Although more research is needed, certain foods like ginko biloba and saffron may increase your libido. However, aphrodisiac foods can also have side effects.
An aphrodisiac is a food or drug that arouses sexual instinct, arouses desire, or increases sexual pleasure or performance. A myriad of pharmaceutical drugs are available and marketed specifically for their libido-boosting effects. However, some people prefer natural alternatives because they are generally safer and have fewer side effects. It should be noted that many aphrodisiacs are not backed by scientific evidence, and some natural products may have negative effects. If you’re considering trying a supplement, talk to your doctor first. This article reviews 7 scientifically proven aphrodisiacs that can boost your libido.
Maca is a sweet root vegetable that has several health benefits. In South America, people commonly use it to boost fertility, and its nickname is “Peruvian Viagra”. It grows mainly in the mountains of central Peru and is related to cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage. An animal study found an increase in libido and erectile function in rodents after consuming maca. Other studies suggest that maca may boost libido in men as well. A small study indicated that maca may help reduce the loss of libido that commonly occurs as a side effect of certain antidepressant medications. Most studies provided 1.5–3.5 grams of maca per day for 2–12 weeks. Participants generally tolerated these intakes well and experienced few side effects. However, more studies are needed to determine safe dosages and long-term effects.
Tribulus terrestris, also known as bindii, is an annual plant that grows in dry climates. Supplement producers often claim that it can boost libido.
Studies have suggested it may increase testosterone levels in some animals, but science has not proven it can increase testosterone levels or fertility in humans.
Limited evidence suggests it may help boost sexual function and desire in both men and women.
3. Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement derived from one of the oldest tree species, ginkgo biloba. Traditional Chinese medicine uses it to treat many conditions, including depression and disorders of sexual function. Ginkgo biloba is said to act as an aphrodisiac by helping to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. Nevertheless, studies have yielded mixed results. In 1998, for example, a small study reported that ginkgo biloba reduced loss of libido caused by antidepressant use in approximately 84% of participants. Both male and female participants reported feeling an increase in desire, arousal, and the ability to achieve orgasm after consuming 60-240mg of the supplement daily, although the effects seemed more pronounced among the participants. However, this is a low quality study, the results of which may not be reliable.
A more rigorous follow-up study was published in 2004. This study found no improvement in a similar group of participants who took ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo biloba is generally well tolerated, but it may act as a blood thinner. Therefore, if you are taking blood-thinning medications, consult your doctor before taking ginkgo biloba.
4. Red ginseng
Ginseng is another popular herb in Chinese medicine. A particular type of ginseng, red ginseng, is commonly used to treat a variety of ailments in both men and women, including low libido and sexual function. Several studies have observed that red ginseng is more effective than a placebo in improving erectile function. Additionally, a small study found that red ginseng may improve sexual arousal during menopause. However, these results are not universal, and some experts question the robustness of these studies. They warn that more research is needed before drawing any firm conclusions. In most studies, participants took 1.8 to 3 grams of red ginseng daily for 4 to 12 weeks.
Ginseng is generally well tolerated, but it may interfere with blood-thinning medications and the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers. In some cases, ginseng can also cause headaches, constipation, or minor stomach upset.
Fenugreek is an annual plant grown around the world. Its seeds are most often used in South Asian dishes, but it is also popular in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory and libido enhancer. And it may be for a good reason: this plant seems to contain compounds that the body can use to make sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. In a small study, men who took 600mg of fenugreek extract daily for 6 weeks reported increased sexual arousal and more orgasms.
However, this supplement also contained 17 mg of magnesium, 15 mg of zinc, and 5 mg of pyridoxine, which may have contributed to these results. Zinc is a nutrient that plays a key role in male fertility.
Similarly, a small study looked at the effects of a daily dose of 600 mg of fenugreek extract in women who reported having a low libido. Study results showed a significant increase in sexual desire and arousal in the fenugreek group at the end of the 8-week study, compared to the placebo group. Fenugreek is generally well tolerated, but may interact with Trusted Source blood-thinning medications and cause mild stomach upset. Additionally, due to its influence on sex hormones, fenugreek may also interfere with the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers.
People have been eating pistachios since 6,000 BC. They have nutritional value and are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats. Pistachios may have a variety of health benefits, including helping to lower blood pressureTrusted Source, manage weightTrusted Source, and reduce the risk of heart disease. They can also help reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. In a small study, men who ate 100 grams of pistachios daily for three weeks saw increased blood flow to the penis and firmer erections.
Experts have suggested that these effects may be due to pistachios’ ability to improve blood cholesterol levels and stimulate better blood circulation throughout the body.
However, this study did not use a placebo group, which makes it difficult to interpret the results. Further studies are needed before strong conclusions can be drawn.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. Native to Southwest Asia, it is one of the most expensive spices in terms of weight. This spice is often used as an alternative remedy to help treat depression, reduce stress, and improve mood. Additionally, saffron is also valued for its potential aphrodisiac properties, especially among people taking antidepressants.
One study observed that a group of men who took 30mg of saffron daily for 4 weeks experienced greater improvement in erectile function than men who received a placebo. A follow-up study in women reported that those in the saffron group experienced higher levels of arousal and increased lubrication, compared to those in the placebo group. Nevertheless, studies on the aphrodisiac properties of saffron in people without depression show inconsistent results.
Well-Known Aphrodisiac Foods That Are Not Backed by Strong Scientific Evidence
Several other foods are said to have aphrodisiac properties, but there is very little scientific evidence to support these claims.
Here are some popular examples:
Chocolate: Cocoa compounds are often touted as having an aphrodisiac effect, especially in women. However, studies provide little evidence to support this belief.
Oysters: Although one study reports that they may have libido-boosting effects in rats, no studies confirm the libidinous properties of oysters in humans.
Chasteberry: Studies suggest that this fruit may influence hormone levels and reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women. However, there is no evidence that it offers benefits for libido.
Epimedium: It is popular in traditional Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as erectile dysfunction. Cell and animal studies provide initial support for this use, but human studies are needed.
Hot peppers: It is popularly believed that capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their heat, stimulates nerve endings in the tongue, causing the release of chemicals that boost libido. However, there are no studies to support this belief.
Alcohol: Alcohol can act as an aphrodisiac, helping men and women relax and get in the mood. However, heavy alcohol consumption can reduce arousal and sexual function, hence the importance of moderation.
What you must remember
When it comes to boosting libido, the list of foods with potential aphrodisiac properties is very long. However, only a small fraction of these supposed aphrodisiacs are actually backed by science. If you want to try the science-backed options, you can start with small amounts and increase the dosage based on your personal tolerance. It is also important to note that natural aphrodisiacs can interact with certain medications. If you are currently taking medication, be sure to consult your doctor before trying these foods and herbs.