Natural boosts for a healthy sex life
Jonathan E. Prousky, ND, MSc
A healthy libio or sex drive is a normal part of being human. However, when low periods occur, there are natural sex and libido boosters that you can take.
A healthy libido or sex drive is a normal part of being human. While it is not uncommon to go through periods when sexual desire declines or wanes, libido problems become self-evident when these low periods recur and lead to personal stress and interpersonal problems.
Having a healthy libido depends as much on the mind as it does on the body. We are talking about a strong mind-body connection. Unfortunately, many people suffer from a lack of libido and an inadequate sexual response. Libido problems are extremely common, with some reporting a prevalence rate of up to 52 percent in men and up to 63 percent in women. These men and women experience ongoing sexual problems, as well as embarrassment, shame, feelings of low self-worth, depression, and anxiety.
Some natural treatments that are available to overcome low libido in men include Gingko biloba extract (GBE), Korean red ginseng, L-arginine, acupuncture, and specific pelvic-floor exercises.
Gingko biloba extract
Some men find that GBE relieves their libido problems. It works by increasing the production of nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that relaxes the smooth muscle of the penis, thus increasing blood flow and erectile function. GBE does not work in all men, but at 240 mg per day, the results can sometimes be excellent. GBE has even been used clinically to offset the sexual dysfunction induced by antidepressant medications. Note, however, that men on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin need to have their blood-clotting function measured periodically if GBE is taken concurrently.
Korean red ginseng
Korean red ginseng, one of the best-studied herbal medicines for male libido problems, has even more clinical evidence to support its use than GBE. Red ginseng has been shown to increase penile width (girth) and rigidity, duration of erection, and satisfaction based on a mechanism of action that increases production of nitric oxide and blood flow to the penis. The dose to consider is 1.8 to 2.7 g per day, although the higher dosage can sometimes be too stimulating and anxiety provoking for some men.
Begin by taking 1.8 g daily for six weeks. If there is no improvement after the initial six weeks, then increase the dose to 2.7 g daily for another six weeks. If there are no perceptible improvements by 12 weeks, discontinue this treatment and try something else.
The amino acid L-arginine also works by increasing nitric oxide production. Although the results of human studies have been mixed, it has been shown to increase blood flow to the penis and improve sexual function. The dose range to try is 1.5 to 5 g per day on an empty stomach away from food. The therapeutic properties of L-arginine can be enhanced if it is taken with 40 mg of maritime pine tree bark extract twice daily.
L-arginine should not be used by men who have had a previous heart attack or who experience regular outbreaks of oral and/or genital herpes. Start with 2.5 g daily for six weeks. As with Korean red ginseng, increase the dosage to the higher end of the range if there is no improvement by six weeks. Discontinue use if there is no improvement after 12 weeks of use.
Further, pelvic-floor exercises have been shown to increase the muscles that facilitate penile rigidity during erection. Men can stop and start the flow of urine several times each day while urinating. This can also be done without urinating. If the appropriate muscles have contracted, the base of the penis should move up slightly toward the abdomen.
The use of acupuncture has been demonstrated to have positive effects on erectile function and sexual activity. Acupuncture works by normalizing the flow of energy throughout the body. It must be administered twice weekly for six weeks to demonstrate any positive results.
Some natural treatments that are available to overcome low libido in women include GBE, a combination nutritional supplement, and a topical nutritional supplement.
Gingko biloba extract
GBE has a better success rate in women than in men. In about 80 percent of women it can overcome the sexual dysfunction induced by antidepressant medications. The dose is 240 mg per day, and it works by increasing blood flow to the vaginal area.
Acombination nutritional supplement containing ginseng, ginkgo, damiana leaf, and L-arginine, along with numerous vitamins and minerals, has also proven effective. In a human study, 74 percent of the women who took this nutritional supplement for four weeks showed increased sexual function, with notable improvements in libido, vaginal dryness, frequency of sexual intercourse and orgasm, and increased clitoral sensation.
A topical nutritional supplement containing borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, extracts of angelica and coleus, and several antioxidants may also help. This supplement is applied topically to the vulva (external female genital area). Ahuman clinical trial demonstrated increased sexual pleasure in more than 90 percent of women diagnosed with female sexual arousal disorder.
To complement these natural approaches, other strategies to improve libido involve increasing emotional and psychological intimacy. When there is trust and transparency in a relationship, sexual health improves, expectations are clearer, and libido problems become transient and not a main focus.
Couples who communicate more positively have greater intimacy satisfaction. Couples who can problem-solve without escalation or withdrawal have greater relationship and sexual satisfaction. When couples can identify and resolve unmet intimacy needs, libido problems improve because other relationship elements, such as understanding and acceptance, also improve.
Libido problems and a difficult sexual life also occur among couples who focus too much on orgasm. Intimacy and a healthy sexual life are so much more; they’re about having fun while enjoying and learning about each other. Some partners (for medical reasons) cannot experience orgasm but enjoy intercourse because it helps them express love and affection that makes them feel closer to their partner. Couples who understand this experience less anxiety and greater sexual fulfillment.
Finally, there is no definition of what a normal sex life is. Individuals and couples vary widely in terms of the amount of sexual activity they have. Ahealthy libido and sexual life add to general well-being, much like eating well, getting fresh air, and exercising regularly. When people achieve a satisfying sexual life, they experience better moods and less back and joint pain, and they feel more emotionally connected to their needs and the needs of others.
What can be done?
It is important that the underlying causes of low libido are investigated before treatments of any kind are initiated. If you are experiencing persistently low libido, you need to obtain a thorough evaluation from your health care practitioner.
Common causes of disturbed libido in men and women include anemia, cardiovascular disease, hormonal problems, medication side effects, psychological stress. and neurological disease.