Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
There are a number of natural treatments people believe help with sexual problems — or at least improve sexual desire. Some you may have heard of: horny goat weed and ginseng. But perhaps the most commonly talked about for male sexual dysfunction is ginkgo biloba.
A quick Google search will tell you just how frequently ginkgo biloba and erectile dysfunction (ED) are linked. And while an herbal remedy may sound like a nice way to optimize your sexual encounters, you should know not all natural treatments work.
Wondering if ginkgo biloba for ED is legit? There’s one way to find out — keep reading!
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Before getting into the connection between ginkgo biloba and erectile dysfunction, it’s helpful to know what this natural substance even is.
Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest tree specimens in the world. The extract of ginkgo biloba is frequently used in Chinese medicine, as it’s believed to offer a range of benefits. Common uses include cognitive function, asthma, bladder disorders and bronchitis.
In modern times, ginkgo extract (which is taken from the leaves of the tree) is billed as a supplement that can help with things like anxiety, eye issues and tinnitus — to name just a few.
But there’s a small catch: No definitive evidence shows that ginkgo has beneficial effects on any health issues. That said, there doesn’t appear to be much risk in taking it. It’s safe for most people when taken in moderation.
What about ginkgo biloba for ED? Before diving head first into that topic, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of what causes ED during sexual encounters.
This type of sexual dysfunction affects approximately 30 million American men. In fact, research has found that more than 50 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70 will experience ED at some time in their life.
Normally, when you get an erection, your brain sends a signal to the blood vessels in your penis, telling them to open so blood flow can increase. As this happens, the blood gets trapped in two chambers inside the penis called the corpora cavernosa.
When something interferes with this process, and you can’t maintain an erection firm enough for sex, it’s considered ED.
There are many things that can help with ED, including some alternative treatments — but is ginkgo biloba one of them? Maybe.
The truth is, there isn’t a ton of evidence that the effects of ginkgo biloba extract can improve sexual function in men.
One study did look at using ginkgo biloba extract to treat antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. This type of ED is caused by taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are used to treat depression and anxiety.
The results found that ginkgo biloba extra may help. But here’s the catch: it was actually found to be more effective in helping women on antidepressant medication than men. That said, the study did show some promise for treating men’s sexual dysfunction.
More research has shown that ginkgo can boost levels of nitric oxide in your blood, which improves peripheral blood flow. While it didn’t conclude that ginkgo helps with ED, you could draw the conclusion that anything that increases blood flow could help with erectile issues.
As you can see, ginkgo biloba for ED is not a surefire solution. But the good news is it’s fairly safe to try. If you do decide to take this supplement, you’ll want to study up on the right ginkgo biloba erectile dysfunction dose.
The first thing you can do to figure out the right dosage to (hopefully!) improve sexual function is to look at the label of the ginkgo biloba extract you’re taking. There should be instructions on how much to take.
Looking for more guidance? In the study on taking ginkgo to help with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, people who found it effective took between 60 to 120 milligrams daily.
When in doubt, talking to a healthcare provider can help you figure out the best ginkgo dosage for sexual function.
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Though there’s no guarantee taking ginkgo biloba for ED will work, there’s also no guarantee it won’t. If you decide to take a ginkgo biloba erectile dysfunction dose, it’s important to understand the potential risks first.
Before taking any new supplement, you should consult with a healthcare professional. One of the biggest risks that come with taking a new medication (over-the-counter or prescription) is that it could interact negatively with something else you’re taking.
For example, it’s thought that ginkgo can react poorly with anticoagulants (blood thinners). By letting a healthcare provider know, they can help you keep an eye out for potential side effects.
Adverse effects associated with taking this supplement in the treatment of erectile dysfunction include headaches, blood pressure changes, constipation, an upset stomach and heart palpitations.
While there are no clinical trials proving the efficacy of ginkgo biloba for ED, a number of other medications are scientifically proven to help with the various types of ED — including antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.
Understanding the treatment options will hopefully help you realize there are multiple ways to get back to normal sexual activity.
These types of medication work by relaxing the muscles in the penis, which boosts blood flow to the penis during sexual activity.
This medication can last up to 36 hours — a fact that earned it the reputation for being the “weekend” ED medication.
Levitra® and the generic vardenafil are prescription medications for ED that work within 30 to 60 minutes of taking them. The effects last about five hours, which should cover your sexual activity.
There’s research to back up the effects of vardenafil. In a clinical trial, 75 percent of men said they got an erection good enough for sex after using a 10-milligram dose. What’s more, 80 percent said it worked after taking a 20-milligram dose.
Also known by the brand name Stendra®, avanafil is one of the newer ED prescription medications. It’s also a PDE5 inhibitor.
Many gravitate toward avanafil when reviewing all the treatment options because it works 15 minutes after you take it. Plus, fewer side effects are associated with the medication.
From horny goat weed to ginseng, there are lots of alternative treatments for ED. But perhaps none is more talked about than ginkgo biloba for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Ginkgo is commonly used in Chinese medicine, but it’s also used more widely.
But does it work? Some research suggests that it could. One study found it may help with antidepressant-induced erectile dysfunction. Specifically, it seemed to help people on SSRIs, which are a type of antidepressant medication.
That said, a lot more research needs to be done to conclude that ginkgo can be effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Before taking any medication or supplement, it’s key to check in with a healthcare provider. You want to ensure it won’t interact with medications (like an antidepressant treatment) or medical conditions you have (such as high blood pressure).
If you’re dealing with any type of sexual dysfunction — whether it’s ED, premature ejaculation or something else — it can really impact your life.
Having unsatisfactory sexual responses can hurt your confidence and your relationships. To figure out what’s going on and get to a place where you’re no longer struggling with sexual difficulty, schedule an online consultation with a healthcare provider or a professional specializing in sex therapy.
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Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.