Introduction: Erectile dysfunction is the persistent or recurrent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse. Despite various treatment options, not all patients respond adequately and their usefulness is limited by adverse effects and cost. Botanical medicine and natural products have been and continue to be invaluable and untapped sources of new drugs, including potentially those to treat erectile dysfunction. Objectives: To review the current literature on botanical medicine traditionally used as aphrodisiacs and treatment of erectile dysfunction, in particular, scientific and clinical investigations that have been performed, possible active phytoconstituents, and mechanisms of action and to identify gaps in current knowledge to better guide future research efforts. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted via PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, and Web of Science on English publications, using various keywords, for example, “herb”, “natural product”, combined with “erectile dysfunction”, “aphrodisiac”, and “sexual performance”. Results: 369 relevant articles studying medicinal plants used for erectile dysfunction were analyzed. A total of 718 plants from 145 families and 499 genera were reported to be used traditionally as aphrodisiacs and treatment of erectile dysfunction. Top plants used include Pausinystalia johimbe, Lepidium meyenii, and Panax ginseng. Different plant parts are used, with roots being the most common. Less than half of these plants have been evaluated scientifically, using various research methodologies. Clinical trials conducted were collated. Current scientific investigation shows mixed results about their usefulness in enhancing sexual performance. A limited number of studies have attempted to elucidate the mechanisms of action of these medicinal plants. Conclusion: A comprehensive literature review on botanical medicine and natural products used for treatment of erectile dysfunction was successfully conducted. Although medicinal plants serve as a potential source of lead compounds for erectile dysfunction drugs, further studies are warranted to further evaluate their efficacy and safety. Sin VJ-E, Anand GS, Koh H-L. Botanical Medicine and Natural Products Used for Erectile Dysfunction. Sex Med Rev 2021;9:568–592.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Reproductive Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynecology