With Valentine’s day around the corner, what better time to highlight some libido loving herbs?!
When it comes to herbal aphrodisiacs, you have a group that are stimulating (e.g. ginseng, rhodiola, codonopsis, eleuthero) and then the more relaxing herbs (e.g. ashwagandha, schizandra, maca). Depending on the herb, person and dosage, someone may feel the effects after one use and other herbs work over time with continued use.
One thing to remember is low libido is likely the result of something else –hormonal imbalance, stress, fatigue, psychological reasons…to name a few. This is where adaptogens can be really supportive and why you will find a lot of the aphrodisiac herbs are also in the adaptogen category.
By no means is this a complete list of libido boosting herbs. However, I wanted to highlight some of the tastier aphrodisiac herbs that can be added to smoothies, teas, lattes (coffee & herbal) or healthy dessert recipes.
I have some of the herbs below in my coco-dough recipe here. (SUPER YUM!)
Let’s take a look of a few of the libido loving herbs below.
This hardy herb grows high in the Andes where few plants can survive the freezing temperatures, which could explain some of its benefits. With over 2,000 years of cultivation and use by both humans and animals, it has earned its reputation for boosting energy, elevating mood and enhancing libido. It’s also noted for treating menstrual and menopausal complaints–it’s known to reduce hot flashes. The taste is sweet and malt-like, and it works best as a powder or tincture. Raw powders can cause tummy upset for some folks or thyroid inhibition. In those cases, you could try the gelatinized version where the starches are removed or avoid all together.
Stir into oatmeal, add to smoothies and lattes, sprinkle into nut butters, add to dessert recipes
One of the major herbs in Ayurveda for supporting and strengthening the female reproductive system. Shatavari is often called the herb for “the woman with hundreds of husbands” because it can improve vaginal lubrication and sexual energy! Shatavari is considered to promote fertility, increase breast milk, relieve menstrual pain, ease vaginal dryness and aid dry skin. It’s used as a female tonic and as a rejuvenative herb for pitta-types. Traditionally, it’s used as a powder with warm milk, ghee or honey. It can also be used as a tincture, capsule or decocted tea. It may have estrogenic effects.
Add to smoothies, herbal latte with milk of choice or raw dessert recipes
Known for its aphrodisiac reputation, damiana is also a nervine that is both calming and uplifting. The phytonutrients of damiana can reduce feelings of stress and increase blood flow, particularly to the pelvic area where increased sensitivity can lead to heightened stimulation. Its flavor is bitter and spicy, and best when blended with chocolate, spices and sweeteners. There isn’t much research on damiana but there are some suggestions that is supports testosterone in men. In addition to its libido enhancing qualities for men and women, it may also be useful as an anti-depressant and digestive.
In a tea blend, made into a syrup or tincture with other spices or chocolate. You’ll find it in our STEEP > DREAM.
HE SHOU WU
Another magical root that has a long history of use for longevity, blood-building, beauty, rejuvenation and as a sexual tonic. Despite it’s highly revered ability to build Jing (vital essence), fortify the body and preserve youthfulness it is not a stimulant. It’s a calming herb that can support endocrine function and bring balance to the liver and kidneys. Along with its many other benefits, are the copious reports on its potential to reverse hair loss and restore color to graying hair. Its flavor is pleasant, slightly sweet and can be consumed as a tea, capsule, tincture or powder in water or warm milk of choice.
Add to smoothies, healthy desserts, tea, herbal latte or taken as tincture/capsule.
Also known as “potency wood,” this Amazonian herb is known to be good for both physical and psychological aspects of sexual function for both men and women. Studies has shown positive results for erectile dysfunction (hence the common name) and sexual desire. Muira puama has also been used for stress management, nervous system stimulation and overall health. It has a sweet, warm taste and blends well with vanilla, ginger, cardamom and licorice.
Can be taken as a tea but most effective in tincture form.
Referred to as the magic “velvet bean,” this legume is commonly used to nourish the nervous system, support libido and tone reproductive organs. It contains L-Dopa, an amino acid that transforms into dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that supports many functions of the brain and nervous system from sleep to cognition and voluntary movement. It has a smoky caramel flavor making it a great addition to lattes and raw desserts.
Add to smoothies, soups, herbal latte with milk, desserts
**As always use with caution, dose as recommended and consult your health practitioner if pregnant, on medication or have serious health conditions.
Allison Roman, Certified Herbalist + Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist is a beloved member of the Wellspace Nutrition Team. Specializing in digestive stress, skin issues, hormonal imbalances, auto-immune conditions and chronic symptoms, Allison offers the guidance, support and insight you need to uncover and conquer your health issues.