Dietary supplements and other alternative medicines for erectile dysfunction. What do I tell my patients?

Urol Clin North Am. 2002 Feb;29(1):11-22, vii. doi: 10.1016/s0094-0143(02)00012-5.


Dietary supplements and other alternative medicines have enjoyed a tremendous amount of popularity and use over the past decade. Although, the prevalence of these therapies for erectile dysfunction (ED) is unknown at this time, numerous media outlets and alternative medicine publications seem to support the utilization of these therapies for ED. The placebo effect is approximately 25% (1 out of 4 benefit) from past randomized trials of FDA approved medications for ED. Adequate clinical trials are needed for dietary supplements for ED to access whether or not a benefit beyond a placebo effect exists. Clinicians should become aware of these supplements and the current research espousing or discouraging their use, and they should understand the adverse effects associated with them in order to effectively discuss these products with any patient inquiring about them.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Androstenedione / therapeutic use
  • Arginine / therapeutic use
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Ginkgo biloba*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Placebo Effect
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Yohimbine / therapeutic use
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Plant Preparations
  • Yohimbine
  • Androstenedione
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Arginine
  • Zinc