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Top 11 Herbs For Sex

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Herbs For Sex

Make the most of your sexual wellness, and explore what you need to know before taking sex herbs, the essential holistic sexual tools for great sex. Also, see what herbs offer the best sexually enhancing properties.

Sexual Enhancers

People use sexual enhancers such as herbs, vitamins, food, and medications to improve sex drive, sexual pleasure, and sexual performance. Before using anything to enhance your sex life, you should be educated about the potential health risks, proper dosing, contraindications, and impacts on preexisting health conditions.

Check with your physician or pharmacist before taking any supplement or medication as it is critical to ensure that you will not jeopardize your health. Remember not to let marketing hype work you up into buying something that is not right for you, which may be dangerous even if you do not have known health issues.

Talk With Your Doctor Before You Take Herbs

Always discuss herbal supplements with a doctor that knows about them and/or your sexual health even if you feel you are healthy, and you want to take them for increased sexual performance or pleasure. Factors such as your age, medications you take, and other aspects of your health may help determine if taking herbal supplements are specific safe and healthy for you. Just because other people take them without issues does not necessarily mean that you can.

This is especially important if you have sexual health issues, and when sexual performance issues are repetitive. Sexual problems can be a flag that something more serious is going on. It is essential to rule out any sexual health conditions that may impact your overall health. Keep in mind that sexual concerns are prevalent, and there is no shame in advocating for your health.

Good Sex For Older Adults

A common misperception is when people assume that an unsatisfying sex life is just part of aging. In reality, many older adults enjoy a pleasurable sex life full of vitality and creativity. Taking care of your health is vital, so taking the right vitamins and supplements, eating a healthy diet, exercise, and stress reduction are all important.

Ruling Out Sexual Dysfunction

The most common mistake people make when discovering that they are struggling with sexual performance issues is that they can lose a sense of self-worth. Yet, most people experience sexual problems at some point in their lives due to related health challenges from hormones, aging, stress, emotional trauma, medications, poor nutrition, diabetes, heart conditions, and cancer. Make sure that you are educated about your health before embracing any treatment plan.

While it is essential to nurture your feelings, please know that it is nothing to feel ashamed about. You are not alone; you are worthy of pleasure and being nurtured, so let's explore some ways that you can do that.

Important Health Factors For Good Sex

The most significant things that affect most people's sexual functioning are hormones, blood circulation, medications, psychological health and

Below are the best holistic approaches to enhancing your sex life:

The Basics

  • Healthy Diet
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Physical Activity
  • Reduce Stress Levels
  • Avoid Unhealthy Habits (Alcohol, Cigarettes, etc.)
  • Sex Education

Optional

Additional Options

  • Mange Disease (Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Diabetes, etc.)
  • Prescriptions To Manage Health Issues
  • Review Medication Side-effects

You should not suffer in silence or become complacent about your inability to enjoy sex. There are many solutions, and taking charge of this part of your life takes your desire to address it.

Sexual Herbs

Sexual herbs can help increase both libido and sexual performance; here is a list of some that have been linked to improved sexual experiences.


Tribulus

Research shows that tribulus (tribulus terrestris) can improve sexual dysfunction or low sexual desire for men and women. Specifically, it may enhance sexual desire, ability to reach orgasm, arousal, sensation, lubrication, and sexual comfort. Tribulus is a plant that has been used to treat sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction. It has also been used to increase sexual desire and evoke a release of semen without orgasm. It has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and was first used in the west in the 1960s by Olympic teams to enhance athletic performance.

The Bulgarian pharmaceutical company Sopharma determined that tribulus could increase sperm production and improve motility and survival, and increase libido. Another study that was conducted with male pigs showed that tribulus was found to be 100% effective in treating impotence. After only ten days of treatment, 71% of the pigs were completely able to perform sexually. By the end of the study, all of the pigs were sexually active. Other studies have shown tribulus to be effective in treating menopause in women as it helps to balance hormones and, in particular, increases testosterone levels.

Tribulus should only be taken in supplement form as serious lung problems have been linked to eating the fruit. It also interferes with the drugs lithium and Antidiabetes drugs, so you should avoid using this herb if you take those.

It has very few medical concerns; the main ones are that pregnant women should not take it since it may harm fetal development due to hormonal influences. Some in the medical profession have also expressed concerns that it may negatively affect prostate cancer patients, increasing prostate weight. It is not recommended to take two weeks before any surgery due to the possibility of it affecting blood sugar levels.

Other side effects are typically mild and uncommon but may include cramping, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, excitation, difficulty sleeping, or heavy menstrual bleeding. In rare cases, reports of kidney damage.


Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is an herb known for improved mental functioning, but it is also suitable for enhanced erections and sex drive. Many studies have shown ginkgo to increase blood flow through small vessels effectively, thus positively benefiting those with arterial erectile dysfunction issues. In particular, one study showed significant improvement within eight weeks when the men who have arterial erectile dysfunction took 60 mg of ginkgo daily.

Gingko does interact with various medications, so it is essential to discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if you can take it with things you are currently taking or plan to take, including ibuprofen. Taking the two of them can decrease your ability to control bleeding as it can prevent your blood from properly clotting. Examples of other medications it does not work well with are Plavix, Voltaren, Anaprox, Fragmin, Lovenox, Coumadin, and others.


Choline & Vitamin B-5

Choline is similar to B vitamins in that it is made in the liver and found in foods that we eat daily, such as meat, beans, spinach, eggs, wheat germ, nuts, and peas. It impacts sexual functioning by aiding the brain's ability to send impulses through the spinal cord and the nerves connected to the genitals. These brain impulses allow for nitric oxide production, which helps both the penis and the clitoris dilate, relax, and become encouraged with blood. It has been shown through a variety of studies to increase sexual arousal levels in both men and women and increase contractions during orgasm, thus intensifying them.

When taken in recommended doses, it is safe to consume. Taking choline with vitamin B-5 or just vitamin B-5 by itself about 30 minutes before sex will help you experience the full effect. If you take both at the same time and experience muscle tension, discontinue use for a couple of days and the next time you take it, decrease your dosage. Choline's recommended dose is 3.5 grams, and vitamin B-5 is 5 mg for a moderate amount. There may be health concerns when taken in high doses, such as diarrhea and vomiting, so it is always good to start with lower dosages.


Arginine

Arginine is an essential amino acid and is a building block of proteins in the body. It is often seen in supplements and referred to as L-arginine. It is used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) as well as male infertility. Positive effects have also been seen when used for female sexual dysfunction. L-arginine converts into nitric oxide, which assists the blood vessels by improving blood flow. L-arginine also releases growth hormones and insulin in the body. Take L-arginine for 45 minutes before sex for increased sex drive and performance.

There are very few possible side effects: abdominal bloating and discomfort, diarrhea, allergies, low blood pressure, and blood abnormalities, such as low blood pressure. Those who have herpes may find it makes an outbreak worse, so it is discouraged for those who have it. Also, if you have had a recent heart attack, you may want to avoid using L-arginine as it may increase your chances of having another one due to its effect on blood pressure.


Maca

Maca (Peruvian ginseng) is a South American root vegetable. This herb has been linked to reducing symptoms in perimenopausal and menopausal women by balancing estrogen levels. In turn, it may help with vaginal lubrication. It has also been suggested to increase sex drive, particularly with those who take antidepressants and have low libido from them. Avoid maca if you have estrogen-sensitive cancer or other condition because it could raise your estrogen levels.

Maca stimulates the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal, and ovarian glands, affecting the thyroid and pineal glands. Maca can improve mood, sleep, fertility, energy levels and reduce hot flashes.


Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a legume and is associated with increased sex drive. In the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology International, a study found that post-menopausal women who took 80 mg of red clover isoflavones over 90 days had improved libido, sleep, mood, and energy levels. It has also shown the potential to improve bone health and cardiovascular function.


Propionyl-L-carnitine

Propionyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid that influences metabolism and improves blood flow. It may help sildenafil (Viagra) more effective for men who have erectile dysfunction or diabetes. One study showed that adding 2 grams of propionyl-L-carnitine per day to viagra provided results. Side effects may include nausea, chest pain, vomiting, and stomach upset and make your body smell like fish.


Niacin

Niacin is a B vitamin that increases "good" cholesterol levels. Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) who take 1,500 milligrams of niacin for 12 weeks may see improvements based on one study. 


Fenugreek

Fenugreek contains compounds that the body can use to make sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Due to its influence on sex hormones, it may interfere with the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers and may interact with blood-thinning medications.

In studies on both men and women, increased sexual arousal and orgasms were reported when having taken 600 mg per day for six-eight weeks. 


Saffron

Saffron is an expensive spice derived from the Crocus sativus flower and has been used by some to reduce stress, treat depression, and enhance mood. It has also been thought of as a potential aphrodisiac, particularly in people taking antidepressants.

In one study, men who took 30 mg of saffron per day for four weeks had improvements in erectile function, and in a follow-up study, women had higher levels of arousal and increased lubrication.

Sexual Herbs That May Not Be Safe

Yohimbine / Yohimbe

Yohimbe supplements are made from the tree bark of the yohimbe tree (Pausinystalia Yohimbe) grown in West Africa. Yohimbe bark is typically 6% alkaloids, of which about 10-15% are yohimbine hydrochloride, the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). Only the bark contains the active ingredient, which is often used in herbal Viagra® formulas. Since the introduction of Viagra, Yohimbine is very rarely prescribed to treat impotence.

Yohimbine provides an increase in sensation to the genitals and assists with longer and harder erections. Yohimbine is known to help counteract the sexual inhibiting effects of antidepressants. Studies have shown that yohimbine increases norepinephrine (a sexually supportive chemical in the body) by up to 66 percent. It has also been used for high blood pressure, weight loss, and athletic performance.

What The FDA Has to Say About Yohimbe

At present, yohimbe is on the FDA's supplement ingredients of concern warning list and is under investigation by the FDA.

Source: FDA "Illnesses and Injuries Associated With the Use of Selected Dietary Supplements" Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe).

Because yohimbe is marketed in several products for bodybuilding and enhanced male performance, it is essential to understand some serious adverse effects, including renal failure, seizures, and death reported to the FDA with products containing yohimbe.

The primary identified alkaloid in yohimbe is yohimbine, a chemical that causes vasodilatation, thereby lowering blood pressure. Yohimbine is also a prescription drug in the United States with side effects that are well recognized and may include central nervous system stimulation that causes anxiety attacks. At high doses, yohimbine is a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor. MAO inhibitors can cause serious adverse effects when taken concomitantly with tyramine-containing foods (e.g., liver, cheeses, red wine) or over-the-counter (OTC) products containing phenylpropanolamine, such as nasal decongestants and diet aids.

Individuals taking yohimbe should be warned to avoid these foods and OTC products rigorously because of the increased likelihood of adverse effects. Yohimbe should also be avoided by individuals with hypotension (low blood pressure), diabetes, heart, liver, or kidney disease. Overdosage symptoms include weakness and nervous stimulation followed by paralysis, fatigue, stomach disorders, and ultimately death.

There are some noted health concerns when it comes to these extracts when taken orally. However, there are conflicting studies regarding this herbal extract, and it is still unclear whether it may be safe to take orally. Some rare yet severe side effects have been increased heart rate, heart attack, kidney failure, and others. That is why health professionals always prefer lower doses with an average of about 15-30 mg daily of yohimbine. While people have used up to 100 mg of yohimbine daily, that may be too high of a dose to be safe to use.

Aphrodisiac Foods

There are many who claim that foods contain aphrodisiac properties, but it is challenging to recommend many as there is not enough scientific evidence to support these claims. Here are some popular examples:


Chocolate

Compounds in cacao are often touted to have an aphrodisiac effect, based on two chemicals that it contains. The first is tryptophan, which stimulates serotonin in the brain, which is associated with sexual arousal. Phenylethylamine is a stimulant in chocolate related to amphetamines and is the chemical released in the brain when people fall in love.


Oysters

Oysters are rich in zinc, which aids in testosterone and sperm production. Because of their high zinc levels, they can boost dopamine, which may boost libido in both men and women.


Alcohol

Alcohol may help one relax and get in the mood; however, high alcohol consumption can reduce arousal and sexual function. Also, see our guide on Wine & Chocolate.

What's Next?

Now that you have explored herbs for sexual enhancement, make sure to see our helpful Nutrition Guide for Good Sex & Health Guide and Holistic Weight Loss For Better Health & Sex Guide.

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