The Best Herbs & Foods For Supporting Men’s Health

The Best Herbs & Foods For Supporting Men’s Health

There are a number of evidence-based herbs and foods which have been shown to support male sexual function and reproductive health.

Medicinal herbs coupled with dietary and lifestyle interventions are some of the most powerful tools for addressing the common pathophysiological mechanisms which underpin mens sexual health disorders such as endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, anxiety disorder and much more.

Traditional herbal remedies such as Ginseng, Wild Oats, Damiana and so on are also used in folk medicine for their aphrodisiac and tonic properties.

Lets take a look at some of the foods and traditional herbs with some of the strongest evidence-base for supporting mens health.

1. Oatstraw (Avena Sativa)

Oatstraw Avena Sativa Mens Health

Oatstraw(Avena Sativa) is a gentle nourishing “nervine” herb that is traditionally recommended for its aphrodisiac properties and to increase sex drive.

In traditional medicine, avena sativa is used to treat nervous debility, insomnia and nerve weakness.

Oatstraw is a great choice of medicinal herb for sexual dysfunction associated with poor nervous system function, stress and anxiety. Nervine herbs such as avena sativa help to strengthen and tone the nervous system, especially the parasympathetic branch.

A study in 1986 by the Institute for Advanced Study of Sexuality in San Francisco reported effects like heightened sexual awareness, increased sexual thoughts, more orgasms (36% in men and 29% in women) and some male subjects showed increased levels of testosterone attributed to unbinding of testosterone from TBG. Oats supply steroidal saponins which modulate hormonal balance. [1]

2. Pine Pollen

Pine Pollen Superfood Mens Health

Pine pollen powder is often referred to in studies as a “natural micronutrient storeroom,” rich in over 200 nutrients including body-demanding amino acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and flavonoids.

Pine Pollen also contains small quantities of phytoandrogens, which may also contribute to its potent sex drive and libido boosting effects.

“Testosterone, epi-testosterone and androstenedione were found in the pollen of Scotch pine P. silvestrisL. (Saden-Krehulaet al., 1971)”

3. Cistanche Deserticola

Cistanche Deserticola Herbs

Cistanche Deserticola or “Rou Cong Rong” is one of the leading medicinal herbs in traditional Chinese medicine used as a tonic herb for improving men’s health and restoring sexual function.

Cistanche is commonly referred to as “Desert Ginseng” due to its broad spectrum ginseng-esque tonic properties and is famously referred to as “the stalk enlarger” due to its purported ability to increase penis size and improve erectile function.

In traditional Chinese medicine Cistanche is recommended to help restore “kidney yang” and to tonify jing.

“Modern pharmacology studies have since demonstrated that C. deserticola possesses broad medicinal functions, especially for use in hormone regulation, aperient, immunomodulatory, neuroprotective, antioxidative, anti-apoptotic, anti-nociceptive, anti-inflammatory, anti-fatigue activities and the promotion of bone formation” [2]

4. Pomegranate

Pomegranate Fruit Erectile Dysfunction

Pomegranate is one of the oldest known edible fruits and is a great source of antioxidant phyto-chemicals such as (polyphenolic flavonoids, tannins and anthocyanins) which are considered to be potent anti-atherogenic agents.

Some small short term randomized studies have even found that pomegranate juice may help improve erectile function in ED patients.

Pomegranate is one of the top fruits for supporting cardiovascular health and research has found pomegranate to exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic properties, regulating blood pressure, positively influencing macrophage, endothelial cell and platelet function, lowering lipid oxidation, reducing blood glucose levels.

Pomegranate is the perfect choice of “superfood” to add to one’s diet for individuals suffering from erectile dysfunction due to poor cardiovascular function and atherosclerosis.

5. Korean Red Ginseng

Korean Red Ginseng Erectile Dysfunction Herbs

The Panax Ginseng species of herbs is one of the most popular tonic and “adaptogen” herbs consumed worldwide for its ability to increase energy, vitality and virility.

The Korean Red Ginseng variety is one of the medicinal herbs with the strongest evidence-base for its ability to treat erectile dysfunction(ED).

Ginseng and ginsenosides promote endothelial nitric oxide (NO) release, which exerts a direct effect on ED through triggering erection mediated by relaxation of the smooth muscles of the corpus cavernosum (Choi 1998; Choi 1999; De Andrade 2007). [3]

Several systematic reviews have now evaluated the current RCT’s and have demonstrated positive effects of red ginseng on erectile dysfunction.

6. Flavonoid Rich Foods(Dark Chocolate, Berries, Tea)

Flavonoids Erectile Dysfunction Research

Studies have found that men who consume a higher intake of flavonoid rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, tea, dark chocolate and red wine to have a lower risk of developing erectile dysfunction(ED).

Foods rich in flavonoids include fruits such as apples, berries, grapes, vegetables such as onions, kale, broccoli, soybeans and legumes, dark chocolate(cocoa flavonols) and beverages such as tea(camellia sinensis) and red wine.

A prospective study among 25,096 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study was published in 2016 examined associations between flavonoid intake and erectile function.

The study concluded:

These data suggest that a higher habitual intake of specific flavonoid-rich foods is associated with reduced ED incidence. [4]

7. Pistachios

Pistachios Erectile Dysfunction

A study published in 2011 found that a Pistachio enriched diet improved erectile function parameters and serum lipid profiles in patients with erectile dysfunction.

Pistachios are an excellent source of many nutrients which have been shown to support mens health and cardiovascular function including Vitamin E, heart-healthy unsaturated fats, antioxidants and phyto-sterols.

The study demonstrated that a pistachio diet improved International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scores and penile color Doppler ultrasound (PCDU) parameters without any associated side effects in patients with ED. Furthermore, the lipid parameters showed statistically significant improvements after this diet. [6]

8. Maca

Maca Root Mens Health Herbs

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a prized Peruvian superfood which is traditionally recommended to boost libido, stamina and vigor.

Maca also commonly referred to as “Peruvian Ginseng” is a popular adaptogenic herb, which increases the bodies resistance to stress and modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Whilst Maca doesn’t exert direct hormonal action, as with all adaptogen herbs it increases sex drive and function through optimizing the hpa-axis and supporting the adrenal glands.

Studies have found that Maca has high effectiveness in improving sexual function, increasing libido and improving erectile dysfunction; also helps reproductive health, increasing sperm count and sperm motility, enhances the anticancer action and improves inflammatory responses. [7]

9. Damiana (Turnera Diffusa)

Damania Mens Health Herbs

Damiana(Turnera diffusa) is a wild plant that grows in Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies and is traditionally recommended by herbalists as an aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire.

Damiana is a great choice of herb for sexual dysfunction conditions where there is an anxiety or nervous related component.

Studies have also confirmed that damiana has aphrodisiac and anxiolytic effects.

The results supported the use of T. diffusa as an aphrodisiac in traditional medicine and suggest possible therapeutic properties of T. diffusa on sexual dysfunction. [7.5]

10. Cordyceps Sinensis

Cordyceps Sinensis Mens Health Herbs

Cordyceps Sinensis is a fungal parasite on the larvae of Lepidoptera and has a long traditional history of being recommended as a tonic to enhance sexual function and improve reproductive health.

Cordyceps is a great choice of medicinal mushroom for sexual dysfunction conditions which are caused due to low energy and chronic fatigue.

Cordyceps can help to enhance ATP production and animal studies have also found that cordyceps can stimulate testosterone biosynthesis.

Cordyceps is regarded as a tonifying herb with both ‘Yin-nourishing’ and ‘Yang-invigorating’ actions. [8]

A recent study review published 2016 evaluated on the literature on cordyceps sinensis in sexual dysfunction stating:

This review has focused on illustrating that O. sinensis can enhance libido and sexual performance, and can restore impaired reproductive functions, such as impotency or infertility, in both sexes.

This review shows that O. sinensis supplementation increased the total sperm number, the percentage of motile sperm cells, and serum testosterone. [9]

11. Tongkat Ali (Malaysian Ginseng)

Eurycoma Longifolia Tongkat Ali

Eurycoma Longifolia Jack also commonly known as Tongkat Ali, “Longjack” and “Malaysian Ginseng” is another very popular traditional herbal medicine for supporting men’s health, increasing testosterone levels and improving sexual function.

Tongkat Ali is one of the most popular ingredients in common penis enlargement and erectile dysfunction herbal supplement formulas and for good reason too, it is one of the medicinal herbs with the most evidence-base for its ability to boost male sexual health and performance.

A systematic review published 2017 in the Chinese journal of natural medicines analyzed and summarized the literature on human clinical trials which revealed the clinical significance and therapeutic feasibility of Eurycoma longifolia in improving male sexual health.

Out of 150 articles, 11 met the inclusion criteria. The majority of articles included were randomized placebo-controlled trials, multiple cohort studies, or pilot trials.

All these studies demonstrated considerable effects of EL on male sexual health disorders.

Among them, 7 studies revealed remarkable association between the use of EL and the efficacy in the treatment of male sexual disorders, and remaining 4 studies failed to demonstrate sufficient effects on male sexual health.

In summary, there is convincing evidence for the prominence of EL in improving the male sexual health. [10]

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials published in 2015 concluded:

Based on current evidence, the herbal extract of Tongkat Ali may have clinical effect on erectile function. [11]

12. Saffron

Saffron Sexual Dysfunction Research

Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a flowering plant in the Crocus genus in the iris family Iridaceae and is also considered to be the worlds most expensive spice.

Clinical research has found that Saffron has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant effects and treat sexual dysfunction.

Numerous systematic reviews and meta-analysis of clinical studies have now concluded that the spice Saffron can improve sexual dysfunction and boost erectile function.

Several studies have also recently explored Saffron’s potent anti-depressant properties, with research showing comparable anti-depressant ctivity to many pharmaceutical medications.  Depression is another common risk factor for erectile and sexual dysfunction.

In general, saffron was proven effective in improving sexual dysfunction and its subscales among participants; this effect was different on different dimensions of sexual dysfunction. [12]

Saffron has a positive effect on erectile dysfunction. [13]


[1] Asian herbals and aphrodisiacs used for managing ED

[2] Cistanche deserticola Y. C. Ma, “Desert Ginseng”: A Review

[3] Ginseng for erectile dysfunction

[4] Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction.

[5] The role of dietary polyphenols in the management of erectile dysfunction-Mechanisms of action

[6] Pistachio diet improves erectile function parameters and serum lipid profiles in patients with erectile dysfunction.

[7] Systematic Review On The Use Of Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) In Sexual Dysfunction

[7.5] Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs

[8] Enhancement of ATP generation capacity, antioxidant activity and immunomodulatory activities by Chinese Yang and Yin tonifying herbs

[9] Review of Naturopathy of Medical Mushroom, Ophiocordyceps Sinensis, in Sexual Dysfunction

[10] Eurycoma Longifolia as a potential adaptogen of male sexual health: a systematic review on clinical studies.

[11] Efficacy of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) on erectile function improvement: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

[12] Effects of saffron (Crocus sativus) on sexual dysfunction among men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis

[13] A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials on saffron (Crocus sativus) effectiveness and safety on erectile dysfunction and semen parameters

The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

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