by Ashley Tibbits
You’ve heard the theories — from eating oysters to chocolate-covered strawberries — that there are some things you can consume that will naturally boost your sex drive. Some of them may sound (and probably are) pretty far-fetched, but there’s actually truth to the general concept of herbal aphrodisiacs — they just might not be the herbs you’ve heard of.
It first may be helpful to consider exactly what an “aphrodisiac” is. In a study by Indian educational institute Jamia Hamdard, the term is defined as “any food or drug that arouses the sexual instinct, induces venereal desire, and increases pleasure and performance.” And the belief that libido boosters occur naturally in herbs, foods, and animal products (like rhinoceros horn and toxic Spanish fly) has existed for centuries all over the world. Anecdotal research has proved varying degrees of success for such aphrodisiacs, but it’s safe to say that there’s no magic dust for better sex.
However, what we do know about sexual performance is that it can be dramatically affected by environmental factors, including stress, diet, exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle habits. And therefore, a truly effective aphrodisiac would be something that’s able to improve upon some of these areas, such as by offering reduced stress or increased energy, for example.
If you’re looking for an herbal libido enhancer, read ahead for five options that could give you a little boost in the bedroom.
CBD Oil and Sex
There are a few reasons that CBD oil may have a positive effect on your sex life, but arguably the main benefit it offers is reducing stress — one of the biggest sex drive killers. An article in Psychology Today explains that some sexual issues, including erectile dysfunction, are a direct result of stress. And what’s worse, stress produces a cyclical effect. “Negative events create a spontaneous stress response that intensifies the more ingrained it becomes,” the article says.
The use of products like FOCL Drops can help to manage stress. That said, in more extreme cases, however, CBD shouldn’t be a replacement for sex therapy/couple’s therapy when stress seems to be an ongoing issue, and the same goes for any herbal aphrodisiac.
There’s also the pain relief factor to consider. In an article from Healthline, it is explained that some women who experience minor pain from sex have been able to get some relief due to CBD’s soothing properties. There are even topical products, such as lubricants, designed for this use. The article also mentions that CBD can increase blood flow, which may in turn increase sensitivity in the sexual organs.
Another buzzy plant that’s been getting some attention for its purported sex-boosting benefits is the adaptogen Rhodiola rosea.. According to some professionals, including Dr. Sarah Brewer, a medical doctor, licensed nutritionist and nutritional therapist, that has to do with the plant’s ability to manage moods, which many consider essential to a healthy sex life. This Alpine herb is widely used to aid stress and fatigue, and that’s exactly why Dr. Brewer believes it to also improve libido. “Stress has profound effects on your hormone balance,” she states. “When you are stressed, your adrenal glands ramp up their production of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline/epinephrine) and reduce their output of the androgen sex hormones DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate).” Therefore, taking Rhodiola could help give you a mood and energy boost that can greatly benefit your sexual desire.
The adaptogen is available in a few forms, such as capsules, teas, and tinctures. You also can try it combined with the benefits of CBD in a wellness stack like FOCL Day.
Maca, a perennial plant native to South America, has been used for some time for its believed ability to increase vitality. This use dates back to ancient Andean shepherds (who both ate the plant themselves and fed it to their livestock), according to Psychology Today. In fact, more recently maca has been proved to increase the sperm count for livestock. But the plant potentially benefits humans the same way: Studies have shown that this may be due to the fact that it can increase energy, balance mood, and even potentially regulate hormones.
The Korean herb Red Ginseng has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine. While Medical News Today is quick to explain that it has yet to be proved to increase hormone levels (as some suggest), when taken in tea or supplement form it has been shown to increase nitric oxide, which leads to increased blood flow and therefore more sensitivity and better muscle performance.
Another staple of Chinese medicine, ginkgo works in a similar way to ginseng. It offers an increase in blood flow, as well as a “relaxant effect on smooth muscle tissue,” according to a study by UT Austin’s Department of Psychology on women with sexual arousal disorder. This research determined that long-term use of ginkgo — when combined with sex therapy — showed a significant increase in the women’s arousal.
Though each of these herbs have been shown to be an herbal aphrodisiac, its important to take a holistic look at your (sex) life before deciding which one will be best for you. For example, if you find it hard to drum up desire after a week of poor sleep, you’ll likely need to start by addressing the underlying issue first. Incorporating changes that decrease stress and fatigue across every aspect of your life will help you feel more confident and comfortable — both in and out of the bedroom.
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