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Olive Oil & Lemon Juice For ED: Is It Effective?

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/16/2022

Updated 01/10/2024

We've heard some pretty out-there “cures” for erectile dysfunction over the years, but olive oil and lemon juice for ED is definitely in a category of its own. Nevertheless, this classic salad dressing recipe could offer more than flavor, according to some modest scientific research. 

There is some research that suggests extra virgin olive oil may offer cardiovascular health benefits and lemon juice may contain useful antioxidants. But there isn't any high-quality scientific research to claim olive oil and lemon juice is better for ED than Viagra.

Below, we’ve shared some of the research and busted common myths about the effects of olive oil and lemon juice on your erections and sexual function. We’ve also shared some evidence-based treatments that don’t read like the recipe for a vinaigrette.

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If you came here looking for a tasty way to tame your ED, we have bad news: currently, there’s zero scientific evidence suggesting that olive oil and lemon juice work as a treatment for erectile dysfunction

Both of these ingredients are good for your general health and well-being, and eating them as part of a healthy diet may help reduce your risk of developing medical conditions whose symptoms absolutely include erectile dysfunction. But their effects on your sexual capacity, testosterone levels and risk of erectile dysfunction are indirect at best.

No, we’re sorry to say that olive oil and lemon juice aren’t nature’s Viagra. For anyone who read a headline like “Olive Oil and Lemon Juice Better Than Viagra and Cialis,” you can essentially disregard this information (and the people who wrote it) as uninformed. 

Olive oil and lemon juice are foods with benefits we’ll get into in a moment, but they’re not really a medication designed to do anything. Viagra, meanwhile, is. It’s a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor — one of the prescription ED treatments specifically designed to increase blood flow to your penis. It’s powerful, effective, and safe if used correctly.

And as for the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice side effects, well, there aren’t any unless you have a particular allergy (or aren’t a big fan of either one). Viagra, on the other hand, does come with a risk of side effects — mostly benign, but some serious ones, too.

That means no mixing olive oil and lemon Viagra shots for some superfood pregaming, guys. 

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Olive oil and lemon juice aren't erectile supplements, but they both offer possible benefits as regular elements of your diet.

Olive oil is a liquid fat that, when used in a balanced diet, may contribute to healthier blood vessels. Some research shows that as part of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil helps with weight loss. 

Lemon juice, meanwhile, is the juice from everyone’s favorite yellow citrus fruit. It holds anti-inflammatory properties through vitamin C and other antioxidants.

In other words, olive oil and lemon benefits sexually speaking are indirect at best.

So, where did the whole "olive oil and lemon juice for sex" thing come from? Look no further than the Mediterranean diet.

A Mediterranean diet is a significant commitment that includes olive oil and lemons (or lemon juice) may help reduce your risk of developing heart disease and improve your overall well-being. 

It may help keep your blood vessels healthy and reduce men’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which is a major contributor to ED. Reducing your cardiovascular risk may improve your blood flow, which may positively impact your erectile health. 

Here’s the data to support this reasonable theory:

  • A study published in the European Heart Journal in 2021 found that men with hypertension experience improvements in erectile performance, levels of testosterone and exercise tolerance when they stick to a Mediterranean diet.

  • The Mediterranean diet is built around plant-based meals with moderate portions of lean meat, poultry and seafood — not just olive oil. 

  • It emphasizes avoiding or limiting your intake of eggs, butter, red meats and sugar-rich foods. 

But there’s more to it than just cooking with olive oil and chugging lemon water. Related information: does drinking water help sexually?

Like with many nuanced and complicated science-related topics, study findings don’t always make for exciting headlines. So, this olive oil and lemon Viagra alternative was exaggerated.

News outlets and tabloid blogs exaggerated the importance of the ingredients and shifted away  from things like, “It may help improve blood flow” to, “Does Olive Oil and Lemon Juice Work Like Viagra,” to “this stuff'll make you A SEX GOD.”

Some of these headlines:

  • The Independent, a UK newspaper, published a story with the headline “Olive Oil ‘Better Than Viagra’ at Slashing Impotence” in August of 2018.

  • A day later, the Huffington Post published an article with the headline “Olive Oil May Be Better Than Viagra At Improving Your Sex Life, Greek Scientists Say.”

  • The Huffington Post story quotes a Medical Daily page that’s since been removed for failing to meet the outlet’s editorial standards.

These articles aren’t totally wrong, but how they present the evidence isn’t accurate. Some assessments of existing research tend to conclude that we have “large, strong and consistent” evidence that eating a Mediterranean diet is associated with better cardiovascular health outcomes. 

But for those of you who found your way here googling how to use olive oil for manpower, or olive oil and lemon juice for sex, this isn’t the salad dressing you’re looking for. 

Unlike the average American diet, the Mediterranean diet can indeed reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease, but there isn’t any evidence that olive oil is “better than Viagra” as a treatment for ED.

Choose your chew

Instead of drinking olive oil and lemon juice to deal with ED, you’ll get the best results for better erectile function by sticking to evidence-based, proven treatments, including medications, lifestyle changes and, sure, a balanced diet. 

Currently, the FDA has approved several oral medications for erectile dysfunction, all of which belong to a class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors. These medications include:

  • Sildenafil, which is the active ingredient in Viagra

  • Tadalafil, which is the active ingredient in Cialis

  • Vardenafil, which is the active ingredient in Levitra®

  • Avanafil, which is currently available as Stendra®

PDE5 inhibitors work by increasing blood flow to the erectile tissues inside your penis, making it easier to get and stay hard when you’re sexually aroused. ED medications can be taken at least 15 to 60 minutes before you plan to have sex (depending on the specific med), making them easy to use as needed.

You can also try making simple changes to your habits and lifestyle, which can also reduce your risk of experiencing long-term erectile dysfunction. Try to: 

  • Quit smoking. Smoking can contribute to heart disease, which is a major risk factor for and one of the potential causes of erectile dysfunction.

  • Stay physically active. Even if it’s just a walk around your neighborhood, getting at least 30 minutes of regular physical activity a day can improve your heart health and blood flow, and regulate blood pressure and general quality of life.

  • Eat a healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet is linked to improvements in cholesterol, heart health and erections, but you can see benefits from any diet that prioritizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats over salt and saturated fats.

  • Limit your alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol use is associated with ED (both in the long term and in the short term, which you may hear referred to as “whiskey dick”) and premature ejaculation (PE), so drink in moderation or avoid drinking alcohol entirely.

  • Avoid recreational drugs. Many recreational drugs can reduce arousal and sensation, so put them down when you try to get it up (and if you think you have a substance use disorder, let your primary care provider know).

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So, are you about to balsa-make your problems go away with a little light-dressing? Nope. That’s not how it works. 

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is one of the most common forms of male sexual dysfunction, affecting an estimated 30 million men in the United States alone. Treating it is a popular problem that’s far outside the scope of your favorite Greek restaurant.

It’s going to take more than olive oil and lemon for you to treat ED. What you need to remember is:

  • YES eating a diet with a focus on olive oil, fresh vegetables and lean protein sources may provide real, measurable benefits for your cardiovascular and sexual health. 

  • AND over the long term, this could contribute to better circulatory health and a reduced risk of heart disease and/or ED.  

  • BUT the theory that drinking a mix of olive oil and lemon juice before sex can stop erectile dysfunction isn’t supported by any real evidence, nor is the idea that olive oil works similarly to medications like Viagra, which are designed specifically to improve blood flow to the penis.

  • SO if you have ED, you’ll get the best results by sticking to proven erectile dysfunction treatments such as sildenafil, tadalafil and Stendra

Interested in learning more before you start? Our complete guide to the most common erectile dysfunction treatments and drugs goes into more detail about how these medications work, as well as the steps that you can take to deal with ED for good. 

Oh, and have that lightly dressed salad anyway — it’s not like it’s going to hurt you. Depending on your recipe, you might want to know the facts about some other ingredients as well, like whether honey makes you last longer?

10 Sources

  1. Definition & Facts for Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  2. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
  3. Martínez-González, M.A., Gea, A. & Ruiz-Canela, M. (2019, March). The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation Research. 134 (5), 779-798. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30817261/
  4. Owoseje, T. (2018, August 30). Olive Oil ‘Better Than Viagra’ at Slashing Impotence. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/olive-oil-viagra-impotence-sex-life-men-performance-a8513936.html
  5. Kappler, M. (2018, August 31). Olive Oil May Be Better Than Viagra At Improving Your Sex Life, Greek Scientists Say. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/olive-oil-erectile-dysfunction_n_61087504e4b0497e67027064
  6. Angelis, A., et al. (2021, October). Exercise capacity benefit in relation to endogenous testosterone, coronary and central vascular physiology, and the Mediterranean regime in hypertensive males with erectile dysfunction. European Heart Journal. 42 (1), ehab724.2390. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/42/Supplement_1/ehab724.2390/6392925
  7. Mediterranean diet. (2020, July 13). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000110.htm
  8. Dhaliwal, A. & Gupta, M. (2021, June 25). PDE5 Inhibitors. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  9. Preventing Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/prevention
  10. Arackal, B.S. & Benegal, V. (2007). Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 49 (2), 109-112. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/
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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