterone, to improve sexual functioning.
- Watermelon seed: Watermelon seed extracts have antioxidant properties and can protect and promote sperm health in rats. A 2013 study found that the daily administration of watermelon seed extract in male rats for 28 days increased their sperm concentration and motility compared to a control group.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is widely used in both traditional and modern medicine for several purposes. Research in mice has found that Aloe vera extracts may be useful for treating sexual dysfunctions as it can stimulate cell division and increase testosterone production, which has the effect of increasing sperm cell count.
- Nutmeg: Nutmeg extracts have long been used in the traditional medicine of South Asia (Unani medicine) to treat sexual dysfunction in males. One study found nutmeg to be associated with higher levels of sexual activity in rats.
- Clove: Clove extracts are another traditional aphrodisiac used in Unani medicine, as suggested by one study that found a sustained increase in the sexual activity of male rats that consumed clove extracts.
Currently, there are no conclusive studies to demonstrate that essential oils can effectively treat ED in human males because much of the empirical research has been conducted in rodents rather than humans.
Essential oils can be toxic and should never be taken by mouth. Anyone considering using essential oils for ED should speak with a certified aromatherapist first. Essential oils should be diffused into the air or applied diluted in a carrier oil before applying to the skin. While essential oils can have adverse side effects, when used correctly, they are considered safe and could still have benefits for ED.
Aside from essential oils, there are other alternative treatments for ED that people can pursue. Talk to a healthcare provider for the best treatment as ED can be a symptom of other problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or prostate issues.