Is watermelon really like Viagra?

A recent study by the University of Texas, which has been quoted and re-published in dozens of online articles, suggests that fresh and delicious watermelon might have Viagra-like properties. Of course, many websites were quick to blow the news out of proportion, writing that instead of taking ED medications one can achieve the same effect by eating a few slices of watermelon. Here at My Canadian Pharmacy, we do not spread misinformation: whenever we receive a new sensational report, we check and recheck the data before we present it to our readers. Does watermelon really work like Viagra? Let us investigate.

What research results really mean

Researchers from the University of Texas do indeed write that watermelon contains a very promising phytonutrient called L-citrullin, which can boost the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter normally released by the brain when the man is sexually aroused (as you  may know, Viagra and other ED drugs require sexual arousal to work). Nitric oxide produced in the corpus cavernosum of the penis, in turn, stimulates the release of cGMP – a chemical that helps relax the smooth muscle of the penis. Corpus cavernosum is like a sponge: it is full of tiny cavities, which can fill with blood, causing the penis to swell and rise. That’s what erection is: brain triggers the production of nitric oxide, which stimulates the release of cGMP, and that relaxes the muscles and allows blood to flow. So why do some men suffer from erectile dysfunction? You see, there is another chemical – the enzyme called PDE5 – which blocks cGMP, preventing blood from entering the “sponge” of the corpus cavernosum.

What does watermelon do, then? L-citrullin we mentioned before can trigger the production of nitric oxide, thus doing the job of sexual arousal. That can potentially boost cGMP, too, but here is the catch – the block represented by PDE5 is still there! As long as PDE5 is active, it will not allow cGMP to function, and proper strong erection will not occur.

The action principle of Viagra is different. It does not boost the production of nitric oxide (sexual arousal does that part of the job). It inhibits PDE5. This way, cGMP can function properly, ensuring the blood flow to the penis. Can watermelon do that? No.

Partially true claims

As you can see, watermelon is definitely not like Viagra in the strict sense. However, the study underlying the original report did suggest that consumption of L-citrulline can help men suffering from mild ED (know more about L-Citrulline and ED). In the study, 24 men took citrulline supplement pills every day for a month. As a result, they reported an improvement in mild symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Note that the study did not include eating actual watermelon, but rather taking pills containing the extracted chemical (which, by the way, is also found in beans, lentils, and fish). To get the same amount of citrulline from fresh watermelons, one would need to eat a whole lot of it!

“Viagra” made of watermelon rind?

 

Many online articles specifically recommend to use watermelon rind juice to make a natural Viagra-like drink. It is true that  concentrations of L-citrulline are higher in the rind. Contrary to popular belief, watermelon rind is fully edible and actually contains good quantities of vitamins and other nutrients. While it may not be tasty in its raw form, try adding some lime juice and cayenne pepper. Alternatively, you can make jams with watermelon rinds or pickle them. In any case, it is a healthy product, just like any fruit and veg; unfortunately, if you expect Viagra-like effect, you will be disappointed. As we have already said, men suffering from true ED need to have the PDE5 issue solved – and that citrulline cannot do.

Stick to scientifically proven treatment

We have seen that claims of miraculous erection-producing powers of watermelon are certainly inflated: it might help somewhat if one’s ED is slight, but it definitely is not “Nature’s Viagra”. It’s worth trying if you cannot take real ED drugs for some reason (for example, if you suffer from low blood pressure).