Acupuncture and herbs are effective for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In research conducted at the Yunnan Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture plus herbs produced a 46.56% total effective rate. Using only herbal medicine produced a 16.17% total effective rate and using only acupuncture produced an 13.24% total effective rate.  The researchers conclude, “Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine has a synergistic therapeutic effect on erectile dysfunction.”
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a sexual disorder characterized by the persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse (＞3 months).  Recently, ED has become a global health problem and is estimated to affect 322 million males by 2025.  In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), ED is in the scope of Jin Wei (translated as tendon wilting) and is related to aging, excessive masturbation or sex, emotional conditions (e.g., depression), congenital deficiencies, or improper diet.
The main TCM diagnostic patterns are liver qi stagnation, blood stasis, and kidney essence deficiency. In this study, the researchers note, “Emotion conditions can harm the liver and cause liver qi stagnation. According to TCM principles, the liver governs the tendons and the genitals are the gathering place of the ancestral tendon. The liver failing to course freely causes obstruction of the liver governed meridians and malnourishment of the ancestral tendon, leading to ED. On the other hand, insufficiency of kidney essence may result in debilitation of the life gate fire. In other words, essence from the kidney fails to be transported into the ancestral tendon, making the genitalia become limp and wilted.” The treatment principle is to smooth the flow of liver qi, free the meridians for invigorating blood circulation, and tonifying kidney essence.
Psychological Interventions In TCM, emotional conditions (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression) are believed to play a vital role in causing ED. Thus, psychological interventions can be beneficial for patients with ED. All three groups (i.e., acupuncture plus herbs, herbs only, acupuncture only) received identical instructions prior to beginning the clinical trial. Patients were educated by acupuncturists with knowledge of ED related pathological features. The purpose is to let the patients understand more about the disease, which helps to alleviate emotional burdens. In addition, female partners received counseling to avoid emotional and communication issues and to promote a greater understanding of the medical condition.
A total of 176 patients with erectile dysfunction were treated and evaluated in this study. They were randomly divided into an acupuncture plus herbs group, an herbal medicine group, and an acupuncture group. The acupuncture plus herbs and herbs only group received identical herbal medicines. The same acupuncture point prescription was given to the acupuncture plus herbs and acupuncture only groups.
Patient Breakdown The statistical breakdown for each randomized group was as follows. The average age in the acupuncture plus herb group was 41.3 (±8.1) years. The average course of disease in the acupuncture plus herb group was 2.7 (±1.8) years. The average age in the herb group was 39.1 (±6.7) years. The average course of disease in the herb group was 2.6 (±1.3) years. The average age in the acupuncture group was 38.3 (±7.4) years. The average course of disease in the drug group was 2.3 (±1.5) years. There were no significant statistical differences in terms of age and course of disease relevant to patient outcome measures.
Acupuncture and Herb Treatment For each group, a specific acupuncture point prescription or herbal medicine formula was prescribed. The primary acupoints selected for acupuncture treatment participants were the following:
Additional acupoints were administered based on differential diagnostic patterns. For kidney deficiency patients, the following acupuncture points were added:
For damp-heat accumulation patients, the following acupoints were added: