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Watermelon as Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction

Watermelon is a rich source of citrulline, which has been found to improve erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction (impotence).

April 23, 2012 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Images thanks to tiny banquet committee, Life in Wonderland, and Starliner and Candie_N via Wikimedia Commons.


As noted in a recent article in the Harvard Health Letter, up to three­quarters of men with cholesterol­narrowed coronary arteries have some degree of erectile dysfunction. There's drugs like Viagra, but they're temporary—and expensive—solution that can cause hazardous side effects. Obviously if your arterial system is that damaged A more intensive effort that involves much more than popping a pill can yield longer­term improvements in both sexual function and cardiovascular health. Plant-based diets can not only reverse both conditions, but one plant in particular may be able to play a stop-gap role in the meantime.
The way drugs like Viagra work is by inhibiting an enzyme that inactivates something called cGMP, which would otherwise dilates penile blood vessels. So, enzyme inhibition, means more cGMP, which means more blood flow. But there’s another way to boost CGMP levels, by going to the other side of the equation and stimulating the enzyme that makes it. That’s what nitric oxide does, nitric oxide is made from arginine, arginine can be produced by citrulline, so I wonder what would happen if you ate more citrulline. Oral citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction.
And where is citrulline found? Watermelon. How much watermelon would you have to eat every day to match the dose they used in the study? Three and a half servings a day—unless you eat yellow water melon, which has about 4 times as much citrulline, so just a serving a day, one wedge, one sixteeth of a modest melon should work as good as the supplement they used, allowing for a 68% increase in monthly intercourse frequency which your heart should be able to handle given how much lower your bood pressure will be with watermelon supplementation. Watermelon's… got it all.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Just as Indian gooseberries may help treat diabetes (see Amla Versus Diabetes), but it's better to reverse the disease (How To Treat Diabetes), watermelon may help treat the symptoms of pelvic atherosclerosis, but it's better to get to the root of the problem and clear out the arterial plaque. See Our Number One Killer Can Be Stopped and the 10 other videos on reversing chronic disease. For more on diet and sexual dysfunction, see Cholesterol and Female Sexual DysfunctionAtkins Diet: Trouble Keeping It Up and Rosy Glow. There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Pollutants in Californian Breast Tissue and Flaxseeds for Diabetes

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Just as Indian gooseberries may help treat diabetes (see Amla Versus Diabetes), but it’s better to reverse the disease (How To Treat Diabetes), watermelon may help treat the symptoms of pelvic atherosclerosis, but it’s better to get to the root of the problem and clear out the arterial plaque. See Our Number One Killer Can Be Stopped and the 10 other videos on reversing chronic disease. For more on diet and sexual dysfunction, see Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction, Atkins Diet: Trouble Keeping It Up and Rosy Glow. There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

  • HemoDynamic

    From my practice in Redding CA today there is going to be a mad dash to the store for watermelon! And in a week there will be a shortage in the local area!!

  • Marc Slavin

    Another reason to love watermelon…

  • ks391262

    Are there any studies you have found on hair loss and diet, especially male pattern baldness?

  • Marvin

    A couple
    of suggestions.

    Erection problems can be mainly physical, mainly psychological, or a mambo
    combo. You say that you are unable to maintain an erection during intercourse.
    Can you keep an erection when she touches your penis with her hands or mouth,
    or when you masturbate?
    Some men have problems keeping erections at the beginning of a relationship.
    Then, after they become more comfortable with their new partners, their
    erections become more reliable. Pay attention to your erection patterns to help
    you decide if you need to see a urologist or a sex therapist. If you have
    erections when you wake up or through masturbation, but not with a partner,
    that’s important information that says your body is working correctly,
    physically. For the time being, why not receive pleasure and not worry about
    erections? These kinds of difficulties are common and transient. You can view
    them as part of life rather than as problems. Or, if it is a problem for
    you, sex therapy may make a difference


    You could be experiencing
    “desensitization” from your masturbation, or “performance
    anxiety” due to your lack of actual experience with a partner.

    To overcome either of these the most effective “technique” is for you
    and your partner to:

    1. Go into your bedroom and get as comfortable as possible.
    You both need to be very relaxed (not via alcohol, or drugs). Try soft lights,
    soft music. Remove your clothing and continue to relax together.

    2. Slowly begin to lovingly touch each other with NO goal to engage in sex. As
    your level of excitement rises relax and enjoy the feelings. Again you are NOT
    going to have sex (tonight), only pleasure.

    3. If you feel yourself nearing “the point of no return” back off,
    and/or have your wife apply the Semans procedure, aka “squeeze”,
    “pinch” procedure. A firm (not painful) “pinch” to the head
    of your penis. Then when you are able continue “pleasuring” each
    other. This will allow you to experience having erections for longer and longer

    For LOTS MORE information you can go here



  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please also check out my associated blog post Watermelon for Erectile Dysfunction!

  • Manish Jain

    Dr.Greger,  I have read that Citryline is found in the rind of Watermelon and not watermelon. Is this true?

  • robert

    dear Doc if Citruline is in watermelon that boost the NO. to improve ED what about buying Citruline at your local Health food store. (when out of season) and (is it better ?) would it work the same or are their many other components to consider.

  • lovestobevegan

    Let the Sparks Fly

    – 1 watermelon

    Cut fresh watermelon into mouthwatering wedges and reminisce about your childhood.

    Bookmark my new Plant-Based Emporium Facebook page for all my latest recipes.

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan

  • TobiasBrown

    As manish mentioned, it seems that it’s better to eat both the rind and skin, as, evidently, 90 of the nutrient value lies there. True? Anyway. I’ve found that this juices up quite well in the Vitamix, though I don’t use all of the rind. Removing some seems to make for a tastier drink. This is quite a pleasant drink though adding something might do wonders for it.

  • CharlesSecond

    Isn’t it better to eat beets to get nitric oxide? rather than citruline in watermelon? and is arginine supplementation as good as citruline supplementation?

  • Walter Mellon

    Does that study involve eating the seeds too ?

  • Sebastian Tristan

    Isn’t Arugula the richest sources of NO?

  • Michael Douglass

    Interesting article pertaining to the watermelon cultivar/variety and citrulline concentration. 56 different varieties of different flesh color, pollination type, and across 2 locations with multiple samples of each were examined for citrulline levels. (sorry for the incorrect citation)…
    HORTSCIENCE46(12):1572–1575. 2011
    Conclusion: “There was no correlation between L-citrulline concentration and watermelon type (open-pollinatedor F1 hybrid) or color (red, orange,salmon yellow, or white).”