5 plants that help to stimulate sexual desire and male erection
Throughout human history, there have been intimate links with the knowledge and use of aphrodisiac plants in all civilisations. Aphrodisiacs, named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, are foods, plants or substances that awaken and increase desire, improve performance and sexual experience (1).
The emergence in the 1990s of the drug viagra (sidenafil citrate) to improve male erectile dysfunction triggered a revolution, accompanied by strong demand from men around the world. But over the years, misuse of the ‘blue pill’ has generated controversy and has been associated with certain adverse side effects (2). But there are alternatives. The truth is that for thousands of years, dozens of plants used as a natural viagra have been known to be capable of boosting libido (in men and women), increasing endurance during sexual encounters, increasing testosterone levels and enhancing male erection, and have been corroborated by modern science.
Sex life: quality and quantity matter
In the sex life of human beings, the quality of sexual relations and the quantity or frequency of intimate encounters are important. Sometimes these encounters are affected by psychological and physical factors that gradually diminish sexual response, satisfaction and even affect people’s confidence. This can lead indirectly to an avoidance of sexual encounters, relationship or sexual problems and lack of sexual desire. Whether in Asia, Africa or Europe, human beings have therefore looked to nature for solutions to help them improve the quality and frequency of their sexual relations (3). According to studies, there are plants that enhance erection and plants that enhance sexual desire.
But in addition, phytotherapy can also control certain risk factors associated with erectile dysfunction, or the inability to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. Impotence is associated with diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, high blood lipid levels (cholesterol, triglycerides), high blood pressure and cigarette and alcohol consumption (4) (5). Unsurprisingly, an estimated 20-30 million men are affected by some degree of sexual dysfunction (6).
Nutrients and plants to enhance erection
The erection of the male member occurs as a result of the relaxation of penile smooth muscle, mediated by the nervous system. It is also accepted that an increase in nitric oxide (NO), a natural vasodilator, makes it easier for the penis muscle to fill with blood (7). In order to generate nitric oxide, the amino acid L-arginine, which acts as a precursor, and an enzymatic catalyst, nitric oxide synthase (8), must be present. An adequate intake of L-arginine through diet or supplementation, as well as plants that stimulate NO synthesis appear to be suitable strategies for improving erectile dysfunction. Scientific evidence shows that L-arginine supplementation is effective and safe in patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction (9) (10).
As for plants, dozens of plant species from different cultures and countries have been studied and traditionally used as natural aphrodisiacs, but the scientific evidence is not as solid for some as it is for others. The good results obtained from Panax ginseng and some herbal combinations with components such as Maca, Ginseng or Tribulus (11) (12) for treating cases of erectile dysfunction stand out.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root cultivated at altitudes above 3,000 metres from the Andes and traditionally used for its invigorating and aphrodisiac properties (13). Studies have shown that dry extract of maca root (14) improves physical performance and sexual well-being in adult men with erectile dysfunction. These results are associated with maca’s ability to increase the concentration of nitric oxide (NO) in the penis (15), as a substance that increases blood flow. Other studies suggest that maca may be effective in improving semen quality and sperm motility (16) (17).
Ancient Chinese medicine and traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) established tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) as a known potent aphrodisiac (18). Studies show positive effects in men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, and improved sexual function, satisfaction, and sexual desire (19). This plant offers a high concentration of steroid saponins (20), especially if we purchase standardised extracts. These natural substances stimulate the Leydig cells in the testicles to increase testosterone production. In addition to contributing to a healthy libido and improving sexual function, this important hormone also stimulates the formation of muscle mass and can aid weight loss (21) (22).
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L) seeds can be very useful for the control of certain risk factors that can lead to erectile dysfunction, such as hypercholesterolemia or diabetes, also showing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in numerous studies (23) (24) (25).
Plants to enhance sexual desire
But sex is so much more than an erection. This intimate episode is influenced by sexual desire, hormone levels and the proper functioning of the nervous system, as well as physical endurance and the integration of stimuli at olfactory, tactile and even mental level.
Traditional medicine has also looked to damiana (Turnera diffusa) as an aphrodisiac, and preliminary studies suggest that flavonoids, caffeine and arbutine, present in a concentrated extract, may improve sexual desire and reduce the post-ejaculatory interval (26) (27).
And if the desired goal is to reduce fatigue and increase your sexual potency, then a safe bet is the Panax ginseng (28). Studies in animals have shown that Korean ginseng improves libido and copulatory performance (29), and demonstrates anti-inflammatory action even in older men in cases of prostatitis (30).
Good sex throughout your life
You can enjoy a full sex life throughout your whole life by seeking support from nutrients, plants and extracts that promote vasodilation, such as L-arginine, an amino acid precursor of NO, reducing fatigue and fatigue thanks to Panax ginseng, provided it has standardised ginsenoside content; the same is true for tribulus extract, which will require good standardised saponin content (40%) for its effect on improving sexual function and libido. In other words, a combination of different extracts and nutrients that target all facets of impotence or decreased sexual desire. By looking and feeling better, we gain confidence. The enhancement of sexual desire and potency offered by some plants will make it easier to continue enjoying a full sex life.
Precautions: The extracts described are for adult use only. Consult your doctor if you are taking anticoagulants at the same time, or if you have a specific medical condition, before taking these extracts separately or in combination.
(1) Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs, Sabna Kotta, Shahid H. Ansari and Javed Ali https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731873/
(2) Sildenafil-associated hepatoxicity: a review of the literature. Graziano S, Montana A, Zaami S, Rotolo MC, Minutillo A, Busardò FP, Marinelli E. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28379598
(3) Aphrodisiacs past and present: a historical review. Sandroni P. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11758796/
(4) Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. Feldman HA, Goldstein I, Hatzichristou DG, Krane RJ, McKinlay JB. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8254833/
(5) [Epidemiology and age-related risk factors of erectile dysfunction] Mock K. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10746286
(6) The etiology of erectile dysfunction and mechanisms by which drugs improve erection. Gallé G, Trummer H. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12730703/
(7) Nitric oxide in the penis: physiology and pathology. Burnett AL https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8976289/
(8) The role of nitric oxide in penile erection. Cartledge J1, Minhas S, Eardley I. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11336572
(9) The Potential Role of Arginine Supplements on Erectile Dysfunction: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. Chang Rhim H, Kim MS, Park YJ, Choi WS, Park HK, Kim HG, Kim A, Paick SH. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30770070
(10) Treatment of erectile dysfunction with pycnogenol and L-arginine. Stanislavov R1, Nikolova V. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12851125
(11) Herbal Dietary Supplements for Erectile Dysfunction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Borrelli F, Colalto C, Delfino DV, Iriti M, Izzo AA https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29633089
(12) Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. McKay D1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15005641
(13) Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru--from tradition to science. Gonzales GF, Gonzales C, Gonzales-Castañeda C. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20090350
(14) Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well-being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double-blind clinical trial. Zenico T, Cicero AF, Valmorri L, Mercuriali M, Bercovich E. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19260845
(15) Effects of combined extracts of Lepidium meyenii and Allium tuberosum Rottl. on erectile dysfunction. Zhang Y, Zhou F, Ge F. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31215433
(16) The use of maca (Lepidium meyenii) to improve semen quality: A systematic review. Lee MS, Lee HW, You S, Ha KT https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27621241
(17) Chemical Analysis of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) and Its Effects on Redox Status and on Reproductive Biology in Stallions †.
Tafuri S, Cocchia N, Carotenuto D, Vassetti A, Staropoli A, Mastellone V, Peretti V, Ciotola F, Albarella S, Del Prete C, Palumbo V, Esposito L, Vinale F, Ciani F. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31126050
(18) Pro-sexual and androgen enhancing effects of Tribulus terrestris L.: Fact or Fiction. Neychev V, Mitev V. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26727646/
(19) Evaluation of the efficacy and safety of Tribulus terrestris in male sexual dysfunction-A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Kamenov Z, Fileva S, Kalinov K, Jannini EA https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28364864/
(20) Furostanol saponins from the fruits of Tribulus terrestris. Chen G, Su L, Feng SG, Lu X, Wang H, Pei YH. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22934688
(21) A review of traditional pharmacological uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacological activities of Tribulus terrestris. Zhu W, Du Y, Meng H, Dong Y, Li L. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29086839
(22) The hormonal effects of Tribulus terrestris and its role in the management of male erectile dysfunction--an evaluation using primates, rabbit and rat.
Gauthaman K, Ganesan AP. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18068966/
(23) A review on therapeutic potentials of Trigonella foenum graecum (fenugreek) and its chemical constituents in neurological disorders: Complementary roles to its hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, and antioxidant potential. Zameer S, Najmi AK, Vohora D, Akhtar M. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28504078
(24) Pharmacological effects of Trigonella foenum-graecum L. in health and disease. Yadav UC, Baquer NZ. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24102093
(25) Investigating Therapeutic Potential of Trigonella foenum-graecum L. as Our Defense Mechanism against Several Human Diseases. Goyal S, Gupta N, Chatterjee S. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26884758
(26) Turnera diffusa Wild (Turneraceae) recovers sexual behavior in sexually exhausted males. Estrada-Reyes R, Ortiz-López P, Gutiérrez-Ortíz J, Martínez-Mota L. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19501274
(27) Pro-sexual effects of Turnera diffusa Wild (Turneraceae) in male rats involves the nitric oxide pathway.
Estrada-Reyes R1, Carro-Juárez M, Martínez-Mota L. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23298455
(28) Antifatigue effects of Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Kim HG, Cho JH, Yoo SR, Lee JS, Han JM, Lee NH, Ahn YC, Son CG. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23613825
(29) Ginseng, sex behavior, and nitric oxide. Murphy LL, Lee TJ. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12076988
(30) The Effects of Korea Red Ginseng on Inflammatory Cytokines and Apoptosis in Rat Model with Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis.
Kang SW, Park JH, Seok H, Park HJ, Chung JH, Kim CJ, Kim YO, Han YR, Hong D, Kim YS, Kim SK7 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30756082