Devil's Claw and Other Natural Aphrodisiacs

natural aphrodisiac
Cavan Images/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Natural aphrodisiacs are a type of remedy used to enhance libido or treat sexual dysfunction. Although many natural aphrodisiacs are sourced from herbs, dietary supplements such as L-arginine are also taken for this purpose.

Sexual dysfunction is characterized by problems with sexual desire or sexual response. In many cases, natural aphrodisiacs are used as an alternative to the medications commonly prescribed for the treatment of sexual dysfunction.

To date, however, there is a lack of studies comparing the effectiveness of natural aphrodisiacs to that of conventional medications.

Types of Natural Aphrodisiacs

Although a wide variety of remedies are touted as natural aphrodisiacs, few scientific studies have demonstrated that these remedies are effective in improving sexual function.

Research on the effectiveness of natural aphrodisiacs includes a report published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010. For this report, researchers reviewed the available studies testing the use of natural substances as aphrodisiacs. While some of these studies found that the herb ginseng may possess aphrodisiac properties, the review concluded that "the current body of objective evidence does not support the use of any natural aphrodisiac as an effective treatment for male or female sexual dysfunctions."

The following remedies are said to act as natural aphrodisiacs:

1) Korean Red Ginseng

An herb known as Korean red ginseng may help increase libido in menopausal women, according to a small study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010. In an experiment involving 32 menopausal women, researchers observed that Korean red ginseng was more effective than placebo in improving sexual arousal in participants.

Korean red ginseng may also help treat erectile dysfunction, suggests a research review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 2008.

In their analysis of seven previously published clinical trials, the authors of the 2008 review found that Korean red ginseng may be more effective than placebo as an erectile dysfunction treatment. However, since the reviewed studies were generally of poor quality, the authors state that more research is needed before Korean red ginseng can be recommended for this purpose.

2) Maca

In a preliminary study published in CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics in 2008, maca was found to alleviate sexual dysfunction associated with the use of selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (a class of drugs commonly used in the treatment of depression). 

While this finding indicates that maca may act as a natural aphrodisiac, a research review published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2010 found limited evidence for the effectiveness of maca in improving sexual function.

The review focused on four previously published clinical trials, with two of those trials demonstrating that maca may have positive effects on the sexual dysfunction of sexual desire in healthy menopausal women or healthy adult men.

3) Damiana

Damiana is a plant native to Mexico and the southern United States. It has been widely used as an aphrodisiac in Mexico for men and women. Read more on Damiana.

4) Fo-Ti

Fo-ti is also called he shou wu, which means "black-haired Mr. He" in Chinese. This name refers to a folk legend of an older villager named Mr. He who took fo-ti and restored his black hair, youthful appearance and sexual vitality. More on Fo-Ti.

5) Horny Goat Weed

According to folklore, horny goat weed's reputed aphrodisiac qualities were discovered when a Chinese goat herder noticed increased sexual activity in his flock after they ingested the weed. Find out more about the notorious herb Horny Goat Weed.

6) Muira Puama

Muira puama, also called "potency wood" is a small Brazilian tree that grows across the Amazon river basin. It has a long history of use in Brazilian folk medicine as an aphrodisiac. For more information, see Muira Puama.

7) Tongkat Ali

Tongkat Ali is a tree native to Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. It was dubbed the "Asian Viagra" in a May 1999 report in the New Sunday Times. See Tongkat Ali for more about this herb.

8) L-Arginine

L-arginine is not a herb but an amino acid that has numerous functions in the body. It has been used for erectile dysfunction and is often promoted as a Viagra alternative. Get more info on L-Arginine.

9) Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus terrestris is a herb that has been used in China and India for centuries. It was only in the mid-90s when Eastern European Olympic athletes claimed that tribulus contributed to their success that tribulus became known in the North America. For more on this herb, read my article on Tribulus.

10) Not Recommended: Yohimbe

Yohimbe is an evergreen tree that grows in western Africa in Nigeria, Cameroon, the Congo and Gabon. Yohimbe bark extracts are widely promoted online and in health food stores as a natural aphrodisiac to increase libido and treat erectile dysfunction but have serious health risks possibly leading to death. Read more about Yohimbe.

Safety and Possible Side Effects 

A number of herbs said to act as natural aphrodisiacs may trigger certain side effects. Go here to learn more about the safe use of natural aphrodisiacs and other dietary supplements. Also, keep in mind that supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the way prescription medications are. Certain products may contain hidden or undisclosed ingredients or contaminants that have not been identified on the label.

In some cases, decreased libido or sexual dysfunction can signal an underlying health condition. For example, health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and hormonal imbalances appear to contribute to problems with sexual function. If you're experiencing sexual dysfunction, it's important to consult your physician rather than attempting to self-treat with any type of herb, supplement, or alternative medicine.

Using Natural Aphrodisiacs

So far, there's little evidence to support the use of any type of natural aphrodisiac.

Since issues such as stress and anxiety may contribute to sexual dysfunction, it's possible that including stress-reducing techniques in your self-care regimen may have positive effects on sexual function and help boost your libido.

Sources

Bella AJ, Shamloul R. "Traditional plant aphrodisiacs and male sexual dysfunction." Phytother Res. 2014 Jun;28(6):831-5.

Dording CM1, Fisher L, Papakostas G, Farabaugh A, Sonawalla S, Fava M, Mischoulon D. "A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction." CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91.

Jang DJ1, Lee MS, Shin BC, Lee YC, Ernst E. "Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review." Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Oct;66(4):444-50.

Oh KJ1, Chae MJ, Lee HS, Hong HD, Park K. "Effects of Korean red ginseng on sexual arousal in menopausal women: placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover clinical study." J Sex Med. 2010 Apr;7(4 Pt 1):1469-77.

Pratap SA1, Rajender S. "Potent natural aphrodisiacs for the management of erectile dysfunction and male sexual debilities." Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2012 Jan 1;4:167-80.

Shamloul R1. "Natural aphrodisiacs." J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 1):39-49.

Shin BC1, Lee MS, Yang EJ, Lim HS, Ernst E. " Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review." BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Aug 6;10:44.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

Continue Reading