Many of us have heard countless advertisements where dietary supplement companies are promoting natural solutions for impotence, poor libido or erectile dysfunction (ED).  But, do these supplements actually work?  Is there such a thing as a natural cure for erectile dysfunction, or a so called natural Viagra?

In 2012, researchers Gianfrilli D, Lauretta R, Di Dato C, et al concluded their study in the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy.  They wanted to find out if nutraceutical products – natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs – could help men with erectile dysfunction (ED).

According to the researchers, “the application of nutraceuticals in the field of male sexual function – in particular for erectile dysfunction (ED) – remains relatively underexplored.” This seems to be so despite the fact that there are dozens of natural products on the market making sometimes outlandish claims.

Researchers provided 54 men (35-75 years) with a three-month supplementation with amino acids Propionyl-L-Carnitine and L-Arginine, as well as Niacin and monitored their progress. All test subjects had to fill out a IIEF – international index of erectile function – questionnaire, go through global assessment questions and participate in laboratory tests before the test and after three months.

Did Amino Acids Help with Erectile Dysfunction?

The results were promising.  After three months of treatment, a small, but statistically significant improvement in total and single items of IIEF was found.

The nutraceutical, primarily amino acid based erectile dysfunction treatment, improved erections in 40% cases, but occasionally occurred in up to 77% of test subjects.  The study confirms that the positive cardiovascular effects of these nutraceutical products can also reflect on male sexual function.  Furthermore, these supplements can potentially be used in the treatment and prevention of erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction affects millions of Americans every year.  Pfizer’s Viagra is the leading product in the sexual dysfunction industry with a 45% market share in 2012, just ahead of Cialis.  More than 8 million Viagra prescriptions were written in 2012 with total sales of about $2 billion. The total market is close to $5 billion annually.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21966881

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/27/health/viagra-anniversary-timeline/index.html