August 03, 2009

The Green Project: Herbs for Sex

by Sarah Sloane

Long before the days of Viagra, vibrators, and streaming porn videos, we humans pursued new and better ways to heighten our sexual pleasure through every imaginable means. From dildos made of animal hides to dildos shaped like animals—no stone, nut or rock was left unturned by our fore-mothers and –fathers.

For His Pleasure

Arginine is a natural substance that during processing turns into nitric oxide, which causes blood vessel relaxation (vasodilation). Early studies point to the idea that arginine may help treat medical conditions that improve with vasodilation, such as chest pain, clogged arteries, coronary artery disease, erectile dysfunction, etc. Arginine also triggers the body to make protein and has been studied for wound healing, bodybuilding, enhancement of sperm production (spermatogenesis), and prevention of wasting in people with critical illnesses. So—for keeping your boy up (and your swimmers swimming), it may be a great supplement to consider.

Fenugreek is another herb that has acquired a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Chemical analysis has revealed the presence of diosgenen, a substance that acts in a similar way to the body's own sex hormones. Fenugreek has long been recommended by Chinese herbalists for impotence—I guess this is one of the real “ancient Chinese secrets”, eh?

Gotu Kola
Gotu kola (not to be confused with Hota Kotb, who should in no manner be ingested) improves circulation as well as enhances mental performance and concentration. As we’ve mentioned before – healthy circulation is very important to a healthy sex life, and additional mental acuity means that you’re less likely to yell out “Angelina” or “Brad” accidentally in bed.

Ginger is a relative of Cardamon, and well known for its warming, aromatic properties. In an article titled "Studies on Herbal Aphrodisiacs Used in the Arab System", published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, some Saudi scientists asserted that ginger extracts significantly increase sperm motility and quantity. (Motility means capable of moving spontaneously and independently—which, when you consider it, is kind of unnerving when you think about sperm doing it).

No, it’s not the name of those fuzzy things on Star Trek – tribulus is an herb that has been shown to help with impotence and infertility, as well as stimulate hormone production. (This is a main ingredient in Enzyte*—you know, Smiling Bob’s enhancer of choice?). In fact, studies show that it can actually boost testosterone levels—and, at least in animals, induce rutting behavior (which, by the way, means “mounting other animals”).

Saw Palmetto
Native American Indians considered the ripe fruits of the saw palmetto a tonic and an aphrodisiac. The berries do, in fact, have a toning effect on the male reproductive system and have been employed for impotence and prostrate problems. It can be used to treat prostate enlargement and cystitis. Saw palmetto ( Serenoa repens , Sabal serrulata ) is used popularly in Europe for symptoms associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlargement of the prostate). Although not considered standard of care in the United States, it is the most popular herbal treatment for this condition, and thus is very easy to find in pretty much any drugstore with an herbal supplements section.

Yohimbe bark
Yohimbe bark comes from west Africa, and is said to expand the blood vessels in the penis and increase blood flow. It also claims to increase nitrous oxide (NO), which is important for producing an erection. However, renal failure, seizures, and death have been reported from the use, or misuse, of this herb. Most sources suggest that one never take a product containing yohimbe if they have high blood pressure. Of course, high blood pressure carries its own set of problems when it comes to physical activity – like good sex, for instance.

For Both

Cardamon is an aromatic spice, held in high esteem by the Arab culture as an aphrodisiac. Cardamom’s sexual nature is centered in its high content of cineole, which is a central nervous system stimulant. As most of us are aware, people often equate any stimulation as a sexual stimulation; a caffeine buzz can get us going, so why not a bit of a sexually arousing buzz from cardamom?

Damiana is good for improving blood flow to the genital area and increasing desire. It can also benefit the hormonal balance of the body, bringing things to a healthier, more natural level. Many studies report that the loss of sexual arousal can be dependent on hormonal imbalances, so making sure that your body’s chemicals are well regulated can be a first step towards regaining (or improving) your sexual response.

Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo improves circulation to the penis as well as acts to alleviate the symptoms of depression, which may be a cause of impotence. Ginkgo also stimulates the mind and helps with concentration. Although not definitive, there is promising early evidence favoring the use of ginkgo for memory enhancement in healthy subjects, altitude (mountain) sickness, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and reduction of chemotherapy-induced end-organ vascular damage. So, the overall benefits of ginkgo are only partly related to our sex life—it has the potential to improve other aspects as well.

Ginseng is well known as a sexual stimulant, and was initially used in Chinese herbal medicine. It is both a stimulant and relaxant on the central nervous system, improves muscle stamina and function, and is used as an additive in many energy drinks sold in the U.S. and overseas. Its use has become almost global; it’s found in dozens of “vitality” formulas available over the counter worldwide. One thing to be careful of is that ginseng can cause problems for people who have blood pressure issues, are pregnant, or have other physical challenges, so be sure to research before you use it.

There are tons of supplements out there – we’ve only covered a brief list. The important things to remember are:
1. Not everything that says it’s good for you actually is. Do your research.
2. No amount of supplements will make up for a lack of creativity and fun when it comes to sex.
3. A healthy body, coupled with a creative and engaged mind, is the best recipe for a great sex life.

*(Enzyte® Proprietary Blend:
Tribulus Terrestris extract (aerial), L-Arginine Base, Korean Ginseng, Maca (Lepidium meyenii), Orchic Substance, Epimedium Sagitatum extract, Yohimbe Extract (Pausinystalia yohimba), Muira puama, Avena Sativa extract, Zinc Gluconate, Ginkgo Biloba extract , Saw Palmetto (Serona repens), Niacin, Copper Gluconate, Octacosonal, Thymus Gland. )