For various reasons, a decreased desire for sex may be experienced by both males and females, and is often cause for concern to those experiencing decreasing libido. The problem can originate with either the mind and emotions; or from physical issues such as lack of lubrication or blood flow to the genitals. There are a number of herbal products on the market which claim to increase libido, and it's important to know what, if any, information actually supports the claims of some of these products. In particular, there are a number of herbal teas marketed for this purpose. Typically they contain more than one herb in combination. The ingredients contained in these products have different mechanisms for acting on libido, so if you are not entirely sure what the origin for lessened sex drive is for you, consider trying several to determine benefit.
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There are two varieties of ginseng which can be used to heighten and restore flagging male libido. While the Chinese variety is traditionally recommended, the variety primarily used in animal studies is American ginseng. It seems to ramp up sexual drive by changing the effect of dopamine on the brain.
American and Chinese ginseng were shown in a Southern Illinois University of Medicine study to increase both sexual response and sexual desire in animals. Ginsenoside in the ginseng root is the theorized stimulator of increase in sexuality. Ginsenoside is known in males to facilitate erections.
Horny Goat Weed
While you might feel embarrassed to add this one to your grocery cart, the herb Horny Goat Weed, Epimedium grandiflorum, is known to have positive effects on the libido for both men and women. This herb is known as Yin Yang Huo in Traditional Chinese Medicine.The active ingredient in Horny Goat Weed is called icariin, which seems to stimulate blood flow and pressure to the penis and clitoris according to the ACS Journal of Natural Products.
Researchers in Italy report that horny goat weed, when exposed to an enzyme that controls blood flow to the penis and whose results in an erection, provided the most pronounced effect of that enzyme. By modifying the active ingredient purified from the extract, the scientists were able to create a formulation which acted much like Viagra.
You can buy the dried herb and brew the tea yourself simmering a handful of dried leaves for 15 minutes in about four cups of pure water. Drink two cups per day. It will take a few days to notice the effects.
Maca is thought to work by normalizing sex hormone levels. A study published in Urology, April 2000, confirmed the effects of Maca. After using 2,000 mg daily, participants claimed a significant increase in libido, more frequent sexual activity, and better sexual function. It also seems to increase male fertility. While there are thought to be positive effects for both women and men, it has only been tested thus far on men. Arizona physician Gary F. Gordon, M.D., former president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine calls maca "nature's Viagra". It is important to note that effects were by no means immediate- it took two months for these benefits to kick in!
Ashwaganda is thought to work much like of GABA, which increases nitric oxide formulation and augments blood vessel dilation. One study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center found that ashwaganda restricts the amount of nerve cells that fire in the brain in a way very much like GABA, helping to quell anxiety and boost mood.
Ashwagandha is also thought to be an adaptogen, a natural plant component which builds general immunity and enhances stress resistance. It has been used for hundreds of years in India in the practice of ayurvedic medicine. One aphrodisiac formula combines one part ashwagandha with milk and ghee, or clarified butter.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Natural Herbal Remedies: American Ginseng and its Many Healing Benefits
- Alive: Libido-Enhancing Products
- Digital Naturopath: Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
- Medicine Hunter: Ashwagandha
- Inmedweb: The Birds and the Bees, Geriatric-Style
- The Health Professional's Guide to Dietary Supplements: Supplements for "Male" and "Female" Health
- HealthMad: Ginseng Root: The "all-heal Man root" of Chinese and American Indian Medicine
- Science Daily: Natural Viagra? 'Horny Goat Weed' Shows Promise