Erectile Dysfunction? Jokes aside, no man would ever like to admit to that. But did you know that every man over 60 has a 50%+ chance to be let down by his manhood more often than he wants to? Generally, men tend to be affected from their mid 30s onwards.
When researching natural treatment options for erectile function one quickly finds clinical studies and personal experience reports that indicate that the amino acid L-arginine can help.
But its effect very much depends on how it is consumed, its dosage and how it is combined with other nutrients.
In this article we present the best clinical studies and the resulting recommendations for consumption.
“Erectile Dysfunction” is the scientific term used for the delicate issue of erection problems.
Causes can be divided into four broad areas:
- General circulation (cardiovascular) and fine blood vessel disorders (approximately 60%)
- Psychologically induced Erectile Dysfunction (approximately 15%),
- Neurological problems with the intestines (approximately 15%),
- Other causes, possibly unknown (approximately 10%).
The chances for successful treatment are low if the nerves are not capable of transmitting stimuli, or if there are other dominant health problems, such as a venous leak.
The good news is the vast majority of affected men can be cured. According to multiple clinical studies, a man’s potency can be greatly enhanced by amino acids in cases of “vascular” erectile problems caused by general circulatory disorders.
Taking 3,000 mg (3 grams) of L-arginine or less on a daily basis could only improve the sexual satisfaction of relatively few men according to the results of two studies (see below).
Another study with 5,000 mg L-arginine per day has yielded relatively decent results. However, the study could not exclude that the improvement could have been caused by other factors.
Thus, L-arginine alone does not appear to be the complete key to improved circulation and thus erectile function.
L-Arginine and pine bark extract (this extract contains so-called procyanidines, also known as OPC) have led to a significant improvement in erectile dysfunction in over 90% of participants in a study from 2008. Further studies have confirmed these results.
The intake of pine bark extract does not pose any health risks and has consistently shown no side effects in over 300 studies. Pine Bark Extract can therefore be recommended as a treatment for Erectile Dysfunction.
L-Arginine treats Erectile Dysfunction
Arginine is the amino acid, which indirectly controls our blood vessels. It allows the body to build Nitric Oxide (NO), the neurotransmitter, which signals arteries to extend.
In this way the body controls blood circulation and blood pressure.
Three American researchers received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1998 for the findings on the importance of NO in controlling vascular pressure. This has led to further intensive research.
The molecule NO controls vascular resistance through the circulatory system. It can only be produced by the body from L-arginine. If arginine is absent, NO is also absent and blood vessels will not be able to relax and enable blood flow sufficiently.
The researchers’ idea was therefore: providing more L-arginine to the body will allow vessels to expand more quickly and sustainably. By extension, L-arginine will therefore help the body to produce and hold an erection.
This thesis has been investigated in several clinical studies with clear results:
L-arginine by itself
When L-arginine is consumed by itself, a minimum of 3,000 mg must be taken on a continuous daily basis for the dose to be effective 1. Its effect, however, is more pronounced when 5,000 mg is consumed daily 2.
In another study a daily dosis of 8,000 mg of L-arginine aspartate in combination with adenosine monophosphate (AMP) was successfully tested3.
The L-arginine-AMP combination was taken one to two hours before sexual intercourse. It was concluded that this is recommendable timing as the availability of the compound in the body peaks when intercourse occurs.
Results from the clinical studies were improved considerably when further nutrients were added to further support the process of vasodilation (vascular expansion).
L-Arginine combined with pine bark extract
The combination of pine bark extract and L-arginine produced much better results than L-arginine alone. This was demonstrated by three different studies.
Two studies from 2003 4 and 2008 confirmed previous findings: that the proanthocyanidins (OPCs) in the French pine bark extract support the metabolic processes inside the blood vessel’s cell wall. The extract therefore enables the effect of L-arginine to fully develop in the arteries 5.
92% success rate: sexual satisfaction and erectile function improved significantly in an amazing 92% of the participating male subjects, who took 3,000 mg of L-arginine and 80 mg of pine bark extract daily. In the placebo group hardly anything happened.
A study by Japanese scientists also confirmed a potential effect of the combination of pine bark extract and L-arginine in 2011. The results were not quite as convincing, but the dosage was only about half as strong 6.
L-arginine plus folic acid, B6 and B12
An extensive German study investigated the effect of 3,000 mg L-arginine in combination with the three B-vitamins folic acid (B9), vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 7. The subjects suffered from hypertension, arteriosclerosis and to a large extent erectile dysfunction.
The study showed that over half (55%) of participants, who complemented their diet with L-arginine and the three B-vitamins B6, folic acid and B12 reported a noticeable improvement in overall daily performance.
40% reported increased sexual potency. Harmful homocysteine blood serum levels decreased by 28% on average.
Reducing homocysteine levels
A major cause of calcified vessels are deposits, which are further promoted by a high homocysteine level 8. Homocysteine is a normal end-product of metabolic processes produced by the body. It has toxic properties at cellular level and must be broken down by the body on an ongoing basis.
High homocysteine levels are as harmful to the blood vessels (and thus the blood flow inside the fine vessels inside the penis) as a high cholesterol level. There are also indications that elevated homocysteine and low folic acid levels are associated with the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The three B vitamins B6, B9 and B12 are essential for the metabolisation (break-down) of homocysteine. However, over 80% of the population lacks sufficient vitamin B9 (folic acid) levels.
With regards to vitamin B6 and B12, 10 – 20% of the population do not even reach the minimum recommended intake levels. Indeed, increased homocysteine levels are widespread due to vitamin deficiencies and unhealthy dietary habits (too many processed foods, such as cheap sausages, burgers, and fat). Click here for more details on homocysteine levels.
Further measures to improve potency
Eliminate zinc deficiency
A low testosterone level can be one possible reason for an observably low libido. Zinc is essential for the body to produce testosterone.
An increased intake of zinc can eliminate a possible deficiency and thus promote the formation of testosterone. Improved attention, alertness, general drive and even improved libido can result from a normalised testosterone level.
Slimming and exercise
Being overweight and doing too little exercise further promotes weak blood circulation and slows down the metabolism. If you are overweight, you should change your diet and consume more vegetables and fruits and less white carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods.
Regular exercise is an important building block for controlling weight and both keeping blood vessels and joints in motion. Walk more often, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Budget a little more time so you can walk, enjoy the fresh air and avoid taking the bus or the car. Or take your bike more often instead of your car for distances between two and five kilometers. This is not good just for your weight, your blood circulation and blood pressure, but it also saves money!
Finally alcohol, smoking and cheap, processed fatty foods do much damage to blood vessels and nerves and are also generally related to erectile dysfunction.
- Zorgniotti AW, Lizza EF. Effect of large doses of the nitric oxide precursor, L-arginine, on erectile dysfunction. International Journal of Impotence Research. 1994. 6(1):33-35 ↩
- Chen I, Wollman Y, Chernichovsky T, Iaina A, Sofer M, Matzkin H. Effect of oral administration of high-dose nitric oxide donor L-arginine in men with organic erectile dysfunction: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. BJU International. 1999. 83(3):269-273 ↩
- Neuzillet Y, Hupertan V, Cour F, Botto H, Lebret T. A randomized, double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled comparative clinical trial of arginine aspartate plus adenosine monophosphate for the intermittent treatment of male erectile dysfunction. Andrology. 2013. 1(2):223-228 ↩
- Stanislavov R, Nikolova V. Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol and L-arginine. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. 2003. 29(3):207-213 ↩
- Stanislavov R, Nikolova V, Rohdewald P. Improvement of erectile function with Prelox: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. International Journal of Impotence Research. 2008. 20:173-180 ↩
- Aoki H, Nagao J, Ueda T, Strong JM, Schonlau F, Yu-Jing S, Lu Y, Horie S. Clinical assessment of a supplement of Pycnogenol and L-Arginine in Japanese patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Phytotherapy Research. 2012. 26(2): 204-7 ↩
- Jung K, Petrowicz O. L-arginine and folic acid in atherosclerosis. Results of a prospective, multi-center dietetic treatment study. Perfusion. 2008. 21(5):148-156 ↩
- Wald DS, Law M, Morris J. The dose-response relation between serum homocysteine and cardiovascular disease: implications for treatment and screening. European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation. 2004. 11(3):250-253 ↩