Life Extension Magazine®

Couple in a bed after the man took ginger-like extract

Enhance Male Sexual Health

A ginger-like root was shown to improve sexual health in 61.5% of male participants in a published study.

Scientifically reviewed by Michael A. Smith, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Michael Downey , Health & Wellness Author.

Erectile dysfunction medication may not be the only way for men to enjoy a more satisfying sex life. In fact, a ginger-like root known as Kaempferia parviflora not only supports erectile function, but also encourages libido and sex drive. Michael Downey explains how a nutrient derived from a spice may be exactly what a man needs to "spice things up."

Mention erectile dysfunction and most people think of Viagra® and similar drugs.

These drugs work by relaxing the smooth muscles lining the arteries, that increases blood flow to the penis. They also come with some side effects.1-4

Male sexual health is about more than just an erection and sex. It also includes interest, response, sexual desire, and satisfaction.

Researchers have found a safer way to treat erectile dysfunction and improve overall sexual health: an extract of a ginger-like root called Kaempferia parviflora.

Long used in South Asia as an aphrodisiac to enhance male sexual function,5-7 this plant extract gently supports increased blood flow to the penis while also enhancing brain responses to sexual stimuli.8-12

A recently published study13 adds to previous evidence6 demonstrating its effectiveness. In the report, improved erections were noted by 61.5% of participants.

Unlike pharmaceuticals, Kaempferia parviflora also improves response time to erotic stimuli and intercourse satisfaction. Noticeable improvements in sex life have been shown in as few as 30 days.6,13

As a side-benefit, this ginger-like extract may also help protect against arterial stiffening throughout the body.

A Safe Alternative to Drugs

Erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra®, Cialis®, and Levitra® work rapidly to enhance penile blood flow.

These drugs, however, come with some drawbacks:

  1. They provide only temporary effects;
  2. Cost up to $50 a pill without insurance;
  3. Function by only one mechanism;
  4. Can cause side effects such as skin flush­ing, visual disturbances, hearing loss, and headache.14

And male sexual problems go beyond arousal. Improved penile blood flow doesn’t address other factors crucial for sexual satisfaction, like interest and desire for sex.

That’s why scientists view a Thai Black Ginger, scientifically called Kaempferia parviflora as a potential advance in male sexual health. Also known as Thai Ginseng, it works on both the body and the brain as an aphrodisiac to enhance the overall male sexual experience.

Studies show that taking this plant-based ingredient can result in improvements in response time, and in intercourse satisfaction, in addition to erectile function. And Kaempferia achieves this overall sexual improvement in a sustainable and safe way.6,13

what you need to know

Ginger-like Extract Enhances Sexual Function

  • Although erectile dysfunction is often treated with drugs such as Viagra®, male sexual health goes well beyond erectile function.
  • A ginger-like root extract, Kaempferia parviflora, gently supports blood flow to the penis while also enhancing response time to sexual stimuli, and intercourse satisfaction, with results seen in as little as 30 days.
  • Erectile dysfunction is also a useful indicator of vascular (blood vessel) and endothelial (blood vessel lining) problems. In other words, it is one of the earliest symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
  • Studies show that, by allowing arteries to relax and offer minimum resistance to blood flow, Kaempferia may provide protection against multiple types of cardiovascular disease.

Improved Overall Sexual Health

Man and woman sitting on couch

A human study recently published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine shows the benefits the herb of Kaempferia parviflora.

Scientists enlisted 14 healthy, sexually active men who had self-reported, mild erectile dysfunction. None were using any prescription treatments for this condition.13

Each volunteer took one capsule containing 100 mg of Kaempferia extract once daily for 30 days. The extract was standardized to 5% of the active compound, 5,7-dimethoxyflavone (5,7-DMF). The active 5,7-DMF compound has been shown in lab studies to be instrumental in how this extract works.9

The investigators employed the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) questionnaire, a validated 15-item survey used to assess the severity of erectile dysfunction.15,16

The 13 men who completed the study were an average age of 58. According to the IIEF questionnaire, improved erections were reported by 61.5% of participants. And the average score for the question, “When you attempted intercourse, how often were you able to penetrate your partner?” increased by an average of 12.5%. 13

There was another compelling finding that goes beyond erectile function.

Participants also reported a mean increase of 13% in sex satisfaction. And they reported improvements in their overall sexual health.13

There were no meaningful changes in blood pressure or in an array of other measures, ranging from cholesterol and blood glucose to testosterone and body weight.13

The positive results and lack of harsh side effects make this root extract a new option for men interested in enhancing sexual function.

Additional Research

Scientist looking in a microscope

An earlier clinical trial in aging men found that Kaempferia parviflora enhances the overall male sexual experience.6

The study assigned 45 men, with an average age of 65, into one of three groups. One group took a placebo, one took 25 mg of Kaempferia extract, and the third took 90 mg of this extract for eight weeks.6

Compared to the placebo group, those taking the 90 mg dose had a quicker erectile response to visual erotic stimuli. Elapsed time between stimulus and full erection was cut by 50%, from 10 minutes to just five. Those taking 25 mg of the extract did not experience a statistically significant reduction in response times, suggesting that the dose was not sufficient.6

Men taking 90 mg of the extract also experienced about one-centimeter greater penile length, both when flaccid and erect. Within one month, their penile circumference (girth) also increased by as much as 1-1.5 centimeters (about half an inch), which was largely sustained at two months.6

Again, this study found no significant changes in testosterone or other hormones, or any other indicators of safety problems.6

Together, these clinical studies provide evidence that Kaempferia extract can safely improve erectile dysfunction and boost overall sexual health and interest over a sustained period.6,13

How It Works

Human circulatory system

Laboratory and animal studies have identified two main mechanisms through which Kaempferia parviflora improves sexual health in men.

The first mechanism seems to involve the activation of brain responses to sexual stimuli. Studies on rats showed that in addition to enhancing blood flow to the genitals, Kaempferia extract improved sexual motivation and increased sexual behavior.7,8,17 In other words, this extract appears to fight low libido and increase the overall desire to engage in sex, once presented with sensory stimulation. This is an action unique to Kaempferia that is not a feature of erectile dysfunction drugs.

The second mechanism improves arterial and endothelial (blood vessel lining) function throughout the body. These improvements have a particularly important impact on the penis, a highly sensitive recipient of blood flow. This is what produces the clinical effects of improved erectile response times and increased size of the penis.6,13

Similar to erectile dysfunction drugs, this extract was also shown to inhibit the enzyme PDE5,9 which normally sends a signal to reduce blood flow through the arteries in the penis, causing an erection to diminish.12

Broader Cardiovascular Benefits

Man and woman touching

Kaempferia parviflora isn’t just a safe aphrodisiac. It also appears to deliver body-wide cardiovascular protection.

Erectile dysfunction is an important early warning sign for underlying cardiovascular disease, because it is an indicator of the functioning of vascular (blood vessel) and endothelial (blood vessel lining) processes.18,19

Studies show that men with erectile dysfunction have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and are more likely to die prematurely compared to men who have normal erectile function. This is regardless of age and other cardiovascular factors.18,20

Nitric oxide deficit, which is a major cause of endothelial dysfunction and also oxidative stress, often shows up first as erectile dysfunction. But it can also be an indicator of vascular disorders that may result in heart attack or stroke.21-25

Aside from the sexual benefits already discussed, Kaempferia exerts broader arterial benefits by promoting the production of nitric oxide, which helps relax arteries everywhere in the body. In addition to easing erectile dysfunction, this action shows promise in preventing multiple types of vascular-related diseases.10-13,26

An animal study demonstrated the beneficial effects of Kaempferia extract in the heart. In isolated portions of rat aorta, the active component of Kaempferia, 5,7-DMF, triggered significant relaxation, which produced a larger space through which blood could flow. These shifts were traced, in part, to higher levels of nitric oxide and cyclic GMP, intracellular signaling molecules that tell arterial muscles to relax.10

These findings show that by allowing arteries to relax and offer less resistance to blood, Kaempferia extract can benefit systemic vascular health while it improves male sexual health.


Many aging men with erectile dysfunction are prescribed costly drugs that can cause side effects.

Research shows that a ginger-like root extract called Kaempferia parviflora leads to improvements in erectile function, boosts response time and intercourse satisfaction. Studies show enhanced overall sexual health in men improving in as little as 30 days.

Kaempferia increases levels of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and enables efficient blood flow. This is critical for both healthy male sexual function and overall blood vessel health.

Studies show that this extract isn't just an aphrodisiac, it demonstrates promise beyond sexual health. By relaxing arteries throughout the body, this extract can help maintain systemic vascular health.

Conclusion: The health benefits of Kaempferia parviflora make it worth a second look for men seeking to improve their sex drive, erectile function, and overall satisfaction.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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