Approximately 30 to 45 percent of men and women have had sexual dysfunction, and 36 percent report low libido. Stress, cardiometabolic health, medication side effects, depression, and other issues are often at play, which may warrant professional diagnosis and care. Nonetheless, many herbs can help bring back that lovin’ feelin’.
Get the Heart Pumping & Blood Flowing
Sexual function relies heavily on adequate blood flow to the genitals, but circulation issues are most apparent in erectile dysfunction. Get a full cardiovascular assessment to identify and address early warning signs of disease like atherosclerosis.
Alongside a plant-rich diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, consider heart tonic and circulation-enhancing herbs and foods like hawthorn, garlic, ginger, and low doses of cayenne and rosemary for general support. Watch for herb-drug interactions and seek the guidance of a healthcare professional if you have cardiovascular disease.
Ditch the Stress to Increase Vitality & Virility
Nothing kills the mood quite like stress, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. Mood boosters are individual and can include lifestyle
changes, adequate sleep, regular exercise, specific nutrients (vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins), therapy, and a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables that balances blood sugar.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root acts as an adaptogen, improving resistance to stress while also boosting mood and easing anxiety and insomnia. Ashwagandha also supports sexual function, fertility, and libido. It enhances testosterone and sperm health. A pilot study on sexual function in women found that taking 300 milligrams of ashwagandha extract capsules twice daily for eight weeks improved arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction compared to placebo.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) boosts mood and energy while enhancing sexual vitality. It’s helpful in middle age to maintain vitality and virility. Several studies support its ability to boost desire and sexual function, including in postmenopausal women, in antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, in erectile dysfunction, and in healthy adults. Maca may also support fertility, sperm count and motility, and prostate health.
Alongside maca and ashwagandha, other herbs have the reputation more specifically for libido. In Mexico, calming and uplifting damiana (Turnera diffusa) leaves and
flowers form the base of a libidinous cordial, and the herb can also be incorporated into tea, liquid extract, or pills. It’s traditionally used in all genders and may work partly via the nitric oxide pathway. Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris), meanwhile, has stimulating and testosterone-like effects on libido and sexual function in erectile dysfunction and perimenopause.
Also rule out and address underlying deficiencies in zinc or iron, which may reduce libido and sexual function. Traditional aphrodisiac mussels and oysters are naturally abundant in both minerals.
Stronger libido herbs include horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.), red Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides and Croton echioides), and yohimbe, but they may not be necessary and are difficult to source from reputable companies via ethical harvesting methods. Adulteration and illegal poaching of wild stands are common. Yohimbe has considerable side effects on par with Viagra.
Use Caution with Libido Supplements
Be aware that the libido supplement industry is the worst sector of dietary supplements in terms of adulteration, often with undeclared drug ingredients, unsubstantiated claims, and unsafe ingredients. Seek quality products from stores and companies you can trust including natural food stores, co-ops, herbalist-run shops, and brands such as Mountain Rose Herbs, Gaia Herbs, Oregon’s Wild Harvest, Herb Pharm, Herbalist & Alchemist, and Wise Woman Herbs.