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Warning: Rise in men taking potentially harmful alternative medicines ‘in the bedroom’

Fact Checked

Last Updated: 09/21/2021

Epimedium, Panax ginseng, Lepidium meyenii, Yohimbine, White’s ginger - all potentially harmful alternative medicines that men are taking to cure their erectile dysfunction (ED). If you’re not familiar with these alternative medicines you may want to read on, but if you are, then you will definitely want to read on!

We recently conducted a survey to discover how people are trying to treat their ED. One in five respondents (22%) admitted to trying unsuccessful natural home remedies to treat the condition, with more than a third of these injuring themselves or falling sick while or after doing so. 

Worryingly, 26% of participants agreed that they would try other alternative medicines if they thought it may help treat their ED. 

In a bid to educate and protect our users we decided to compile a list of the most harmful alternative remedies that are rumoured to help ED. The list includes a variety of supplements, powders and plants, including Epimedium - also known as Horny Goat Weed. 

Whilst there is some evidence to suggest that Epimedium can be used to treat ED, as well as to support the immune system and promote strong bones, studies are very limited. There are however a variety of side effects that users of Epimedium should be cautious of, including mood changes, nausea, hot flushes, decreased thyroid function and even difficulty breathing.*

The ten alternative medicines and at-home remedies revealed to be potentially harmful are**: 

  • Epimedium/Horny Goat Weed

  • Panax ginseng 

  • Lepidium meyenii/Maca

  • Yohimbine 

  • Mondia white/White’s ginger

  • Ginkgo biloba

  • Chlorophytum borivilianum/Musli powder

  • Crocus sativus/Saffron

  • Tribulus terrestris

  • L-arginine

Panax ginseng is another commonly used alternative medicine, said to be beneficial for stamina, concentration and stress, as well as ED. While the most common effect of this medicine is insomnia, it is also reported that Panax ginseng can cause increased heart rate, headaches and dizziness***. 

In fact, many of the alternatives included in the list result in a lot of the same side effects, including high blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, irritability, constipation and diarrhea. 

Furthermore, mixing alternative medicines with prescribed and over-the-counter drugs can be very dangerous. For example, people who already take medications that slow blood clotting, such as anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs, should not take Epimedium/Horny Goat Weed, as this too has slow blood clotting side effects, so can increase the chances of haemorrhage.

Likewise, it can be extremely dangerous to use Epimedium/Horny Goat Weed alongside Nitroglycerin, a drug that helps treat angina or heart failure.

Studies suggest that erectile dysfunction affects around one third of men, with a 2019 report revealing that the global prevalence of the condition is up to 76%. It is estimated that by 2025, approximately 322 million men across the world will be affected by ED, while another study found that, despite the common idea that ED only affects older men, about 26% of men under 40 have experienced the condition****.

If you take any of these supplements or not, it is worth keeping an eye out for them in other medicines and foods that you consume to ensure you aren’t doing yourself any damage!

At The Phoenix, we always recommend that you seek professional medical help or advice, before taking any alternative medicines.

*https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317023 **https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/herbs ***https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1000/panax-ginseng ****https://www.healthline.com/health/how-common-is-ed#prevalence