You exercise, eat kale salads, and drink watermelon juice, but you still find yourself questioning your libido. Where do you turn? You turn to the magic of herbs because plants have the ability to stoke your sexual fire. Here are eight of the most useful plant-based preparations to ignite your sex drive naturally. I recommend that my patients get them in supplement form, and some are available alone while others come in combination formulas:
Maca is formally known as Lepidium meyenii and grows in the Andes of Peru. The powder of the maca root is considered safe to eat and contains glucosinolates similar to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Maca has been reported in testimonials to increase sexual performance in both men and women as well as symptoms of menopause in women. There are many scientific references for maca root, including some scientific support that it enhances sexual performance.
Tribulus is an extract of an herb called Tribulus terrestris that contains many active agents. Reportedly, tribulus can help support normal reproductive function and normal hormone production in men and women. In one study on the sexual responsiveness in women, tribulus increased sexual interest significantly.
Epimedium is a plant that comes mainly from China. As an aphrodisiac, it's better known as "horny goat weed." This plant contains chemical compounds known as flavonoids, plant-based phytoestrogens that are weak like soy, and is a potent aphrodisiac. It may improve the sexual health and performance of women due to the production of nitric oxide (NO) and subsequent improved blood flow to sex organs. In a study of men with ED, a compound containing epimedium was superior to placebo for better sexual performance.
Damiana—also known as Turnera diffusa—is a low-growing plant with yellow flowers and fragrant leaves. It's native to the subtropical climates of southern Texas, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Damiana is said to help enhance sexual health; in a study of 108 women with low sexual interest, a preparation including damiana led to greater interest and satisfaction with sex compared to a placebo preparation.
L-arginine is an amino acid and a precursor to nitric oxide (NO) production. There are supplements that have L-arginine alone or in combination and a particularly interesting form is L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate. When this from is broken down, glutamine is released, which may be beneficial for gut and brain health. There are dozens of studies on L-arginine and sexual performance.
Bergamot is citrus that looks like a lemon and grows on trees in only one region of Southern Italy. The fruit pulp has a unique combination of chemicals that block the same enzyme that statin medications like Lipitor block while also lowering blood sugar and inflammation. When bergamot is combined with other herbal preparations, it has been shown to improve ED in men with diabetes mellitus. This may be in part by supporting healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol. It may also be due to its powerful antioxidant properties that can improve endothelial function. It can be safely used in women, too, and is essentially free of side effects.
7. Magic Velvet Bean
This herb has been used for sexual support, infertility, and nervous disorders and is also known by the name Mucuna pruriens. Extracts of the seeds and leaves are available in various preparations to support successful sexual outcomes. Data are available that show Magic Velvet Bean improving sperm motility and potentially fertility.
8. Eurycoma Longifolia (Tongkat Ali)
This flowering plant grows in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. In Western societies E. longifolia is generally known as an aphrodisiac. In a review of the medical literature published between 2000 and 2014, 11 studies of high quality were identified. In those studies, seven of the 11 found strong associations between using this supplement and improved sexual health and performance.
Overall, the best route to preserve and enhance sexual performance is to lead a lifestyle most favorable to artery health. This would include absence of smoking, regular exercise, maintaining normal blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, and achieving an ideal body weight. The best route to achieve these parameters is a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle. The herbs outlined above may provide further support if needed. PETA ads declared that plant-based sex was the best sex. It may also be the kinkiest sex, according to a web-based survey of the sex habits of vegetarians.