7 aphrodisiac foods that increase your libido

An aphrodisiac is defined as a food or drug that awakens the sexual instinct, provokes desire or increases pleasure or sexual performance.

Naturally, aphrodisiacs are a hot topic, as evidenced by the large number of pharmaceutical drugs available and marketed specifically for their effects of increased libido.

However, some people prefer natural alternatives, as they are generally safer and tend to have fewer side effects.

This article reviews 7 aphrodisiacs backed by science that can increase your libido.

1. Maca

Maca is a sweet vegetable with several health benefits.

In South America it is commonly used to increase fertility, even with the nickname "Peruvian Viagra". It grows predominantly in the mountains of central Peru and is related to cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage (1).

Maca is one of the few popular natural aphrodisiacs backed by science.

Studies in animals report increases in libido and erectile function in mice and rats fed maca (2).

And maca seems to have effects of increased libido in humans too. Four high-quality studies reported that participants experienced greater sexual desire after consuming maca (3, 4, 5, 6).

In addition, a small study suggests that maca can help reduce the loss of libido that is commonly experienced as a side effect of certain antidepressant medications (7).

Most studies provided 1.5 to 3.5 grams of maca per day for 2 to 12 weeks (8).

Participants generally tolerated these intakes well and experienced few side effects. However, more studies are needed to determine safe doses and long-term effects.

Summary: Maca is a sweet root vegetable that can help increase libido.

2. Tribulus

Tribulus terrestris, also known as bindii, is an annual plant that grows in dry climates.

It is commonly used to help improve athletic performance, infertility and loss of libido (9).

This supplement is also backed by some science. Studies in animals report an increase in sperm production in rats. Tribulo supplements (10).

Another study found that 88% of women with sexual dysfunction experienced an increase in sexual satisfaction after taking 250 mg of Tribulo per day for 90 days (11).

In addition, a group of researchers examined the effect of Tribulo in women with sexual dysfunction, giving them 7.5 mg of the extract per day.

After four weeks, the women received Tribulo reported significantly higher levels of desire, excitement, lubrication and satisfaction with orgasm (12).

That said, more research is needed to evaluate the optimal dosage, as well as the effects of Tribulo Supplements in men.

Summary: the Tribulus terrestris The plant may have aphrodisiac effects in women. More research is needed to evaluate optimal doses of Tribulo, as well as its effects on men.

3. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement derived from one of the oldest tree species, the Ginkgo biloba tree.

It is popular in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for many diseases, including depression and poor sexual function.

It is said that ginkgo biloba acts as an aphrodisiac by helping to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow (13).

However, the studies have produced mixed results.

For example, a small study reports that ginkgo biloba reduced the loss of libido caused by the use of antidepressants in about 84% of participants.

Both the male and female participants said that they experienced greater desire, enthusiasm and ability to reach orgasm after consuming 60-120 mg of the supplement daily, although the effects seemed stronger in the female participants (14).

However, a follow-up study did not observe improvements in a similar group of participants who took ginkgo biloba (15).

Ginkgo biloba is generally well tolerated, but it can act as an anticoagulant. Therefore, if you are taking blood thinning medications, be sure to consult with your health professional before taking ginkgo biloba (16).

Summary: Ginkgo biloba may have aphrodisiac effects, but the results of the study are inconsistent. The herb may also interact with anticoagulants, so consult your doctor before using it.

4. Red ginseng

Ginseng is another popular herb in Chinese medicine.

A particular type, red ginseng, is commonly used to treat a variety of diseases in men and women, including low libido and sexual function (9).

Several studies have investigated its use in men and found that red ginseng was at least twice as effective as placebo in improving erectile function (17, 18).

In addition, a small study in menopausal women found that red ginseng can improve sexual arousal (19).

However, these results are not universal. In addition, some experts question the strength of these studies and warn that more research is needed before solid conclusions can be drawn (20, 21).

In one study, participants took 1.4 to 3 grams of red ginseng daily for 4 to 12 weeks (17).

This and another study found that people generally tolerate ginseng well, but it can interfere with anticoagulant medications and the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers.

In some cases, ginseng can also cause headaches, constipation or minor stomach discomfort (17, 22).

Summary: Red ginseng is a popular herb that can help stimulate sexual desire and erectile function in men and sexual arousal in women. However, more robust studies are needed to confirm these effects.

5. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is an annual plant grown around the world.

Its seeds are most commonly used in South Asian dishes, but it is also popular in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory treatment that stimulates libido.

And perhaps this is for a good reason: this herb seems to contain compounds that the body can use to produce sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone (23, 24).

In a small study, men who received 600 mg of fenugreek extract per day for six weeks reported experiencing an increase in sexual arousal and more orgasms (25).

Similarly, a small study investigated the effects of a daily dose of 600 mg of fenugreek extract in women who reported low sexual desire.

There was a significant increase in sexual desire and arousal in the fenugreek group at the end of the eight-week study, compared to the placebo group (26).

Fenugreek is generally well tolerated, but may interact with anticoagulant medications and may cause a minor stomach upset (27).

In addition, due to its influence on sex hormones, fenugreek can also interfere with the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers (9).

Summary: Fenugreek can help increase sexual desire and excitement in men and women. People who take anticoagulant medications should avoid it.

6. Pistachio Nuts

People have been eating pistachios since 6,000 BC.

They are very nutritious and particularly rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats (28).

Pistachios can have a variety of health benefits, such as helping to lower blood pressure, control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease (29, 30, 31).

In addition, they can also help reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

In a small study, men who consumed 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of pistachios per day for three weeks experienced an increase in blood flow to the penis and firmer erections (32).

Experts have suggested that these effects may be due to the ability of pistachios to improve blood cholesterol and stimulate better blood flow throughout the body.

However, this study did not use a placebo group, which makes interpretation of the results difficult. More studies are needed before we can draw firm conclusions.

Summary: Pistachio nuts seem to increase blood flow, contributing to firmer erections. However, more studies are needed before solid conclusions can be drawn.

7. Saffron

Saffron is a spice derived from the Crocus sativus flower. It is native to Southwest Asia and one of the most expensive spices by weight.

This spice is often used as an alternative remedy to help treat depression, reduce stress and improve mood (33).

In addition, saffron is also popular for its potential aphrodisiac properties, especially in people who take antidepressants.

One study found that a group of men who received 30 mg of saffron per day for four weeks experienced greater improvements in erectile function than men who received a placebo (34).

A follow-up study in women reported that those in the saffron group experienced higher levels of arousal and increased lubrication, compared with those in the placebo group (35).

However, studies on the aphrodisiac properties of saffron in individuals who do not suffer from depression produce inconsistent results (36, 37, 38, 39).

Summary: Saffron can help increase sexual desire in people who take antidepressant medications. However, the results in other groups remain mixed.

Well-known aphrodisiac foods that are not backed by solid scientific evidence

Several other foods are promoted to have aphrodisiac properties. However, its effects of increased libido are often supported by very little scientific evidence.

Here are some of the most popular of these questionable foods:

  • Chocolate: The compounds in cocoa are often touted to have an aphrodisiac effect, particularly in women. However, studies provide little evidence to support this very popular belief (40).

  • Oysters: Although one study reports that they may have some effects of increased libido in rats, there are no studies supporting the properties of libido improvement in oysters in humans (9, 41).

  • Chasteberry: Studies suggest that this fruit can influence hormone levels and reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women. However, there is no evidence that it offers any benefit to increase libido (42, 43).

  • Honey: It has been used supposedly for centuries to bring romance to marriages. A variety called "crazy honey" is even marketed as a sexual stimulant. However, no studies support this, and may contain dangerous toxins (9, 44, 45).

  • Epimedium: Also known as goat weed in heat, it is popular in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diseases such as erectile dysfunction. Studies in cells and animals provide some early support for this use, but studies in humans are needed (46, 47).

  • Hot Chiles According to popular belief, capsaicin, the compound that gives hot peppers their spicy flavor, stimulates the nerve endings in the tongue, causing the release of chemicals that stimulate the sexual impulse. However, no study supports this belief.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol can act as an aphrodisiac by helping men and women relax and get in the mood. However, excessive consumption of alcohol can reduce excitement and sexual function, so moderation is key (48, 49).

Summary: The supplements mentioned above are often said to help increase sexual desire. However, there is currently limited scientific evidence to support their use as aphrodisiacs.

The bottom line

When it comes to increasing sexual desire, the list of foods with potential aphrodisiac properties is very long.

However, only a small proportion of these alleged aphrodisiacs are backed by science.

If you are interested in trying the options supported by science, you can start with small amounts and increase the dose according to your personal tolerance.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that natural aphrodisiacs can interact with some medications.

If you are currently taking medications, be sure to check with your health care provider before trying these foods and herbs.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/aphrodisiac-foods


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