Natural Viagra: How it Works and the Best Types to Buy

·8-min read
Photo credit: Peter Dazeley - Getty Images
Photo credit: Peter Dazeley - Getty Images

Struggling to maintain an erection? Don’t panic. It’s perfectly normal to experience fluctuations in the stiffy department every now and then. However, if your staying power is starting to interfere with your sex life on the regular, it's worth getting checked out.

Recent stats show that as many as one in five men experience some form of erectile dysfunction at one time or another. The good news is it’s perfectly common, you are not alone, and there are plenty of things you can do to fix it before you quit the dating scene to join a monastery.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Before we get started, it’s worth getting to grips with what’s really going on down there. ‘Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the difficulty of getting or maintaining an erection for long enough to have penetrative sex,’ says Dr Mafe Peraza Godoy, Co-Founder and Head of Sexual Medicine at Healthy Pleasure Group. ‘It can happen from a variety of biological, medical and psychological reasons.’

But an occasional rebellious penis is usually nothing to worry about, and isolated incidents are not classed as erectile dysfunction. ‘It is only labelled ED when it has occurred for at least three months and happens at least half of the time a man tries to get an erection,’ explains Dr Mafe.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?

According to Dr Mafe, there are many common reasons for erectile dysfunction, 'from alterations of the blood flow due to heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight or habits such as alcohol use,' she says. 'In the end anything that carries a risk factor that compromises the functionality of the blood vessels can be a cause of ED.'

It can also have a psychological origin, so Dr Mafe advises that any long-term usage to treat ED should be accompanied by psychological and emotional support. ‘Erectile dysfunction rarely comes without an anxiety or stress-related component that either causes or accompanies it,’ she says. ‘There is no case of ED that is purely biological, there is always a reactive psycho-emotional component that can either cause or maintain the dysfunction over time.’

What is Natural Viagra?

Natural Viagra is the term used to describe any naturally derived product that claims to treat male sexual function problems. (You can also buy the real thing in the form of Viagra Connect from your local pharmacy).

Anecdotally certain herbal supplements have shown to be successful for some men, but it pays to do your research before you start popping pills willy-nilly. If you occasionally struggle to maintain a hard-on then a supplement might do the trick. But if you experience persistent erection struggles, then your first port of call should be your GP.

‘The supplements to treat erectile dysfunction do not appear in any medical guidelines,’ warns Dr Mafe. ‘However, there are some studies that show certain botanical products and other amino acid-type supplements are approved to treat ED. It’s also undeniable that the placebo effect explains much of the success of these supplements. But you should always take precautions and seek specialist supervision.’

Photo credit: Grace Cary
Photo credit: Grace Cary

9 Natural Viagra Alternatives To Try

So now you know the official line, if you’re still keen to try the supplement route, there are some Viagra alternatives that might serve to improve and strengthen your erections. But as mentioned above, if you have serious concerns then you should seek medical advice before you proceed.

1. L-Arginine

The Science: This works with the same principles as Viagra. This amino acid increases the body’s production of nitric acid, which is proven to help maintain erections, according to the journal Neurology. 'It relaxes and widens blood vessels,' says Jayney Goddard, president of the Complimentary Medicine Association, 'which means your penis gets a better, more consistent supply of blood.' Giving you a better, more consistent supply of sex.

The Application: 500mg daily
The MH Rating: "Nuclear strength – don’t expect much shut-eye with this one."
Total: 8/10

2. Horny Goat Weed

The Science: The Ronseal of sexual supplements, this does exactly what it says on the tin. 'According to Chinese folklore this was discovered by a goatherd who noticed his flock became sexually aroused after eating it,' says Goddard. Research carried out by University of Michigan neurologists found that it contains a compound called lacariin, which stimulates nerves and boosts testosterone levels. Just steer clear of livestock afterwards.

The Application: Take 200mg 90 minutes before any ‘herding’.
The MH Rating: "Makes you feel tingly and pleasantly focused on the task in hand."
Total: 7/10

3. Maca

The Science: Swap ‘Colombian marching powder’ for some of this ‘Peruvian Viagra’ for real endurance. According to the journal Urology, the root extract contains macamides and macaenes – unique photochemicals, which restore hormone levels and boost energy in both sexes. 'For men, it’s one of the most potent aphrodisiacs available – it not only helps maintain erections but also increases seminal volume, sperm count and sperm motility,' says Sarah Dobbyn, author of The Fertility Diet. So you could well be seeing the fruits of your labour soon, too.

The Application: 500mg twice daily
The MH Rating: “A smoother hit that keeps the main sail raised for hours.”
Total: 7/10

4. Cordyceps

The Science: A double whammy: this mushroom extract boosts testosterone and blood flow, giving it instant sex appeal. Its secret? The aptly-named sugar ‘fucose’ (also found in human breast milk). 'It’s a natural sugar which plays an anti-ageing role in the body, facilitating cell communication and increasing blood flow to the sexual organs,' says Dr John Briffa of University College London’s Medical School. A word of warning from Dobbyn: 'I’ve had complaints from single men taking this, saying they couldn’t sleep for feeling so aroused.' Not one to be taken before speed-dating, then.

Application: 650mg daily
The MH Rating: “Produces a jittery, rather anxious sensation – along with the requisite boost.”
Total: 5/10

5. L-Tyrosine

The Science: 'This powerful amino-acid causes a dramatic spike in levels of the pleasure-enhancing chemical dopamine, with a knock-on aphrodisiac effect that promotes erections,' says Dobbyn. Careful though: it also raises your metabolism and blood pressure. Speak to your GP before taking it, or you might go red in the face for all the wrong reasons.

Application: 400mg daily
The MH Rating: “Definitely produces more energy, but no noticeable change in lasting power.”
Total: 3/10

6. Korean Red Ginseng

The Science: This purest form of the Asian root increases strength and energy by boosting the nervous system, according to Goddard. In 2002, the BMJ reported clinical trials in which 45 men benefitted from ‘more successful erections, more sexual desire and lower stress levels’. So even if you don’t get your oats, you’ll be pretty chilled out about it.

Application: 0.5-2g daily. “Best results are seen with a two-week-on, two-week-off cycle,” says Goddard.
The MH Rating: “Less animal than intimate; top notch sleep after main event.”
Total: 5/10

7. Rhodiola rosea

The Science: Rhodiola rosea is a medicinal plant known as an 'adaptogen' – a herbal pharmaceutical that helps to regulate the stress response. It is said to act on the dopamine system in the brain, which kick-starts those essential sexy vibes. Studies have shown that Rhodiola rosea also reduces stress and fatigue, two of the biggest obstacles when it comes to erection strength.

Application: 2 tablets daily with a meal.
The MH Rating: “I didn't get an instant boner, but after a few weeks I definitely started to feel more relaxed, which is half the battle...”
Total: 5/10

8. Saffron

The Science: A spice found hiding in most kitchen cupboards, saffron has potential aphrodisiac properties that could benefit people on antidepressants. A study by Tehran University of Medical Sciences found, when men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction took 30mg of saffron daily for four weeks, their symptoms significantly improved.

Application: 88.5mg twice daily.
The MH Rating: “It tastes nice with roast lamb!”
Total: 4/10

9. Fenugreek

The Science: The go-to supplement for nursing mothers hoping to increase milk supply, some men take Fenugreek to boost testosterone too. While the herb has numerous anecdotal health benefits, scientific research regarding sexual function is limited, so proceed with caution. But according to one small study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, taking 600mg of fenugreek extract daily can boost sexual function in men, so it might be worth a shot!

Application: One capsule daily.
The MH Rating: “I developed the strength of a raging bull after just four weeks and impregnated every woman in town.”
Total: 3/10

Other Natural Alternatives to Viagra

If herbal supplements don't do it for you, there are other options available.

Cock Rings

If your erection is flying at half mast, wearing a cock ring can help make it feel firmer. They work by applying pressure to the base of your penis to reduce blood flow and worn out porn stars swear by them.

Penis Pumps

Sexual wellness experts Lovehoney recently launched a new Health collection, and the brand's penis pumps have been selling like hotcakes. A pump works by forcing blood to flow into your phallus, resulting in a length and girth increase that enables the user to enjoy penetrative sex. All the products from the range are made from soft, body-safe silicone and promise a thicker and longer erection in minutes.

Erection Cream

Erection cream contains natural extracts that are designed to boost your oxygen levels and power up your penis in the process. Simply rub a pea-sized dollop along the length of your shaft for an extra-strong erection. Enjoy!

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