Men and women have used anaphrodisiacs--herbs that suppress the libido--for centuries. In antiquity, priests, nuns and soldiers would take anaphrodisiacs to curb sexual desire during times of temptation. Today, some people take libido-suppressing herbs before an exam, date, job interview or presentation, hoping to prevent distracting thoughts or physical signs of arousal. Herbs that suppress the libido have been the subject of very limited clinical study, and none has been scientifically proven to decrease sexual desire. Consult your health care provider before taking any medicinal herb.
Also known as monk's pepper, chasteberry owes its name to its historic popularity as an anaphrodisiac for monks and priests. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, monks in the Middle Ages used this medicinal herb to promote chastity and curb sexual response. Chasteberry may increase sex drive in women while decreasing sex drive in men; more studies are needed to confirm its effects.
Dr. Franklin D. Lewis, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Emory University, reports that camphor aromatherapy was used in Persian folk medicine to reduce sexual response. Camphor, a heavily scented wax derived from evergreen trees in the laurel family, is now used in as an ingredient in over-the-counter medicinal products, such as Vick's Vaporub. A small amount of a camphor-infused product can be placed under the nose or on the chest; this may help to ease muscle tension and reduce sexual desire. Note that camphor causes an intense burning sensation if it is placed on a sensitive area, such as the lips or genitals; its toxicity also makes it unsafe for oral ingestion.
Hops, commonly used as an ingredient in beer, may help to reduce sex drive. Herbalists Kathleen Brown and Jeanine Pollak note that hops were historically used to curb sexual desire in sexually deviant men. Today, this sedative herb may contribute to beer's reputed anaphrodisiac qualities. However, no modern scientific studies have evaluated this traditional association.