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Warhol predicted that, in the future, every person would be famous for 15 minutes. What he left out: On the internet, for every health issue, there are at least 15 purported cures. If you’re experiencing ED, you might have run across some claims about apple cider vinegar (ACV) and erectile dysfunction. Here’s what the science says.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular condiment and increasingly popular folk remedy.
- There is no evidence that ACV can treat erectile dysfunction (ED).
- Some studies suggest that ACV might improve health conditions that can lead to ED.
- If you’re experiencing ED, you should talk with a healthcare provider before trying home remedies as it may be an early sign of a serious medical condition.
What is ED?
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is when you can’t get or maintain an erection strong enough for satisfying sex. That can include erections that don’t last as long as you want or aren’t as firm as you’d like. ED is the most common sexual dysfunction: Experts believe that more than 30 million American men have experienced it (Nunes, 2012).
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Erections are a matter of blood flow, and ED can have several causes, some more serious than others. These include
- Heart disease: The most common cause of erectile dysfunction in men over 50 is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries (Cleveland Clinic, n.d.). As arteries stiffen or narrow, blood flow is reduced throughout the body, including to the penis, thereby hindering erections (American Heart Association, n.d.).
- High blood pressure (hypertension): In this condition, blood pumps through blood vessels more forcefully than it should, potentially damaging and narrowing the vessel walls and restricting blood flow (American Heart Association, n.d.).
- Diabetes: High blood sugar associated with diabetes also can damage the walls of blood vessels, impeding blood flow (American Diabetes Association, n.d.).
- Stroke: A stroke can result in neurological damage that can contribute to ED (Koehn, 2019).
- Cancer: A variety of physical and psychological issues related to cancer symptoms, surgery, and treatment can contribute to ED (American Cancer Society, n.d.).
- Anxiety and depression: Depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues such as relationship problems and performance anxiety can all contribute to ED (Rajkumar, 2015).
ACV and ED
Vinegar comes from the French term vin aigre, meaning “sour wine.” Apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, is a condiment fermented from apples. (Regular “white” vinegar is fermented from grain alcohol, and red wine vinegar is fermented from red wine.)
ACV is a common folk remedy that’s been touted online for everything from weight loss to blood sugar control.
Can ACV treat ED?
There is no evidence that apple cider vinegar can treat ED though, as of yet, no studies have been performed on the subject.
How to take ACV
If you decide to try ACV, you can add it to your diet in a few different ways:
- Use it as an ingredient in salad dressings
- Drink 1 or 2 tablespoons plain or mixed with water and lemon
- Use ACV to pickle vegetables like onions, beets, or cucumbers, and enjoy them as a snack or in a salad.
Does ACV have side effects?
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which can cause gastrointestinal problems such as stomach pain or acid reflux.
Because ACV is highly acidic, it can erode tooth enamel. To mitigate that risk after taking ACV, you can rinse your mouth with plain water. Avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after taking ACV, so you don’t scrub the acid into your enamel. (These are both good rules of thumb after consuming other acidic drinks like coffee, tea, or soda.)
Other treatments for ED
If you’re experiencing ED, there are many treatment options available.
Oral prescription medications for ED are very effective. These include sildenafil (brand name Viagra), tadalafil (brand name Cialis), vardenafil (brand names Levitra and Staxyn).
Simple lifestyle changes can also help. Eating a better diet, losing weight, prioritizing quality sleep, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise can make you healthier, and erections are strongest when you’re healthy.
Some men have found natural remedies for ED to be helpful. Research has found that certain supplements (such as DHEA, ginseng, L-arginine, L-carnitine, and yohimbe) may be effective at improving the symptoms of ED.