Every man wants to be the best he can be in every part of his life. And that includes bringing his a-game to the bedroom. Some guys are looking for a boost to give them souped-up staying power, a harder or longer cock or heightened sexual pleasure. Others are searching for a solution to Erectile Dysfunction (ED) or Premature Ejaculation (PE). Whatever their reason, a growing number of men are turning to natural or herbal over the counter pills for assistance during their most intimate moments. But is this actually the best course of action or are they setting themselves up for disappointment… or worse?
The herbal and natural supplements market is a potentially difficult place to navigate — with health and wellness products promising enhanced sexual performance on their list of benefits. There’s also a whole subset of pills that pretend to be natural but contain undisclosed or unregulated pharma ingredients. To help you out, we’ve taken a look at some of the most common natural and herbal ingredients to see if they live up to their hype.
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is derived from soy and wild yam. But don’t let that put you off. It’s is also a naturally occurring hormone that’s produced by our adrenal glands and converted into testosterone. Natural DHEA production declines in guys after the age of 30 — potentially impacting on testosterone levels and, therefore, possibly contributing to ED and a lower sex drive. Taking DHEA as a supplement to make up the shortfall would seem a logical way to reverse the situation — but does the science stack up?
Several studies have demonstrated that DHEA can indeed be successful in treating sexual dysfunction — including ED and a low sex drive — particularly when associated with testosterone deficiency. So this could make DHEA beneficial to men with age-related ED and a lower sex drive. But for every positive DHEA study there is also an inconclusive one. So, although promising, more research is needed at this stage. At present DHEA does, however, seem a viable option for some men, but some manufacturers could be over-promising and buyers should beware that it might not necessarily work for them.
DHEA is usually safe in small doses, but has been known to cause acne, nasal congestion and headaches. It does cause interactions with some medications — including insulin — so it's not suitable for diabetics. It’s also banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Olympic Committee, so don't use it if you're a professional athlete.
A 50mg once-daily dose of DHEA over a period of six months seems to be the average effective dose for most guys, but studies have used capsules dosed between 25mg and 200mg. This means it’s going to take a while before you know if this option is working for you — it won’t be immediate by any stretch of the imagination, so don’t believe any DHEA-related claims that tell you otherwise.
Our verdict: Worth further investigation… especially for older guys
Known to botanists as The Oldest Living Tree, it’s claimed that ginkgo biloba works like a much weaker version of Viagra by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide in your body. Sounds good on paper, but evidence for its success is very limited and most medical professionals think that more research is needed before they can throw their weight (and reputations) behind it.
If you do decide to take ginkgo biloba, it is generally sold as a pill in health food shops in single capsules can contain up to 6000mg. No standard or safe dose has been established at this time, but experts suggest starting at a low dose (120mg per day) and increasing gradually. This is wise as ginkgo biloba may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin.
Our verdict: Jury’s out on this one… put it back on the shelf, at least for now
Horny Goat Weed (Yin Yang Hou, Barrenwort and Epimedium)
Horny goat weed is the popular name for a heart-shaped herb called Epimedium. Its use in Chinese medicine as an aphrodisiac and libido-booster over many millennia has led modern-day manufacturers to make emboldened and often unsubstantiated claims about its effectiveness.
There is actually very little current scientific evidence to suggest that horny goat weed improves any kind of sexual function in isolation in its natural, herbal form. You might read all kinds of glowing reviews online, but we’d question their authenticity.
On balance, we think it’s a risky option. Horny goat weed has been know to cause stomach upsets and nose bleeds — but worse, it can disrupt your heartbeat or breathing and cause low blood pressure.
Our verdict: More myth than magic… pass on this one
Panax (Red) Ginseng
Panax ginseng (sometimes called red ginseng) has been used to enhance sexual performance for more than 5,000 years since its discovery in Ancient China (where they thought the root was the same shape as the male body).
Several contemporary medical studies suggest that panax ginseng is effective as an ED treatment because as it can stimulate the central nervous system and increase nitric oxide around the body. The barrier to full medical acceptance and acknowledgment as a male enhancement product at this stage seems to be that the tests to date have all conducted on small groups of men — and that a large-scale, rigorous investigation needs to be carried out. That being said, the outlook for panax ginseng seems good — it’s certainly the most promising of all the options we’ve reviewed. But it is still by no means an immediate and universal male enhancement solution.
The optimum dose panax ginseng is currently unknown, but studies using single doses ranging from 1800mg to 3000mg. Insomnia, upset stomachs, constipation and vertigo have been reported as side effects and, taken over a long period, it’s possible panax ginseng could interfere with blood pressure and blood thinning medication as well as insulin.
Ginseng is thought to boost the effects of caffeine so it’s best not to combine it with coffee. Also, don’t confuse the natural extract with Ginseng Power-X. It claims to be all-natural, but contains sildenafil in unregulated dosage amounts. The FDA has actually issued a product warning on this too.
Our verdict: Probably the most promising herbal option for ED… but still no guarantees
For almost a century, yohimbe — the bark from an African tree called the Pausinystalia Johimbe — has been used as a treatment for ED and PE. It’s also been ingested in its natural form for thousands of years by Africans as aphrodisiac. Like many other natural or herbal male enhancement treatments, it is believed to boost adrenaline supply and deliver enhanced, sustained sexual performance. Despite its long history of use, the drug has not yet been subjected to any rigorous human trials. It could be that the proponents of the drug are correct but it’s equally possible that those who deride and mock its ED-curing properties are right. At this point in time, nobody truly knows.
And we’re not sure if it’s worth taking a chance: Yohimbe is highly stimulatory. Potential side effects can include headaches, sweating, agitation, hypertension and insomnia as well as increased blood pressure and a fast or irregular heartbeat.
Our verdict: Walk away… you’d be ‘barking’ mad to use this one
‘Natural’ or ‘herbal’ Penis Pills
Penis pills that you can buy over the counter in liquor stores and gas stations claim to make your cock bigger and harder for longer. They usually contain a mixture of vitamins, minerals, herbs and even hormones — all of which the manufacturers refer to as ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ to lend credence to their products. But let’s cut to the chase: they do not work and are a giant con. Nothing natural will swell the size of your dick, keep it stiff all night and turn you into a Casanova within ten minutes of popping it.
Which leads us to our next point: some of these ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ penis pills are not as natural as they claim. Many of them, including the “Rhino” brand, have been consistently proven to contain hidden, undisclosed and potentially harmful active drug ingredients — including the same active components found in Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. Unfortunately, this means you’re playing Russian Roulette. Even if you take these pills knowing they contain active pharma-grade ingredients there’s no way of knowing exactly what dosage you’re taking in a single pill as they are not FDA-regulated.
You might get a low dose, in which case you’ll end up with a blocked nose. Not very conducive to a night of passion. But, more seriously, you could get an excessively high dose. Men in this situation have complained of chest pain, severe headaches and prolonged, painful erections — and some guys have even been hospitalized due to extreme drops in blood pressure. If you’re looking for a fast way of getting big and staying harder for longer then you’d be better off considering a penis pump on its own or in combination with a cock ring. Both of these will get you hard, boost the duration and the intensity of your erection and improve your staying power and sexual presence within minutes — indeed, some penis pumps can give you up to an extra three inches.
Our verdict: At best penis pills are useless, at worst they’re dangerous… don’t roll the dice with these unregulated nasties
Applying some common sense
If you stop and think about it you know deep down these herbal and products are not going to work — or at least, not as immediately or universally as some manufacturers claim. If they did, the big pharmaceutical companies would have licensed them by now and be selling them — just like they do with Viagra or Cialis. The fact that they are not should tell you something.
It is worth saying, however, that any natural supplement that boosts your nitric oxide levels will give you a mild hit and will increase your energy levels — and it will also get your blood flowing fast round your body for a short time. That’s why they make such effective pre-workout option at the gym. But whether those increased energy levels and an ever-so-slight high or giddy sensation translate into enhanced sexual prowess is another matter. The results are also very much dependent on an individual’s circumstances. If you suspect that your ED or lower sex drive has come about because you’re tired and lacking in energy a herbal boost or adrenalin rush could potentially help you. But then again, so could a Red Bull, a can of Pepsi or a double espresso.
If after all we’ve shared here, you still want to experiment with a natural or herbal male enhancement product remember that, although buying over the counter is much safer than buying online, you should still take great care — and although it can difficult to do, we recommend that you talk to your doctor before you pop any pills.
You should remember that the dietary and health supplement market — to which all these over the counter herbal and natural treatments belong — is not strictly regulated so choose wisely and safely. Do your research and buy from a reputable supplier. If you think a product may be tainted, stop taking it immediately and report it to the FDA.