Want to enjoy sexual intimacy without having to worry about the harmful chemicals in the products you are using? Natural intimacy products may be your best choice to restore and ignite sexual vitality for you and your partner.

Herbal Harmony
If you are looking for ways to promote your sexual vitality other than mainstream medications, herbal supplements are available. Herbs can be found in teas, pills or tinctures solds in various health food stores. These herbs include, but are not limited to, panax ginseng, maca root, Muira puama, ginkgo, cinnamon and vanilla. Supplements cannot cure, prevent or treat illness, but they may help support wellness—including sexual health.

Panax ginseng root can be of benefit to many bodily systems. It promotes sexual wellness for both men and women by increasing stamina, strengthening adrenal glands, improving fatigue and serving as a sexual stimulant (1). Ginseng is said to enhance nitric oxide production and may be used alone, though it is sometimes formulated with ginkgo to help increase circulation and enhance sensation (2). Ginkgo also increases blood flow and relaxes blood vessels.

Some men with age-induced testosterone deficiency have symptoms like “depression, anxiety and irritability” (3). Muira puama is an antioxidant that supports healthy mood, sexual vitality and male-specific issues, including erectile function (3).

Another herb that has traditional use as an aphrodisiac is maca (Lepidium meyenii). It is said to improve vitality and stamina in the body with benefits for men and women. For men, it serves as an erectile enhancer and improves semen quality in men looking to conceive, while it increases vaginal lubrication in women (3).

Another popular sexual support ingredient is Tribulus terrestris, which is said to support healthy testosterone levels (1). Yohimbe is also a category standby for its support of healthy blood flow and blood vessel dilation (which might be helpful for those affected by impotence) (1).

Some natural sexual-support supplements include several of these herbs in combination to provide well-rounded benefits. It is best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before incorporating these herbs and supplements into your diet as effects can vary depending on the individual.

Sexual Appetite
Have you ever heard that certain foods can feed your sex drive? From chocolate to avocados, these foods and drinks may well help you get in the mood (4).

• Chocolate: This sweet promotes excitement and is a well- known aphrodisiac that people are drawn to for comfort, happiness and pleasure. It contains phenylethylamine and serotonin precursors that trigger mood alteration, release feel-good endorphins and boost libido.

• Shellfish: Shellfish, specifically raw oysters, are well known to support healthy sexual hormone levels and boost your sex drive by boosting dopamine levels. Oysters also contain large amounts of zinc, “which is vital for testosterone production and healthy sperm” (4).

• Chiles: Looking for something hot? Many people enjoy (or fear) the strong spiciness that comes from eating a hot pepper, which also creates an overall awakening sensation. The capsaicin in chiles not only increase your heart rate, but also helps rev up your sex drive.

• Avocados: Known for their healthy fat content, they not only satisfy your appetite, but also boost your mood, vitality and immune system with a number of important daily vitamins and minerals.

• Cinnamon: Cinnamon may be commonly known as a taste enhancing and warming spice, but it can also bring more than just flavor to foods. It has been shown to improve circulation and may be the arousal boost you need.

As you are warming up with these herbs and food choices, see what you and your partner enjoy best. Keep natural options on the table and talk to your local nutrition store for more information. WF

Additional Consumer Bulletins are available at www.wholefoodsmagazine.com/columns/consumer-bulletin.

1. S. Kotta, S.H. Ansari and J. Ali, “Exploring Scientifically Proven Herbal Aphrodisiacs,” Pharmacogn. Rev. 7 (13), 1–10 (2013).
2. L. Hadady, “Chinese Herbs Enhance Sexual Vitality,” www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Chinese_Herbs_Enhance_Sexual_Vitality.shtml, accessed Jan. 26, 2015.
3. D. Kiefer, “Natural Methods to Improve Vitality, Sexual Function, and Prostate Health,” Life Ext. Mag. www.lef.org/Magazine/2008/12/Natural-Methods-to-Improve-Testosterone-Sexual-Function-Prostate-Health/Page-01, accessed Jan. 26, 2015.
4. L. Klein, “11 Foods that Get Your Sex Drive Going Naturally,” www.organicauthority.com/mojo-foods/11-foods-that-get-your-sex-drive-going-naturally.html, accessed Jan. 26, 2015.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2015