Should I Take Ashwagandha For Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, is a shrub in Asia and parts of Africa. It’s been used widely in India, giving it the name “Indian winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng.” The plant’s root can be ground into a powder and used medicinally. 

Medically, ashwagandha¹ is known as an adaptogen. It helps fight stress. Researchers have begun looking into other ways that ashwagandha may be used medicinally. 

Evidence² has found that this plant effectively reduces anxiety while having anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and memory-enhancing properties.

Although research³ is ongoing, ashwagandha’s use in healthy volunteers is found to be safe, with no toxic effects reported.

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Ashwagandha and erectile dysfunction

It was initially thought that using ashwagandha may help treat erectile dysfunction, likely due to its known effects on testosterone levels. 

However, using ashwagandha root powder in men with certain types of erectile dysfunction found no significant benefits. 

Benefits of ashwagandha for men’s sexual health

Ashwagandha and stress 

Ashwagandha has been shown to have positive effects on stress. Studies⁴ have found that taking ashwagandha significantly lowers stress scores and cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone. 

Elevated cortisol can decrease the action of luteinizing hormone, a hormone that stimulates the release of testosterone. This may explain why increasing stress hormone levels may result in a drop in testosterone and a lower libido, or sex drive.

Ashwagandha and testosterone 

Studies have also found that using ashwagandha in overweight men increased testosterone levels compared to the placebo group. 

This may be useful in men who have decreased testosterone levels due to the impacts of elevated stress cortisol levels. Increased testosterone has also been shown to increase sex drive in men. Ashwagandha may therefore help increase testosterone levels in men, resulting in higher libido.

Low testosterone levels⁵ have been associated with erectile dysfunction. Therefore, keeping testosterone levels at healthy levels may aid in ensuring that these do not drop low enough to cause erectile dysfunction. 

Ashwagandha and infertility 

Using ashwagandha may help manage male infertility, which can be caused by increased oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by a build-up of molecules called reactive oxygen species. 

High levels of reactive oxygen species can damage sperm, resulting in infertility. 

Studies have found that ashwagandha can decrease the levels of these reactive oxygen species, thereby helping restore fertility. The plant’s antioxidant properties may act by inhibiting lipid peroxidation,⁶ which has been linked to male infertility.

Other studies⁷ found that treatment with ashwagandha decreased stress and increased semen quality in many male participants. These men were found to have an increase in sperm count and sperm motility. 

Remarkably, this study resulted in 14% of the partners of the men receiving treatment becoming pregnant. 

Other studies⁸ have found that treatment with ashwagandha increased semen volume. These positive effects have been seen in men drinking 5 grams of root extract daily with milk.

Ashwagandha and diabetes 

Some studies⁹ have found that ashwagandha may help treat diabetes as the leaf extract possesses anti-diabetic properties. This is important as men with diabetes often experience erectile dysfunction. 

Studies¹⁰ have found that men with diabetes experience much greater rates of erectile dysfunction and lower sexual satisfaction than men without diabetes. Therefore, ashwagandha may act as a protective agent against the development of diabetes, along with the poor sexual outcomes that may result from it. 

Ashwagandha and the immune system

Some studies have found that immune function was increased in people who took ashwagandha. The studies¹¹ found that certain immune cells were increased in people who took ashwagandha root extract for a month. 

This may aid the immune system in fighting off certain infections that may result in sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. 

When to see a doctor 

Anyone taking herbal or other medications should inform their doctor to ensure that it doesn’t impact any other medicines the doctor may prescribe. 

Although ashwagandha has been deemed safe in early studies, monitoring it for side effects is essential. Discussing the potential side effects with a medical professional can be helpful.

Although no benefit has been established for using ashwagandha to treat erectile dysfunction directly, that does not mean options for treating erectile dysfunction are scarce. 

Currently, several erectile dysfunction medications are available on the market. These can readily be prescribed by a doctor and are used by many men to achieve optimal sexual function.

The lowdown

Ashwagandha is an herbal remedy that has been used for numerous conditions. Although evidence has shown it to be ineffective in treating erectile dysfunction directly, it’s been shown to have other beneficial uses in men’s sexual health. 

For example, taking ashwagandha root extract may help prevent developing diseases resulting in erectile dysfunction. 

Other effects that can return men’s sex drive to normal levels have been found, such as reducing stress. 

Along with this, ashwagandha has been shown to increase testosterone, which increases sex drive and helps prevent the development of erectile dysfunction. Other studies show promising effects of taking the herb to aid in male fertility. 

Overall, ashwagandha shows potential for increasing men’s overall sexual health. These benefits, along with ashwagandha’s potential risks, should be discussed with a doctor.

  1. An overview on ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda (2011)

  2. Adaptogenic and anxiolytic effects of ashwagandha root extract in healthy adults: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study (2019)

  3. Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers (2012)

  4. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebocontrolled study of safety and efficacy of a high concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults (2012)

  5. Relationship between testosterone and erectile dysfunction (2000)

  6. Role of withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) in the management of male infertility (2017)

  7. Withania somnifera improves semen quality in stress-related male fertility (2011)

  8. Clinical evaluation of the spermatogenic activity of the root extract of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in oligospermic males: A pilot study (2013)

  9. Hypoglycaemic and hypolipidaemic effects of withania somnifera root and leaf extracts on alloxan-induced diabetic rats (2009)

  10. Do impotent men with diabetes have more severe erectile dysfunction and worse quality of life than the general population of impotent patients? Results from the exploratory comprehensive evaluation of erectile dysfunction (ExCEED) database (2003)

  11. Immunomodulatory effect of withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) extract—A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial with an open label extension on healthy participants (2021)

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