Ayurvedic medicine is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that may be useful in treating erectile dysfunction (ED).
People with ED generally have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection for satisfactory sexual performance, and Ayurvedic doctors have been using plants to treat the condition for more than 3 millennia.
However, few clinical trials support the use of Ayurvedic treatments for ED.
Keep reading to learn more about the different Ayurvedic treatments for ED and whether they may be effective.
Ayurvedic medicine is a form of CAM that people sometimes call Ayurveda. It originated in India thousands of years ago and is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. In India, Ayurveda is still an essential part of the healthcare system.
Ayurvedic practitioners use diet, herbal medicines, exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, and physical therapy, among other methods. The goal of Ayurvedic treatments is to cleanse and restore balance to the mind, body, and spirit.
Practitioners have passed down the practice of Ayurvedic medicine verbally, but a few written documents are available today.
According to the Ayurvedic literature, a unique combination of space, air, fire, water, and earth makes up each person. These universal elements form the three energies:
- Vata dosha
- Pitta dosha
- Kapha dosha
When a person is unwell, their energies or doshas become unbalanced, and Ayurvedic practitioners will treat the condition by rebalancing the doshas.
ED has many causes, and different factors can contribute to a person’s ED symptoms. When doctors and traditional healers treat ED, they may use treatments that act on various causative factors of sexual dysfunction.
Ayurveda practitioners use Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, to manage psychogenic ED. People with psychogenic male erectile disorder have difficulty getting or maintaining an erectile because of:
- sexual anxiety
- fear of failure
- concerns about sexual performance
- decreased subjective sense of sexual excitement and pleasure
In a 2011 clinical study, 86 males took either Ashwagandha root powder or placebo for 60 days. The researchers chose to study Ashwagandha because practitioners use it in the management of other psychosomatic conditions.
The researchers found no significant difference between the effectiveness of Ashwagandha and that of the placebo.
The same research team conducted another study 3 years later to study the effects of Ashwagandha on other measures of ED. Once again, Ashwagandha did not improve sexual function any more than the placebo.
Practitioners believe that Vajikarana therapy revitalizes the elements of the body and restores balance and health. Followers of Ayurvedic medicine believe that these formulations improve the reproductive system and enhance sexual function by acting on the hypothalamus and limbic system of the brain.
Some people believe that Vajikarana therapy may also lower anxiety around sexual desire and performance and even increase some reproductive hormones. However, studies on the efficacy of these treatments are scarce and lack scientific accuracy.
Vajikarana therapy uses hundreds of different formulas, each of which has several different ingredients. Some Vajikarana preparations for ED include:
- vrihani gutika
- vrishya gutika
- vajikaranam ghritam
- upatyakari shashtikadi gutika
- medadi yog
- Chlorophytum borivilianum, Asparagus racemosus, and Curculigo orchioides
Researchers in India studied the effects of three Ayurvedic treatments for ED.
Compared with untreated control rats, rats that received extracts of Chlorophytum borivilianum, Asparagus racemosus, and Curculigo orchioides showed enhanced erections. They also demonstrated less hesitation in approaching female rats.
In another study on rats, researchers explored the effects of a Vajikarana formulation called Pedalium murex Linn. The rats received either this herbal extract, sildenafil (Viagra), or a placebo, and the researchers then analyzed their sexual behavior.
The rats receiving the herbal extract had improved sexual behavior and erection compared with the placebo group. Although these findings seem promising, further studies in rats and humans are necessary to confirm the efficacy of Pedalium murex Linn. on sexual performance.
Researchers have not yet confirmed the effectiveness of these herbs in treating ED in humans.
A group of researchers from Turkey conducted laboratory testing of Cinnamomum cassia (cinnamon) essential oil on samples of erectile tissue from humans and rats.
The study showed that cinnamon essential oil and its primary component, cinnamaldehyde, relaxed the erectile tissue of both humans and rats. If this effect occurred in a real-life scenario, it would likely result in an erection.
However, further studies in rats and humans are necessary before doctors can recommend the use of this spice.
People should note that it is essential never to swallow essential oils. Instead, a person can inhale the oil in aromatherapy or dilute it in a carrier oil and apply it to the skin.
Ayurvedic medicine also includes yoga practice. Practitioners believe that people who adopt a regular yoga practice may feel less stressed and have improved overall reproductive health. People can often improve their sex life by reducing their stress levels. In this way, yoga may help treat mild ED.
An article in the International Journal of Yoga reviewed the evidence on male reproductive health and the practice of yoga. According to the authors, Kundalini yoga can stimulate sexual energy.
They also note that other forms of yoga, such as moola bandha, use specific stretches and movements that increase blood flow to the pelvis. These forms of yoga may help those with ED.
Researchers have not yet confirmed the effects of yoga on ED in clinical studies, and there is a need for further research to understand the effects of this practice.
There have been studies that have disproved the action of some traditionally used herbs for ED. Researchers in India studied 30 Indian medicinal plants that Ayurveda or modern scientific literature has classified as aphrodisiacs. The study aimed to check whether these plants inhibited Rho-kinase 2.
Rho-kinase 2 is a chemical in the body that plays a role in forming an erection. Blocking Rho-kinase 2 allows erectile tissue to relax and blood to engorge the penis to create an erection.
Of the 30 selected plants, half caused different degrees of blockage of Rho-kinase 2. Terminalia chebula caused the most potent relaxation of isolated rat erectile tissue.
The researchers claim that the following plants may also inhibit Rho-kinase 2:
- Butea frondosa
- Syzygium aromaticum
- Butea superba
- Chlorophytum borivilianum
- Mucuna pruriens
Ayurvedic medicine has been around for millennia, but researchers are yet to prove its effectiveness in treating erectile dysfunction.
People experiencing ED should consult with a doctor before trying Ayurvedic treatments to ensure their safety.
Further clinical studies are necessary to confirm both the safety and effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatments for ED. The mechanism of action, dosage, and drug or food interactions of Ayurvedic treatments are largely unknown.