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7 Essential Oils for Erectile Dysfunction: What Works?

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 07/15/2021

Updated 01/20/2024

If you’re like many guys out there, you’re a bit iffy on the idea of essential oils. Maybe you have an aunt whose aromatherapy diffuser gives you headaches or an ex whose coconut oil, jasmine and sandalwood babble had you constantly confused about whether you were listening to medical advice or the new Baskin Robbins flavors of the season. 

The point is that you might be a skeptic about the idea that a few drops of essential oil could be an alternative to traditional medicine, especially for something like erectile dysfunction (ED). Can trendy wellness products actually help? 

Truth be told, we have our doubts too — and so does the medical community. 

Below, we’ve outlined the current research on essential oils for ED, put the limited studies looking into their benefits into context and shared a few more effective tools for dealing with sexual health problems — ones that have more than a group of horned-up male rats to demonstrate what they can do for you.

But don’t skip down to the proven treatments just yet — the data on essential oils for ED is worth the read.

Before we dive into this research, a word for you: caution.

At best, research may imply that you can use essential oils for general wellness. For example, several are purported to have antioxidant properties, which reduce oxidative stress in the tissues of our body and may be protective against inflammation. Rarely are the findings so specific as to suggest that something like clary sage can fix your lower back pain or cure multiple sclerosis.

Part of the reason why is a lack of data. Right now, there isn’t much (read: any) high-quality research on the role of essential oils for erectile dysfunction treatment in humans.

You can find a hundred online lists of the “best essential oils for erectile dysfunction” but those essential oils are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the health benefit claims might be misleading.  

Of the few studies that are available, most are tiny in size and feature animals rather than humans. We’re clearing all of this up ahead of time, because if you’re curious about the benefits of any of the popular essential oil ingredients below, you’ll need to consume them with a grain of salt.

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Cinnamon 

We’d probably say that aside from the cinnamon challenge, there’s not much noteworthy info from the last few decades to share about cinnamon extract. The exceptions would be two studies, including a 2015 study that looked at the administration of daily cinnamon to male rats. After four weeks, the mice showed increased sperm count and had increased sperm motility and viability to boot. 

Two years earlier, another study of male rats (this time older ones) suggested that after four weeks, daily cinnamon offered effective management of their age-based sexual dysfunction.

Cloves 

Cloves haven’t exactly rocketed to the top of the ED treatment oil pyramid, but one study from 2004 did find that an ethanolic extract of the clove flower can have a “significant and sustained” increase on the sexual activity of normal male rats. The authors tentatively called it a point for the traditional view of cloves as an aphrodisiac, though human studies would be a much bigger point.

Ylang Ylang 

Ylang ylang essential oil doesn’t affect your hormones or make your penis grow, but it’s used in some cultures and countries to create feelings of confidence and euphoria, particularly when it comes to reducing sexual anxiety. Some evidence suggests it has a potential role in managing high blood pressure, though more research is needed to confirm any of this or set safe dosing standards.

Rose

Rosa damascena, better known as damask rose, has been found to improve psychological ED in some humans. In one study, the oil helped a small group of men with major depressive disorder and ED due to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) gain better erectile function, though we’ve yet to find evidence of it being effectively reproduced. In other words, it looks great on paper, but can they do it twice?

Ginger

As essential oil ingredients go, ginger might have the widest base of support. Some research has suggested that it can improve testosterone production and may have antioxidant benefits. Other studies — once again limited to rats — have suggested that it can improve sperm quality.

Ginger has also been used in combination with a few other compounds to effectively manage certain types of erectile dysfunction in rats. 

The bottom line? For now, this data is promising, but weak, and more research is needed.

Lavender

There’s not any significant information about lavender oil for ED in the world of medicine, but we would point you to the very thin connection between lavender and mental health. Lavender is sometimes mentioned as a natural remedy for anxiety, which could include performance anxiety and other psychological issues that may cause sexual dysfunction. However, no studies exist testing the theory — yet. 

Basil

Basil may be delicious on pizzas, but it has a decidedly less delicious connection to sexual function. A 2013 study found a link between basil consumption and improved testicular function in male rats with testicular toxicity induced by cadmium. 

While this isn’t the herb for ED or herbal Viagra that people are talking about, your balls might very well thank you for including more pesto in your diet in the future. More research is needed though, so for now, just enjoy the flavors.

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Although there aren’t any conclusive studies that show a link between essential oils and better erections, there are several proven, science-based treatments for ED available.

ED Treatments

Currently, the best ED medications are Viagra® (sildenafil),Levitra® (vardenafil), Cialis® (tadalafil) and Stendra® (avanafil). 

These medications are PDE5 inhibitors — vasodilators that work by increasing blood circulation to your penis and making it easier to get and maintain an erection.

While they can potentially cause side effects and drug interactions, problems are rare when they’re used as directed. And on that note, all require a prescription from a healthcare professional, who can help you figure out what ED med is right for you, as well as the most effective way for you to take it.

Therapy 

Since ED medications work by increasing blood flow, they’ll only cause erections when you’re actually aroused — which means sexual desire is key. And one of the things blocking sexual desire can be your own brain.

Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety or the more specific sexual performance anxiety can all be potential triggers for psychological ED. In many cases, the best way to deal with these problems is therapy.

Lifestyle Changes

Making a few small changes to your habits and lifestyle can often improve your sexual performance and reduce the severity of ED — a topic we’ve covered in our list of natural ways to protect your erection. In short, make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, eat a healthy diet and definitely quit smoking if you’ve been known to light up.

Sex Toys

There are lots of ways to treat ED, from medication to vacuum erectile devices and — for severe erectile dysfunction — even surgery. 

But sexual devices like cock rings and vacuum pumps are a lot easier than any of those, and may be just what you and your partner need to satisfy everyone’s needs. Check out our device offerings for more:

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While the studies above can look promising at first, they have several weaknesses. 

  • First, although they do look at certain aspects of sexual function, none specifically address the effects of essential oils on erections or sexual performance.

  • Second, they’re tiny in scale. Most studies of this type feature very few test subjects, meaning it’s difficult to reach a reliable conclusion about the effects of the substance studied.

  • Finally, while it’s good to see some research into the effects of essential oils, they usually aren’t human studies. They’re usually performed on lab rats, meaning we can’t assume that their findings are meaningful or accurate for humans. 

Now, does this mean that essential oils don’t work for ED? Not quite.

Some essential oils might have effects on your sexual performance, including some that could result in better erections for men affected by erectile dysfunction.

But right now, there isn’t any scientific evidence that shows a link between essential oils and better erectile function or sexual performance for men with ED.

If you want to learn more actual, for-real facts about ED, our guide to erectile dysfunction discusses the causes of ED, common symptoms of erectile dysfunction and the latest ED treatment options in more detail.

Common sense says that, because ED is a common sexual performance issue (it does affect about 30 million men in the United States), we’d probably hear more about it if there was a food you could turn into an oil to cure this condition, you know?

The fact is that ED can be psychological, it can be a nervous system issue, it could be related to testosterone levels or it could be a vascular issue among other causes. Determining the cause of your particular ED is an essential part of solving the problem.

Ready to do something about it and get answers? Reach out to speak with a healthcare provider today.

11 Sources

  1. Gholami-Ahangaran, M., Karimi-Dehkordi, M., Akbari Javar, A., Haj Salehi, M., & Ostadpoor, M. (2021). A systematic review on the effect of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) on improvement of biological and fertility indices of sperm in laboratory animals, poultry and humans. Veterinary medicine and science, 7(5), 1959–1969. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8464296/.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-a). Definition & Facts for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts.
  3. Sakr, S. A., & Nooh, H. Z. (2013). Effect of Ocimum basilicum extract on cadmium-induced testicular histomorphometric and immunohistochemical alterations in albino rats. Anatomy & cell biology, 46(2), 122–130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3713276/.
  4. Khaki A. (2015). Effect of Cinnamomum zeylanicumon on Spermatogenesis. Iranian Red Crescent medical journal, 17(2), e18668. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4376985/.
  5. Goswami, S. K., Inamdar, M. N., Jamwal, R., & Dethe, S. (2013). Efficacy of Cinnamomum cassia Blume. in age induced sexual dysfunction of rats. Journal of young pharmacists : JYP, 5(4), 148–153. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930108/.
  6. Banihani S. A. (2018). Ginger and Testosterone. Biomolecules, 8(4), 119. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316093/.
  7. Tajuddin, Ahmad, S., Latif, A., & Qasmi, I. A. (2004). Effect of 50% ethanolic extract of Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry. (clove) on sexual behaviour of normal male rats. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 4, 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC534794/.
  8. Tan, L. T., Lee, L. H., Yin, W. F., Chan, C. K., Abdul Kadir, H., Chan, K. G., & Goh, B. H. (2015). Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang). Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 896314. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4534619/.
  9. Farnia, V., Shirzadifar, M., Shakeri, J., Rezaei, M., Bajoghli, H., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Brand, S. (2015). Rosa damascena oil improves SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in male patients suffering from major depressive disorders: results from a double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled clinical trial. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 11, 625–635. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4358691/.
  10. Ferrini, M. G., Hlaing, S. M., Chan, A., & Artaza, J. N. (2015). Treatment with a combination of ginger, L-citrulline, muira puama and Paullinia cupana can reverse the progression of corporal smooth muscle loss, fibrosis and veno-occlusive dysfunction in the aging rat. Andrology : open access, 4(1), 132. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578663/.
  11. Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 681304. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Mike Bohl, MD

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.

Publications

  • Younesi, M., Knapik, D. M., Cumsky, J., Donmez, B. O., He, P., Islam, A., Learn, G., McClellan, P., Bohl, M., Gillespie, R. J., & Akkus, O. (2017). Effects of PDGF-BB delivery from heparinized collagen sutures on the healing of lacerated chicken flexor tendon in vivo. Acta biomaterialia, 63, 200–209. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1742706117305652?via%3Dihub

  • Gebhart, J. J., Weinberg, D. S., Bohl, M. S., & Liu, R. W. (2016). Relationship between pelvic incidence and osteoarthritis of the hip. Bone & joint research, 5(2), 66–72. https://boneandjoint.org.uk/Article/10.1302/2046-3758.52.2000552

  • Gebhart, J. J., Bohl, M. S., Weinberg, D. S., Cooperman, D. R., & Liu, R. W. (2015). Pelvic Incidence and Acetabular Version in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 35(6), 565–570. https://journals.lww.com/pedorthopaedics/abstract/2015/09000/pelvic_incidence_and_acetabular_version_in_slipped.5.aspx

  • Islam, A., Bohl, M. S., Tsai, A. G., Younesi, M., Gillespie, R., & Akkus, O. (2015). Biomechanical evaluation of a novel suturing scheme for grafting load-bearing collagen scaffolds for rotator cuff repair. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 30(7), 669–675. https://www.clinbiomech.com/article/S0268-0033(15)00143-6/fulltext

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