Aphrodisiacs — named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, can be described as any food, drink, or any other thing that stimulates sexual desire. Aphrodisiacs can be classed into 3 functions:
- To increase libido or sexual desire,
- To improve sexual potency i.e. the ability to carry out and consummate sexual intercourse,
- To intensify sexual pleasure
Fun fact, cannabis was used in ancient India from the 7th century onwards as an aid to sexual pleasure and enlightenment, but it's said it wasn't smoked but used to make a drink called bhang.
Before we get into the herbs, let’s talk about 5 key libido killers:
When stressed, pretty much everything shuts down. Studies show that stress related to sexual performance may interfere with sexual arousal. So stop putting so much pressure on yourself, this goes to both men and women. Practice relaxation and coping strategies. Watch this video to learn a few of these techniques.
Body fat is linked to libido and having a too high or too low BMI can affect your mojo. During the process of losing weight your hormonal balance may be affected, so say no crash diets. Research shows that this link is related to body confidence. One way to beat this is to exercise and release feel good hormones such as endorphins and dopamine, as these are also believed to affect sex drive.
As you would expect the prolonged consumption of alcohol or cigarettes can kill libido. But lack of sleep, poor diet,and lack of exercise can also contribute to low libido levels.
Low confidence and self esteem
This is important for everyone. Instead of focusing on what could go wrong, attempt to shift your focus and be present in the moment. Create open spaces with your partner and friends to have open conversations.
Deficiencies can kill libido. Vitamin D deficiencies can lower a women’s sex drive because it can bring on low estrogen levels, and it can also make you feel moody or feel low. For men, low vitamin D levels mean low testosterone and that too equals a low libido. Other nutrients to keep topped up include Vitamin A, E, Thiamin, and Niacin (which is good for blood flow to the extremities), zinc and omega 3 fatty acids
In reality, anything that makes you happier and confident can act as an aphrodisiac.
Herbs can play a role in boosting your sex drive whilst introducing these lifestyle changes. Here are 4 herbs that you need to rev up your sex life.
1. Maca Root
Maca root has traditionally been used to enhance fertility and sex drive. It's also claimed to improve energy and stamina. This herb is beneficial to both men and women in terms of increasing libido.
In one study, postmenopausal women reported they had less anxiety and depression and higher sex drive. Maca may also help women struggling to achieve orgasm through enhancing sensation.
For men, it’s dubbed ‘nature’s Viagra’. In one study, Men aged 21-56 years received Maca in one of two doses: 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg or placebo. By week 8, An improvement in sexual desire was observed.
This herb has been shown to help with mood, motivation and energy, which can help how one feels, thus how one performs.
2. Epimedium (Horny Goat Weed)
The second herb is for both men and women. It’s called Epimedium or horny goat weed. This herb has been used as an aphrodisiac and is helpful for treating erectile dysfunction.
For women, studies show that having higher levels of estrogen in the body promotes vaginal lubrication and increases sexual desire.
3. Panax Ginseng
Studies show that ginseng may help with erectile dysfunction for men. One of the reasons for this is that ginseng was shown to help with nitric oxide release in men. Nitric oxide is involved in many cell processes, including the widening of the blood vessels and it’s needed for the muscles in the penis to relax.
This relaxation allows chambers inside the penis to fill with blood so the penis becomes erect.
The last herb is Sarsaparilla and is beneficial for both men and women. The herb contains substances known as phytosterols which are similar to testosterone and may stimulate the activity of sexual hormones in the body.
This action may be helpful in curing impotence and enhancing sex drive among men by optimizing the action of male sex hormones. Among women, sarsaparilla is thought to stimulate the production of progesterone, the lack of which may be responsible for depressed libido.
5. Bonus: Ginger
A bonus herb is ginger, ginger can improve blood flow and circulation naturally. Not only does this improve heart and vein health but it also improves sexual performance and the ability to orgasm.