Ayurvedic aphrodisiacs are just one of the hidden but valuable parts of the Ayurvedic treasure house of healing. Here we’ll look at Ayurvedic aphrodisiacs along with the top herbs and foods for libido and sexual health. More specifically, we’ll look at delicious aphrodisiac foods that have been used traditionally in Ayurveda, as well as scientifically tested foods and herbs for increasing libido in both males and females.
The term aphrodisiac is derived from the name Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, fruitfulness and beauty. An aphrodisiac is a food or herb that arouses sexual desire, induces venereal desire and increases pleasure and performance.
According to Ayurveda, aphrodisiacs are of two types. Some of them promote a qualitative increase of sexual drive (Vajeekarana) and some of them promote quantitative increase in the quality and expulsion of the semen (Vrishya).
Ayurveda says that if a particular food is continued for a prolonged period of time as a habit, it decreases the sperm count gradually. In the case of tobacco, areca nut (betel nut), bitter gourd, guggulu (Commiphora mukul) and alcohol, when these are taken in a small quantity, they act as stimulants. If they are taken excessively however, they decrease the sexual libido or reduce the sperm count. These substances possess dryness, lightness, hardness, a toxic nature, deep penetration, induce sleep (sedative) and have narcotic properties.
Other causes of sperm reduction includes stress, night awakening and addictions, as well as some cosmetics and preservatives.
The most common reasons for a woman’s loss of libido are stress, inflammation (and overweight), under-eating, dieting, over-exercising, a very low fat diet (less than 30 grams of fat a day hinders hormone production), a low carb diet (less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day hinders thyroid function), hypothyroidism, PCOS, menopause, excessive use of birth control pills and if progesterone levels are elevated relative to estrogen.
According to the ancient Ayurvedic sage Charaka, aphrodisiac therapy creates the potentiality for an offspring for the maintenance of the continuity of the lineage, causes instantaneous sexual excitation, increases uninterrupted sexual strength ‘like that of a strong horse’ and enhances one’s attractiveness.
This therapy nourishes the tissue elements (Dhatu) by which even in old age, one does not get seminal debility or deficiency. It enables one to earn respect from people by virtue of having procreated several children. It also brings longevity, beauty, strength and nourishment.1
Some of the pharmacologically tested herbs which claim to be the best aphrodisiacs for both males and females are tuberous roots of safed musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum), white ginger (Mondia whitei), puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris), saffron (Crocus sativus), dried kernel of seeds of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), pollen of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), maca (Lepidium meyenii), Thai black ginger (Kaempferia parviflora), tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia), marzeh khuzestani (Satureja khuzestanica), panax ginseng, yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe), zoapatle (Montanoa tomentosa), seed extract of sea almond (Terminalia catappa) and white sapote (Casimiroa edulis), and spreading hedyotis herb (Turnera diffusa). These herbs are scientifically effective, have no known health risks while still helping to boost sex drive.2
1. To Promote Sperm And Semen Production (Shukra utpadaka or Janana)
Ayurveda recommends to include bananas, almonds, white musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum), Indian goose berry (Emblica officinalis), cow’s ghee, cow’s milk, puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris), sesame seeds and onions in your diet. These items have certain beneficial properties for this purpose, including sliminess, unctuousness, lightness, coldness and minuteness properties.
2. To Prevent Early Ejaculation (Shukra Sthambhaka)
Such herbs or substances delay the time of ejaculation or improve ejaculatory performance. These include nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), areca nut (Areca catechu), lodh (Lodhra), cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum), sandalwood (Santalum album), ceylon ironwood (Messua ferrae) and resin of silk cotton tree (Salmalia malabarica). These are dry, light, hot, hard and stable in nature.
3. To Assist In Easy Expulsion Of Semen (Shukra Rechakas)
These substances are taken when there is difficulty in free expulsion of semen. Banana, shatavari (Asparagus racemose), cow’s milk, fruit of black nightshade (Solanum nigrum), marsh barbel (Asteracanthus longifolia), Indian licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), country mallow (Sida cardofolia), Indian Kudju (Ipomea tuberosa) and spreading hogweed (Boerhavia diffusa) can be taken for this purpose. These items have the following properties: penetrative (teeksna), sweet, heavy, slimy, slow, unctuous, thick and soft.
4. To Improve The Quantity Of Semen (Shukravardhaka or Shukrala)
For this purpose black gram, white onion, Indian goose berry (Emblica officinalis), Indian licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra ), country mallow (Sida cardifolia), musli (Curculigo orchioides), shatavari (Asparagus racemose) and velvet bean (Mucuna pruritus) can be taken. These are slimy, cold, thick, unctuous, heavy, soft and stable in nature.
5. To Strengthen Semen (Shukrabalakara)
These correct the deformities of the sperm in relation to the structure and function. They include black gram, Indian licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), country mallow (Sida cardifolia), Indian mallow (Abutilon indicum), shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Indian ginseng (Withania somnifera), puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris) and velvet bean (Mucuna pruritus).
6. Semen Stimulants (Shukra Uttejaka)
These herbs stimulate seminal fluid and sperm. These include black gram, drumstick, butter, ghee, velvet bean (Mucuna pruritus), clove (Syzygium aromaticum ), betel leaf (Piper betel leaf). Ayurvedic classical literature emphasizes the spouse or partner as the best aphrodisiac.
In Ayurveda, Shilajit is employed for the management of male reproductive disorders, and in particular, under the parlance of an aphrodisiac with special reference to spermatogenesis (Vrisya). In one study it was seen that Shilajit acts as a testosterone stimulator and a marker for spermatogenesis.3 In another study, Shilajit extract improved sexual performance as well as sperm count.4
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), velvet bean (Mucuna prurians) and banana (Musa paradisiac) are the best aphrodisiacs for women. Research has demonstrated that all of them have shown an increase in uterine 5-HT. Saffron (Crocus sativa), Indian licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris), black tea or camellia senesis, and nutmeg have also shown aphrodisiac activity and improved female sexual dysfunction.5
Include these effective aphrodisiac foods in your diet to improve sexual health.
According to Ayurveda, substances which are sweet, unctuous, nourishing, heavy and which can cause excitement of the mind are aphrodisiacs. Have milk products and meat-based soups regularly. Fish in general are aphrodisiac but rohu fish (carp) cooked with ghee is the most aphrodisiac food. One who takes it regularly does not suffer from sexual debility and low sperm count.6
The ancient, traditional Ayurvedic texts will tell you that eggs of swan, red-legged partridge, hen, peacock and sparrow promote strength. Meat of the male bustard, cock, partridge and pork are unctuous aphrodisiacs and nourishing by nature.
More readily available items include split black gram (one of the best aphrodisiacs), wheat, sali class of corns or baby corn, mango, plum, pomegranates, dates and grapes. Ayurveda also says that one should avoid foods which have a very hot taste, and an excess of salty, sour and pungent tastes. Also avoid an excess of alkaline food preparations.7
Studies show that certain foods or nutrients do play a role in boosting libido and supporting a healthy sex life.
Try eating certain fruits which stir the libido, revive sexual function and enhance overall health. Fruits are one of the richest sources of vitamins, minerals and energy substrates. The fresh erotic fruits are apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, coconut, oranges, guava, dates, figs, grapes, mangoes, papayas, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranates, quince, avocados, watermelon, blueberries, black raspberries, raspberries and strawberries. They are celebrated in erotic literature throughout the world. They preserve sexual vitality, increase the blood flow to the genitals and promote a healthy sex life.8
Aniseed, arugula seed, nutmeg, cardamom, garlic, cinnamon, clove, coriander, fennel, mustard, basil, ginger, black pepper, red peppers and saffron. These are loaded with antioxidants, which are great for overall health, including libido. Research published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal showed that extracts of nutmeg and clove enhanced sexual behavior. Garlic contains high levels of allicin and increases blood flow.9 Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada have found that saffron can improve sexual performance.
Vegetables are rich in iron and folates. Great sources include dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, broccoli, asparagus and celery. Pumpkin, carrots, arugula, juicy tomatoes, musli, onion and rhubarb have rejuvenative, antioxidant, anti-aging effects and promote aphrodisiac effects.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with potassium and vitamin A. The potassium helps in stabilizing high blood pressure, which is a major cause of erectile dysfunction. They’re also rich in beta-carotene, providing the body with vitamin A, and can be helpful for those with infertility.
Eggs are high in protein, a good source of amino acid L-arginine, which has been shown effective in treating several types of heart ailments, erectile dysfunction and improves stamina. They are also low in calories.
Fish also help in Erectile Dysfunction. Men’s erections require a steady release of nitric oxide. The omega-3s found in fish are one of the most proven nutritional paths to heart health and help in blood circulation.
Oysters possess a high potential of aphrodisiac property and can be used to restore male sexual activity.10
Flax seeds are a rich source of dietary lignans and omega-3s and are strongly linked to a healthier heart and vascular system. They take care of sexual health. Pumpkin seeds are the best food sources of an amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps in the production of serotonin in your brain. Sesame seeds also possess aphrodisiac properties.
These nuts are a good source of infertility-fighting selenium and can get your blood flowing with the help of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are rich in zinc, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin B and healthy fats and can improve sexual health and reproduction. A glass of warm milk with crushed pepper and powdered almonds taken at bed time is beneficial.11
Panax ginseng belongs to the family Araliaceae and is one of the finest aphrodisiacs in the world. It acts as a neurotransmitter inducing penile erection.12 Researchers at the University of Hawaii found that women who took a ginseng supplement significantly upped their libido in a month and 68 percent also said their overall sex life improved dramatically.
Research has shown that chocolate consumption causes a release of phenylethylamine and serotonin, which leads to some aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects.13 Release of phenylethylamine upon eating dark chocolate, gives the same feel good endorphins triggered by sex. It works like Viagra as it is also full of arginine, an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide and increases the nitric oxide levels which enhance and improve blood flow.14
Oats contribute to the health and fertility of women. They maintain good functioning of the thyroid gland and of the entire endocrine system. Oats and it’s products are rich in vitamins B1, B2, A, D, lecithin, avenin and hormonal principles similar to folliculin. Cereal oats have the highest quantity of proteins.15
Honey’s B vitamins aid in the production of testosterone, and its boron content helps the body use estrogen, which is a key factor in proper blood flow and arousal. It cures sterility, impotence, and waning virility. It is prescribed for weak heart and sexual vigor. Honey has chemicals which boost attraction. It is rich in B vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and minerals. Therefore, honey is called an energy booster and helps you sustain high energy levels.16
Seaweed (ocean vegetables) are the best sources of iodine, minerals, β- complex and other vitamins. It maintains healthy mucous membranes and prostate in men.17
Green tea is rich in compounds called catechins, which have been shown to be effective in reducing belly fat and speed the liver’s healing capacity.
Catechins knock out free radicals and increases the ability of the blood vessels to transport blood. Catechins cause blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide, which increases the size of the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow.
Prevent dehydration and make it a habit to drink plenty of water. Water is helpful in your libido since dehydration can cause a number of negative side effects that can easily dull sexual desire. If you want to avoid possible fatigue, headaches and vaginal dryness then drink up to three liters of water per day.
Limit alcohol to one glass. Too much alcohol can ruin your ability to perform by affecting erectile function and can also inhibit your ability to orgasm. Opt for red wine which has a rich antioxidant profile that triggers nitric oxide production in the blood and relaxes artery walls.
Remember, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and being stressed out affects your sex drive and may cause you to have a poor self-image. To relieve stress, participate in sports activities, practice yogasanas, try breathing exercises or pranayama, and get plenty of sleep, at least for 7 hours each night.
1 R.K.Sharam,Agnivesa’s Charaka Chikitsa sthana 1.1 verse 9- 12, page no 8,9,Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series-Varanasi 2017
2 Sabna Kotta, Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs Pharmacogn Rev. 2013 Jan-Jun; 7(13): 1–10.doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.112832PMCID: PMC3731873
3 Pandit S, Biswas S, Jana U, De RK, Mukhopadhyay S, et al. (2015) Clinical evaluation of purified Shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteer, Andrologia, 1: 1-6
4 GUPTA RB et al,EVALUATION OF APHRODISIAC ACTIVITY AND SPERMATOGENIC EFFECT OF SHILAJIT, IJPRBS, 2013; Volume 2(6): 42-56
5 P.K. Debnath APHRODISIAC DRUGS FOR WOMEN AND ITS CORRELATION WITH SEROTONIN Explor. Anim. Med. Res., Vol.2, Issue – II, 2012, p. 137-145
6 Govinddas sen,Bhaishjya Ratnavali, Chapter 74 Vajikaran Adhikar ,verse 32 page no 1127, chowkhambha Subharti Prakashan- Varanasi,2016.
7 Govinddas sen,Bhaishjya Ratnavali, Chapter 74 Vajikaran Adhikar ,verse 23 page no 1126, chowkhambha Subharti Prakashan- Varanasi,2016.
8 Anil Bijlwan et al,The Dietary Aphrodisiacs International Journal of Innovative Research and Development, October, 2013, Vol 2 Issue 10
9 Tajuddin Aphrodisiac activity of 50% ethanolic extracts of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg) and Syzygium aromaticum (L) Merr. & Perry. (clove) in male mice: a comparative study BMC Complementary and Alternative MedicineThe official journal of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR)20033:6https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882- 3-6
10 B.H.Ridzwan et al.,Screening for aphrodisiac property in local oyster of crassostrea Iredalei, DOI: 10.5829/idosi.wasj.2013.26.12.81103,Research gate.
11 Anil Bijlwan et al,The Dietary Aphrodisiacs International Journal of Innovative Research and Development, October, 2013, Vol 2 Issue 10.
12 Sabna Kotta, Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs Pharmacogn Rev. 2013 Jan-Jun; 7(13): 1–10.doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.112832PMCID: PMC3731873
13 Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa Cocoa and chocolate consumption – Are there aphrodisiac and other benefits for human health? South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition Vol. 21 Iss.
14 Andrea ORIGINAL RESEARCH—WOMEN'S SEXUAL HEALTH: Chocolate and Women’s Sexual Health: An Intriguing Correlation Volume 3, Issue 3,May 2006 ,Pages 476–482 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00236.x A Journal of Sexual Medicine.
15,16,17 Anil Bijlwan et al,The Dietary Aphrodisiacs International Journal of Innovative Research and Development, October, 2013, Vol 2 Issue 10.
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