Aphrodisiacs are named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Aphrodisiacs cause you to be aroused and intensify sexual desires. Throughout history, many foods have been reputed to be aphrodisiac and were thought to improve sexual function or fertility. Bananas and asparagus were thought to be aphrodisiacs due to their shape, whilst honey was prescribed to newlyweds on their honeymoon to improve lovelife.
The two most common types of ginseng are Panax ginseng, also called Asian, Korean or Chinese ginseng, and Panax quinquefolius, also called American, Canadian, or North American ginseng. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, American ginseng has more "cooling" properties, which make it valuable for fever and respiratory tract disorders. Asian ginseng has "heating" properties, which are good for improving circulation which is better when you want to heat the bedroom. Ginseng is known as an adaptogen, which means it increases resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stress and improves mental and physical performance. It is specific for erectile dysfunction. Unlike prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction which are usually taken only when needed, ginseng needs to be taken long term. Ginseng has a lot of herb drug interactions and contraindications so arrange a phone consult with myself to ensure there are no drug/nutrient interactions.
Horny Goat Weed
According to folklore, horny goat weed's reputed aphrodisiac qualities were discovered when a Chinese goat herder noticed increased sexual activity in his flock after they ate the weed. It is specific for sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Many studies indicate that horny goat weed may work by increasing nitric oxide levels, which relaxes smooth muscle and lets more blood flow to the penis/clitoris. Horny goat weed also appears to act by inhibiting the PDE-5 enzyme, which is the same way that the popular drug Viagra works. Some evidence suggests horny goat weed may modulate levels of the hormones cortisol, testosterone, and thyroid hormone, bringing low levels back to normal. There are no drug/herb interactions reported.
Damiana is a plant native to Mexico and the southern United States. It has been widely used as an aphrodisiac for men and women in Mexico. It is believed that damiana may have plant compounds with effects similar to those of progesterone. Over 150 herbs were tested for their ability to bind with oestrogen and progesterone receptors in breast cancer cells and research found that the damiana was among the six highest progesterone-binding herbs and spices. Damiana is regarded as a safe herb. Progesterone also enhances the libido, especially in females. Women with too much copper don't make enough progesterone. Copper toxicity is a growing health problem among woman due to our methods of birth control; the oral contraceptive pill increasing copper levels.
Terrestris Tribulus terrestris is a Chinese and Indian herb that has been used for centuries. In the mid-90s some Eastern European Olympic athletes claimed that tribulus contributed to their success which increased its popularity. Tribulus is most often used for infertility and sexual dysfuntion. Research performed in Bulgaria and Russia indicates that tribulus increases levels of the hormones testosterone (by increasing luteinizing hormone), DHEA and oestrogen.
Although maca is unrelated to the ginseng family, it has been dubbed "Peruvian ginseng" because it is used as a folk remedy to increase stamina, energy, and sexual function. According to folklore, ancient Incan warriors took maca before going off to battle to make them physically strong. However, they were later prohibited from taking it, in order to protect conquered women from their heightened libidos. One study looked at the effect of 4 months treatment with maca tablets on semen quality in adult men. Treatment with maca resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count, and sperm motility. A 12-week randomised controlled trial looked at 1,500 mg maca, 3,000 mg maca, or placebo. After 8 weeks, there was an improvement in sexual desire in the men taking maca. It seems to have no effect on hormone levels themselves.
Yohimbe is an evergreen tree that grows in western Africa in Nigeria, Cameroon, the Congo and Gabon. Yohimbe bark extracts are widely promoted online and in health food stores as a natural aphrodisiac to increase libido and treat erectile dysfunction. Yohimbine is actually a prescription drug in the United States for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, its popularity waning since the introduction of Viagra. Yohimbine has been found to relax and dilate blood vessels in the penis, resulting in increased blood flow and erection. It may also stimulate areas in the brain involved in sexual desire. Yohimbine appears to work better for erectile dysfunction not caused by a physical problem. Yohimbe can cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure, as well as anxiety and other side effects.
L-arginine an amino acid or protein that has many functions in the body. It is also deservedly reputed as natures viagra and is used to treat erectile dysfunction. Like the drug sildenafil citrate (Viagra), L-arginine is thought to enhance the action of nitric oxide, which relaxes muscles surrounding blood vessels supplying the penis. As a result, blood vessels in the penis dilate, increasing blood flow, which helps maintain an erection. Viagra blocks an enzyme called PDE5 which breaks down nitric oxide whereas L-arginine works by increasing nitric oxide.
Many of the foods and herbs that have been called natural aphrodisiacs are actually very nutritious. Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and anti-oxidants are the key to a healthy love life.
- Bananas are a great source of potassium as well as other minerals and vitamins. Bananas also contain an enzyme called bromelain that enhances male sexual health.
- Asparagus contains folic acid, a B vitamin which is important for a healthy heart and for having healthy babies.
- Honey is an easy sugar to digest and contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals that other sugars do not.
- Avocados contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals.
- Dark chocolate contains anti-oxidants and also phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter that is stimulated in our human bodies when we fall in love.
- Figs contain more minerals fibre than most other fruits.
- Almonds and pine nuts are a source of essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Vitamin E is the most important nutrient for sexual health.
- Black beans contain protein, fibre and folic acid. Black beans also contain tryptophan, an amino acid precurser to serotonin our feel good hormone.
- Oysters contain zinc, which is important for sexual health.
- Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C and anti-oxidants that boost the energy.
Carina is available to lecture for your group or institution on this subject.
Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu. is a practitioner of 11 years, complementary medicine lecturer of 4 years and mother of six in Galway, Ireland who practices what she teaches.
For an appointment call Carina directly on 083 34 66 333.
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