Reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
How long does it take for L-citrulline to work for ED? We’re here to break it down for you.
With erectile dysfunction (ED) being an incredibly common health condition for many men (around 30 million are affected), the number of treatments available is vast. From oral medications to natural treatments for ED, it can be difficult to know which is best.
One alternative treatment for erectile dysfunction you may have heard of is L-citrulline supplements. An amino acid produced by the body, L-citrulline is converted to L-arginine, another type of amino acid. Some people take L-citrulline supplements to produce L-arginine, which improves blood flow by creating nitric oxide, a gas that helps widen blood vessels.
Some people may use L-citrulline supplementation or L-citrulline malate (one of the forms of citrulline, a combination of L-citrulline with malic acid) for exercise performance to improve muscle strength or reduce muscle soreness after a tough workout.
Others may use L-citrulline for ED.
But are there L-citrulline benefits for ED? And if so, how long does it take for L-citrulline to work for ED?
What does L-citrulline do, exactly, and is supplemental citrulline an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction?
As we mentioned above, L-citrulline converts to L-arginine, which increases nitric oxide production to widen blood vessels. Healthy blood flow is an important part of how erections work, so in theory, L-citrulline could help reduce ED.
To understand how L-citrulline might help reduce ED, let’s get into the process of erections. When you feel sexually aroused, your nervous system sends a signal to the tissue inside your penis, referred to as the corpora cavernosa.
The blood vessels that supply blood to your penis dilate, increasing blood flow and creating an erection.
One molecule involved in this process is nitric oxide, which plays a key role in relaxing the smooth muscle tissue that controls blood flow to the erectile tissue inside your penis.
L-citrulline converts to L-arginine, which helps nitric oxide production. However, arginine supplementation (or even nitric oxide supplements) may not be the most efficient way to produce nitric oxide — which is why people may use L-citrulline supplements to increase arginine levels and produce a normal erection.
You may see L-arginine marketed as a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction, but there isn’t much evidence to support this claim.
Similarly, the current research on L-citrulline for ED is also very limited.
One small study of 24 men with moderate or mild erectile dysfunction found that oral citrulline supplementation was an effective treatment in improving erection hardness scores and overall sexual satisfaction.
Another small study of 13 men also found that oral L-citrulline supplementation was effective in treating ED. This treatment, however, was a combination of citrulline supplementation with a polyphenol known as resveratrol and a PDE5 inhibitor, the first line of treatment for most men with ED.
Though research on the effectiveness of L-citrulline for ED is limited, this dietary supplement is believed to be safe. Still, there haven’t been any large randomized clinical trials to assess the safety of L-citrulline for ED treatment.
There are proven treatments for ED (which we’ll cover below), but some men may prefer to try L-citrulline when usual ED medications don’t work for them or if they experience too many side effects.
But how long does it take for L-citrulline to work for ED? Keep reading to find out.
Since there hasn’t been a large study to assess the effects of L-citrulline on ED, the answer to “How long does it take for L-citrulline to work for ED?” isn’t clear.
The duration of treatment for both studies we mentioned above was two months, with patients taking a placebo (an inactive drug) for one month, followed by another month of oral citrulline supplementation.
More research would be needed to fully understand not only how long L-citrulline takes to work for erectile dysfunction but also whether oral citrulline supplementation is effective.
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The exact L-citrulline dosage for ED is also unclear, once again due to the limited amount of studies.
In the first study on oral L-citrulline supplementation we mentioned, patients received a dosage of 1.5 grams of citrulline each day for a month. Meanwhile, the second study saw patients receive 800 milligrams of L-citrulline along with 300 milligrams of transresveratrol each day.
One source recommends an L-citrulline dosage of 2,000 milligrams three times a day or 1.76 grams of citrulline malate for every 1 gram of citrulline you might take for circulatory health. However, there isn’t much research to support this dosage.
Citrulline has been used as an oral supplement for many years without reports of serious safety concerns.
A review of citrulline malate supplements found only a couple of mild L-citrulline side effects were experienced:
If you want to take oral L-citrulline supplements for ED, consult with a healthcare provider first.
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual satisfaction, and it affects many men. Fortunately, there are several treatment options — even natural remedies like L-citrulline.
An amino acid produced by the body, L-citrulline may help create more nitric oxide, which, in turn, helps promote healthy blood flow. Increased blood flow is one part of the process of getting an erection. So many people may turn to L-citrulline supplements to increase blood flow and reduce ED.
The research on L-citrulline for ED is light, though. And while this supplement doesn’t appear to have adverse effects, there are many other proven treatments for erectile dysfunction to consider.
The most common PDE5 inhibitors are sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra) and avanafil (Stendra®). They’re available as either oral medication or chewable mints.
While a natural treatment like L-citrulline may sound more appealing, these medications have plenty of research to support their effectiveness. If you’re concerned about possible side effects of medications or drug interactions, talk to your healthcare provider to answer any questions.
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