Sexual health is important for both men and women and an active sex life has many overall benefits. Sexually active adults usually have stronger immune systems and having more sex actually increases libido. Women find an additional benefit as having frequent sex improves bladder control; something that becomes increasingly more important as they age. The physical activity involved in having an active sex life leads to better overall health with specific benefits of lowering the blood pressure and decreasing the risk of heart attack. A healthy sex life also improves sleep quality and eases stress.
Many environmental things can have a detrimental effect of a healthy sex life. A poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption or recreational drug use, and high levels of stress are all known to impact intimacy. A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, plenty of rest, and moderate physical activity will serve as a solid foundation for adults who wish to stay sexually active. Yet, there are times when other factors lead to a limited or total stoppage of intimacy between couples; these can be diseases, surgery, or high levels of anxiety or stress.
This article takes a brief look at three major issues that can be treated naturally with herbal products. They are low libido, erectile dysfunction, and a lack of sexual stamina. Each section describes the symptoms and how treatments differ for men and women. Due to the amount of information, the descriptions are brief and should be used as a starting point for couples seeking herbal solutions to improve their sex life.
Low libido has been described as a general decreased interest in any type of sexual activity; no sex life. It’s more than just a few days of no interest, but a long-term issue, which if left untreated could lead to divorce or a breakup between partners. If it lasts for a very long time, it could also be an indication of a larger health issue.
In men, low libido can be caused by many different things. The most common reason is low testosterone, the hormone that makes men, men. When testosterone decreases, such as in old age, so does the sex drive. But when testosterone decreases in a younger man, it can lead to low libido. Also taking certain medications or drugs can lower a man’s libido. Additionally, stress, excess alcohol consumption, and a lack of exercise can lead to low libido.
In women, low libido is often caused by sexual problems such as vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, or from issues related to surgery or childbirth. Like men, women also can suffer from low libido due to medication usage, stress, fatigue, and medical diseases such as diabetes. Also lifestyle choices such as heavy alcohol consumption and drug use can lower a woman’s libido. Menopause and breast feeding also can be culprits of low libido.
Herbs Recommended For Low Libido
Herbal treatments have shown different levels of success when it comes to reversing the effects of low libido. Some are more effective for either men or women, but not always both. Libido is the driving force behind a healthy sex life, as it is the catalyst for getting things started; basically it’s what makes us horny, as human beings.
For men, the following herbs are recommended:
Panax Ginseng – This type of ginseng acts as a circulatory stimulant, increasing blood flow, and is said to improve libido.
Horny Goat Weed – For centuries, Horny Goat Weed has been prescribed to improve low libido and sexual performance. The herb supports the neurotransmitters in the brain which stimulate sexual arousal.
Tongkat Ali (also known as Longjack) – This herb increases testosterone in the blood. It is traditionally prescribed in some countries as an aphrodisiac, an herbal treatment for impotence (erectile dysfunction) and as an overall sexual enhancer. It is proven to help maintaining an erection and to increase libido.
Maca – If you are taking anti-depressants, then you should think about Maca. Many prescription drugs destroy libido, but this herb will counter-balance the effects.
Saw palmetto – This herb is primarily used for treating enlarged prostrate gland (BPH) in men. It’s also been used to treat low sex drive and low sperm count by stopping the breakdown of testosterone into its byproduct, dihydrotestosterone, helping the male body hold on to more of its testosterone.
Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha has a long history in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac. Modern science supports that reputation, and that it may be a natural herbal alternative treatment for loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. Research shows that ashwagandha can stimulate production of DHEA, a precursor to testosterone.
For women the following herbs are recommended:
Black Cohosh – Black cohosh is very good for treating low libido. It also has a very high level of phytoestrogens. It is also thought to improve both lubrication and vaginal sensation.
Cacao – Cacao is high in phenylethylamine, which inspires feelings of love and excitement, while theobromine increases joy-inducing serotonin.
Fennel – Fennel is full of phytoestrogens, which help to replace lost estrogen during menopause. It has been used since Ancient Egyptian times by women experiencing menopausal hormonal shifts, and still in wide use today.
Garlic – A standby for nearly everything, garlic is known to increase blood flow to the vaginal area. This increased blood flow improves lubrication and sensitivity, making sex a more pleasurable experience.
Ginko Biloba – Increases blood flow and has a relaxant effect on smooth muscle tissue; both processes are important to the sexual response for women.
Kava Root – Kava has a tranquilizing effect, which relaxes nerve endings and anxiety. This relaxing effect is amplified in the vaginal area and allows for easier penetration.
Wild Yam – The phytosterols found in wild yams are the precursors to modern-day sex hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. It can jump-start the libido by increasing estrogen in the body.
Yohimbe Bark – The bark of this West African tree contains the powerful alkaloid yohimbine. This active compound, when combined with the amino acid L-arginine signals the brain to help stimulate arousal. The alkaloids also increase blood circulation to the vaginal area, which improves the overall feeling of arousal to the point of orgasm.
Herbs that are successful for both men and women:
Damiana – The number one benefit of Damiana is that it reduces stress, which we all know blocks our ability to get aroused. Damiana has been used to increase libido in both sexes for centuries. It is known to increase testosterone levels.
Tribulus – increases testosterone production by stimulating the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone, in turn, increases testosterone levels and enhances not only libido in men but also increases libido in women. Women with a low libido often have low levels of testosterone in their bodies.
Erectile Dysfunction or ED, is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual practices. ED can be caused by many different environmental or psychological factors. Many diseases cause ED, especially diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure/hypertension, kidney diseases, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. It can also be linked to Psychological or mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, or hormone imbalances. Furthermore ED can be caused by stress, old age, obesity, high cholesterol, sleep disorders, and lifestyle choices. Choices such as using recreational drugs, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use can be contributing factors which can be detrimental to your sex life.
Maintaining a solid erection has everything to do with blood flow and nitric acid. When a man becomes sexually stimulated, the muscles in the penis relax, which causes blood to flow into the arteries in the shaft, filling two chambers, which expand the penis until it is rigid. After ejaculation or the loss of stimulation, those muscles contract and the blood flow reverses and the penis grows softer once again. Moderate to vigorous exercise can be a big help in treating ED as it keeps you healthy, but also keeps testosterone production high. Yoga, Tai Chi or other relaxation exercises can be helpful also as they help to bring the body into a state of natural relaxation and reduce stress.
Many products, both natural or pharmaceutical, claim to be able to ‘correct’ erectile dysfunction. The prescription drugs that are most commonly taken for ED are Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis. They are taken orally and are generally effective, but come with varying side-effects.
Maca – this herb can help men with mild ED. It also can be used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostrate which can be connected to ED as well. Also, maca can improve your chances of impregnation as it increases sperm count as well as mobility and overall volume.
Tongkat Ali – Those who take this herb regularly have reported more frequent erections and delayed ejaculation, with some men actually reporting unexpected or undesired erections. It is used by older men to help support male sexual health issues that change with ageing. Like Maca, this herb helps with fertility also by increasing sperm mobility.
Yohimbe Bark – Yohimbe is considered a good replacement for prescription ED medications. It is considered one of the best natural ways to treat ED due to its ability to quickly dilate blood vessels and stimulates the nerve endings of the penis.
Cocao – Dark Chocolate is rich in flavanoids which increase blood flow and the concentration of nitric acid in the bloodstream.
Pistachios – Aside from improving blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels, regular consumption of pistachios will help to improve several parameters of ED.
Watermelon – Although not an herb, it’s worth including the fact that watermelon contains a compound called citrulline which helps to relax blood vessels. It also improves blood flow, much like ED medications do.
Stamina, sometimes called endurance or sexual potency, is important for men, both from a performance standpoint and for self-esteem. In this section we identify herbs which are useful for general stamina and ones that are useful to treat symptoms of premature ejaculation (PE).
Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual problem for men under the age of 40. There are varying degrees of PE, with some severe cases occurring before intercourse even begins. This can be a major problem for intimacy and can lead to break-up or sever depression if not treated. The causes of PE are not known. Some of the possible reasons are being studied for a link. These include mental sabotage (thinking about it too much leads to reality), depression, infections, sexual exploitation, unresponsive neural transmitters, or thyroid issues.
Horny Goat Weed – Known to enhance sexual performance and increase testosterone. The herb supports the neurotransmitters in the brain which stimulate sexual arousal.
Velvet Bean (Mucuna pruriens) – Velvet beans are known to boost testosterone and raise dopamine levels; a double benefit. Dopamine inhibits prolactin production in the body, which in high levels causes weak erections. It also promotes fertility and increases sperm count.
Maca – Use to promote fertility and sexual performance in both men and women. It’s also being studied in relation to depression, a known cause of poor performance in the bedroom.
Kava – This herb increases blood flow to the penis and slows reaction to increased sexual stimulation, therefore helping you maintain erection longer and delaying ejaculation.
Hibiscus Flower – This herb helps relieve stress and promotes romantic sexual feelings which increases the ability to maintain erection and better control ejaculation.
Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine for men to better control ejaculation.
Oat Straw – The main benefit of this herb is it’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety in men, which is one of the reasons why it is used for PE. It also increases energy and helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Saffron – This herb contains many carotenoids, which are in the form of B-carotenes, lycopene, a-carotenes, and zeaxanthin. Saffron also contains the key minerals, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc, all of which are important for the treatment of premature ejaculation.
The information contained in this analysis is based on historical knowledge and the recommendations may not work for every individual. It is highly recommended that each person do their own research and testing, to determine if the herbal solutions are effective for them. Additionally, using herbs and herbal products are most effective when taken in the correct dosages. Consult your doctor or a naturopath for guidance on how much to take and how often.