Having a healthy sex drive plays an important part of our health and wellbeing. Low libido is a common problem for both women and men. There are many reasons why people lose their sex drive. Tiredness, stress, depression, adrenal fatigue, certain medications (antidepressants and hypertensive drugs), excessive alcohol consumption, hormonal changes and low testosterone levels can all play a part in reducing libido. Having a newborn can also put the breaks on your sex drive for a while due, primarily, to lack of sleep and recovery after giving birth.
Did you know that what you eat can also affect your desire for sex. Eating a healthy diet rich in important nutrients like zinc, B vitamins and essential fatty acids that are required for sex hormone production and reproductive function are also vital for a healthy libido.
Here are some of the top foods and herbs that will help spice things up in the bedroom.
According to a study out of the University of Queensland’s school of medicine, the spice fenugreek can apparently liven up a lot more than a curry. Researchers found that fenugreek can help increase arousal, sexual behavior, sexual drive and orgasm in both men and women. Fenugreek contains active compounds called saponins that help regulate hormones and increase testosterone levels. Testosterone levels commonly decrease in men with age. Low testosterone levels are also a cause of low libido in women. Fenugreek is an ingredient in curry powder, Asian sauces, chutneys and other condiments. Fenugreek seeds can also be sprouted and used on salads and sandwiches.
Withania (Ashwagandha) is an Ayurvedic herb with a long history as a natural aphrodisiac. One of the oldest books on sexuality, The Kama Sutra, lists withania as a powerful sexual stimulant. It helps improve sexual desire by increasing blood flow to the genitals which helps increase arousal and sensitivity. Withania is also a well-known adaptogenic herb that supports the adrenals. This supportive herb calms the nervous system and assists the body with coping with stress in a healthier way. Stress and poor adrenal function is a major cause of hormonal imbalance. The adrenal glands produce DHEA a hormone that is the precursor to several sex hormones including testosterone. A common symptom of adrenal fatigue is low libido. You will find this libido boosting herb in our Bodhi Organic VitaliTEA.
Dark chocolate is a well-known aphrodisiac found in your supermarket isle. When you eat chocolate you actually get an increase in endorphins, the same chemicals you release when you are in love. Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that boosts dopamine levels, which increases your feelings of desire. Dark chocolate, or even better cacao or ‘raw chocolate’, is rich in powerful antioxidants called phenols, which are good for your heart too.
Maca is a root vegetable native to Peru, which has been used for thousands of years as a nutritious food staple. This Perivan superfood is considered an ‘adaptogen’, as it works wonders for improving energy levels and helping you cope with the stressful demands of modern life. Maca also has a positive effect on our hormonal system, helping to correct hormone imbalances in the body. It is a good source of zinc needed for sex hormone production and B vitamins and magnesium to help support healthy energy levels. Maca is also called ‘Nature’s Viagra’, as it is best known for its aphrodisiac qualities and ability to improve libido and sexual performance. It is particularly beneficial for people with low libido when fatigue, stress and hormonal imbalances are issues. Maca powder has a light, nutty flavour that mixes well in smoothies, muffins, protein balls, or sprinkled over breakfast cereal.
Adding chilies to meals is a great way to help spice things up in the bedroom. Chilies contain a compound called capsaicin that can help give your libido a boost by increasing your heart rate and blood flow, and stimulating the release of endorphins, your brains ‘feel-good’ hormone.
Celery is also a surprising libido boosting food. Eating celery can increase the pheromone androsterone, which is a natural aphrodisiac found in male perspiration, which can make men more sexually appealing to women. Celery also contains chemicals that can help dilate blood vessels and enhance climax.
Including bananas in the diet can also help improve your sex drive. Bananas are an excellent source of B vitamins, needed to increase energy production and lower stress levels (which can dampen your libido). Bananas also contain an amino acid called tryptophan, needed to make serotonin, your ‘feel good’ hormone.
Libido boosting herbs that are commonly used by herbalists and naturopaths include Damiana (Turnera diffusa), Tribulus terrestris, Yohimbe, and horny goat weed (Epimedium). Ginkgo biloba is also recommended to help boost sex drive as it helps to enhance blood flow, including blood flow to the reproductive organs which can be useful for improving erectile dysfunction and enhancing orgasms in women. You will find Ginkgo biloba in our Bodhi Organic CognitiviTEA.
Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
Munching on these nutritious seeds can help improve your sex life. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, which is one of the most important minerals when it comes to reproductive health and libido. Zinc is especially important for producing testosterone which is vital for a healthy sex drive in both men and women. Seeds also contain healthy fats that are essential for sexual health.
Part of oyster’s aphrodisiac qualities are due to their texture and how they feel when you eat them, and partly due to their high levels of libido enhancing zinc.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.