crocusHerbs that influence sexual functioning are safe, easy to use, and highly effective. They can improve desire, performance, and frequency for both men and women.

Down There the Wise Woman Way includes specific information on using my favorite sexy herbs, including: oatstraw, schizandra, ginkgo, fenugreek, ginseng, tribulus, ginger, marijuana, damiana, potency wood, yohimbe, guarana, and dendrobium. Plus information on sexy foods, and the effects of supplements such as arginine.

Oatstraw infusion is my favorite sexual tonic, for both men and women. It frees up, and thus increases, the amount of circulating testosterone. This aids lubrication, improves blood flow, increases stiffness, amps up interest, and heightens enjoyment. Postmenopausal women say oatstraw turns a vaginal desert into a flowing oasis. A cup or two a day helps lower cholesterol, too. Oaststraw counters environmental estrogens, too, decreasing cancer risk. For best results, alternate with red clover infusion to adjust hormones gently and build potency.

Schizandra berry (Schizandra chinensis) tincture (1–2 dropperfuls) or infusion (2–4 cups daily) strengthens the adrenals, counters inflammation, and increases sexual desire and vigor. It is a prized herb in China, long thought to preserve youth and sexual vigor, and to nourish the “waters of the genitals.” It helps us endure and function in harsh condition. Schizandra is thought to be especailly helpful to those who have experienced sexual trauma. One hundred berries a day can help you keep your sexuality at its peak until the day you die.

It’s an old joke that there isn’t enough blood for both the penis and the brain, so a man can’t think when he has an erection. That may explain why an herb that improves blood flow to the brain counters erectile difficulties, too. A dropperful of ginkgo leaf tincture before sex relaxes blood vessels, increases blood flow, improves lubrication and engorgement, and heightens response. Ginkgo is especially effective when fat deposits or diabetes restrict blood flow, and in men whose blood flow is not improved by papaverine injections, or where potency is diminished by antidepressants. Between 50–78 percent of men in trials using 60–240mg of standardized ginkgo daily for at least six weeks regained the ability to have regular erections. Continue for 12–18 months. Caution: Avoid ginkgo before surgery and if taking blood-thinning drugs.

Great-tasting fenugreek tea is a classic way to improve potency. To make it, put 6 tablespoons of seeds in a quart jar, fill with boiling water, steep 15–20 minutes, strain, and drink freely.

ginsengGinseng (Panax quinqifolium) improves sexual potency, especially in those who are overworked, overstressed, or over sixty. The proven and well-evidenced effects of taking at least 3 grams of ginseng daily include improvement in sperm production and motility, prolongation of the duration of coitus, heightening of libido by direct action on the higher brain centers, and a profound anti-fatigue effect with increased alertness and enhancement of coordination. Ginseng may increase LH and thus testosterone. It probably prevents deterioration of the adrenals, spleen, thymus, and thyroid. The Penobscot used it to increase fertility. Ginseng lowers stress hormones to enhance libido.

One of the most ancient of the sex herbs is the Indian tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) (terrible earth) fruit. One cup of tea or a dropperful of tincture taken 2-3 times a day can increase LH (and thus testosterone) in men and FSH in women. Regular use increases desire, performance, fertility, and mental clarity. Especially useful for those with diabetes  Tribulus capsules give me an “itch” for orgasm.

Ginger (Zingiber off.) aids sexual functioning. Regular use removes atherosclerotic plaque from penile blood vessels and increases circulation there. Snack on crystallized ginger, add  ginger to food, make ginger tea. Yummy.

A toke or two of good quality marijuana (Cannabis) has helped many women pick the lock on their “pleasure chest.” Too much can have the opposite effect; be moderate.

A cup of damiana (Tunera aphrodisiaca, T. diffusa, T. microphylla)leaf infusion daily or 15 drops of the tincture three times a day can counter a variety of sexual problems. It heightens sensation in the nerves, increases endurance, and promotes erotic dreams. Smoking the dried leaves improves her interest and his staying power. Damiana was a favorite sex herb of the Aztecs and the Mayans. It has been used by animal breeders to improve the chances of conception in high-strung livestock. Damiana is especially recommended for those who are anxious about sex.

Potency wood, muira puama, (Ptychopetalum olacoides, P. uncinatum) is a South American herb in the olive family that is famous for its ability to stimulate both  arousal and erection of the sexual tissues in those who are tired, run down, and weak. From 50–70 percent of those taking ½ cup of tea or 30  drops of tincture twice a day report intensification of libido, lessening of inhibition, and improvement in sexual pleasure. Caution: May lower blood pressure.

Yohimbe bark, (Pausinystalia yohimbe) from tropical west Africa, improves blood flow to the genitals and increases smooth muscle relaxation. It has no effect on testosterone levels; instead, it inhibits serotonin and acts to increase norepinephrine, which is essential for erections and which may decrease with age. Yohimbe is especially helpful for those with diabetes or heart disease. Yohimbe hydrochloride is the only FDA-approved anti-impotence herbal drug. Its effects on men — and women — include: increased stamina, heightened sensation, and greater desire. Consistent use of yohimbe tincture helps 81 percent of impotent men. According to Brigitte Mars, yohimbe increases blood flow to the genitals and prevents it from flowing back out of the genital sponges. It also affects the ganglion nerve center at the base of the spine and excites the sex center of the human brain in the hypothalamus.

Cautions: Do not use if you are young, old, or pregnant. Do not use more than twice in any week or even two days in a row. Yohimbe can lower blood pressure or cause kidney problems. It is a short-term MAO inhibitor; do not combine with high-tyramine foods such as bananas, cheese, chocolate, nuts, beer, red wine, red grape juice, sauerkraut, or aged meat; nor with tyrosine or phenylalanine supplements. Nor should yohimbe be used concurrently with antidepressants, sedatives, antihistamines, caffeine, or amphetamines. It may be agitating to the nervous system.

The favorite aphrodisiac and potency enhancer in Brazil is guarana. The peeled, dried, roasted, pulverized seeds of Paullinia cupana (or sobilis) are used. Guarana strengthens the nervous system increases desire and improves performance.

A tea of the stems and leaves of the orchid  Dendrobium nobile is favored by Taoists to build sexual energy.

like shellfish, fatty fish, eggs, bee pollen, and pumpkin seeds are known to improve potency. Seven more foods that aid erection: onions, savory, celery, lovage, lettuce, burdock root, and saffron. Two ounces of sunflower seeds supply 4 grams of erection-enhancing arginine. Other foods sources of arginine include: pine pollen, peanuts, sesame seeds (tahini and gomasio), almonds, Brazil nuts, lentils, chives, watercress, carob, and kidney beans.

Supplements that aid sexual functioning include arginine, L-dopa, L-choline, and pantothenic acid., stimulates erections and desire.

Arginine increases the effectiveness of ginkgo. It is a precursor to nitric oxide, which is essential to vasodilation and erection. For an extra boost, as many as 36 pills (18g) of L-arginine can be taken 45 minutes before intercourse. Arginine cream can be used directly on the penis, too. Caution: Diabetics, and those with shingles or herpes, should avoid L-arginine supplements.

L-dopa stimulates erections and desire. Fava beans and their sprouts are the best food sources. Supplements of L-tyrosine and L-phenylalanine are precursors; a dose is 100–500mg of each daily. Caution: Increases blood pressure. Do not use with yohimbe.

L-choline is an amino acid critical to erection. Supplementation with 1–3 g a day is effective. Caution: Causes stiffness of the upper back and neck, headache, diarrhea.

Taking vitamin B5, pantothenic acid, with L-choline leads to “longer and more pleasurable orgasms.”

Herbs, foods, and supplements definitely increase sexual desire, ability, and pleasure, but if you simply want stronger orgasms, just exercise! Twenty minutes of moderate exercise increases women’s genital engorgement by 168 percent. And the effect persists for hours. Daily practice of pelvic floor clenches helps men remain erect longer, too.

Green blessings.