Spice up your Valentine with natural aphrodisiacs

Velvet bean

Today is Valentine. Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14.

Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

Several reports have shown that lovers try to outdo each other on Valentine’s Day. They seek to satisfy their partners emotionally and sexually on this day.

Little wonder aphrodisiacs and foods of love are celebrated around this period.

An aphrodisiac is defined as any food or drug that arouses the sexual instinct, induces veneral desire and increases pleasure and performance. This word is derived from Aphroditae the Greek Goddess of love and these substances are derived from plants, animals or minerals and since time immemorial they have been the passion of man.

A lot of natural substances have historically been known as aphrodisiacs in Africa and Europe, like yohimbine and the mandrake plant, as well as ground rhinoceros horn in the Chinese culture and “Spanish fly” which is actually toxic. Even in today’s culture, there are certain foods that are used as aphrodisiacs, including strawberries and raw oysters. Chocolate, coffee, and honey are also believed to have aphrodisiac potential. Although these natural items are claimed as aphrodisiacs, there is no or little scientific confirmation supporting those assertions.

However, a study was published in the journal Pharmacognosy Reviews has explored scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs. Top on the list are: Nutmeg; Indian almond; Cattle stick; and Dates.

Besides plants, so many other natural remedies have been scientifically proven to improve libido.

According to Natural News Today, libido, or sex drive, naturally varies between individuals. Having a low sex drive is not necessarily a problem, but if a person wishes to boost their libido, they can try a range of effective natural methods.

Anxiety, relationship difficulties, health concerns, and age can all affect libido. While a low libido is not usually problematic, it can affect a person’s relationships and self-esteem.

There is a wide natural variation in people’s sexual desires and libido. It is important to note that having a lower libido than other people is not necessarily a bad thing.

However, if a person wants to increase their libido, there are many methods to try. These include eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, reducing anxiety, and focusing on improving intimate relationships.

Low libido is a complex issue, with relationship, psychological, and physical components. Knowing the cause can help a person find the best treatment.

Because low libido, or a sudden shift in libido, can be a sign of a health condition, it is safest to talk to a doctor before trying libido boosters.

Both males and females can boost their libido using the following methods:

Cattle stick or poor man’s candle (Carpolobia lutea)
More studies have validated the potential of a local herb, Carpolobia lutea; to boost sexual performance in men, brain function especially in old age, heal ulcers, among other diseases.

Carpolobia lutea, commonly called cattle stick or poor man’s candle belongs to the plant family polygalaceae. The common names, which the plant is known include cattle stick (English), Abekpok Ibuhu (Eket), Ikpafum, Ndiyan, Nyayanga (Ibibio), Agba or Angalagala (Igbo) and Egbo oshunshun (Yoruba).

Results of a study published in Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology suggest that methanol extract of Carpolobia lutea root (MECLR) enhances male sexual activity possibly by augmenting nitric oxide concentration.

The study provides a novel scientific rationale for the use of Carpolobia lutea in the management of penile erectile dysfunction and impaired libido.

NUTMEG… PHOTO CREDIT: https://tastessence.com/nutmeg-substitute

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
The dried kernel of broadly ovoid seeds of Myristica fragrans (Nutmeg) of the family Myristicaceae has been mentioned in Unani medicine to be of value in the management of male sexual disorders. In a study by Tajuddin et al., it was found that administration of 50 per cent ethanolic extract of a single dose of Nutmeg and Clove, and Penegra resulted in the increase in the mating performance of the mice. It was found that out of six control animals only two males mated (inseminated) two females and the remaining four males mated one female each during the overnight experimental period. Whereas, Nutmeg treated male animals mated three females each except two, which mated five females each. In the Clove treated male animals three mated two females each, two mated four females each and remaining one mated three females each. In the Penegra treated animals four mated five females each and two mated three females each.

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera, dabino in Hausa)
Phoenix dactylifera (date palm) of the family Palmae is a native to North Africa has been extensively cultivated in Arabia and Persian Gulf. The date palm pollen (DPP) is used in the traditional medicine for male infertility. In an experimental study by Bahmanpour et al. investigated the effect of P. dactylifera, pollen, on sperm parameters and reproductive system of adult male rats. They observed that the consumption of DPP suspensions improved the sperm count, motility, morphology, and Deoxy nucleic Acid (DNA)/genetic material quality with a concomitant increase in the weights of testis and epididymis.

Tropical almond (Terminalia catappa)
Terminalia catappa is a large tropical tree belongs to the family, Combretaceae a significant aphrodisiac potential. Ratnasooriya et al. observed that T. catappa seeds at dose of 1500 mg/kg or 3000 mg/kg, per oral for seven days in rats had a marked improvement of aphrodisiac action, sexual vigor. In contrast, the higher dose (3 000 mg/kg, p.o.) reversibly inhibited all the parameters of sexual behavior other than mounting.

Recent studies have shown that diabetes and its attendant complications (erectile dysfunction/premature ejaculation, leg ulcer/gangrene, liver/ kidney failure), lung cancer and sickle cell anaemia can be addressed with extracts of Indian almond. Nigerian and Indian researchers have regenerated the pancreas with Indian almond extracts thereby boosted blood sugar regulation, improved sexual and liver/kidney functions in diabetics.

According to a study published in Asian Journal of Andrology, male rats were orally treated with 1500 mg/kg or 3000 mg/kg SS or vehicle, and their sexual behaviour was monitored three hours later using a receptive female. Another group of rats was orally treated with either 3000 mg/kg SS or vehicle for seven consecutive days. Their sexual behaviour and fertility were evaluated on days one, four and seven of treatment and day seven post-treatment by pairing overnight with a pro-oestrous female. The estrous cycle comprises the recurring physiologic changes that are induced by reproductive hormones in most mammalian placental females.

The results showed the 1500 mg/kg dose, had a marked aphrodisiac action (prolongation of ejaculation latency) but no effect on libido-sexual desire- (per cent mounting, per cent intromission and per cent ejaculation), sexual vigour (mounting-and-intromission frequency), or sexual performance (intercopulatory interval).

In contrast, the higher dose (3000 mg/kg) reversibly inhibited all the parameters of sexual behaviour other than mounting-and-intromission frequency and copulatory efficiency. The effects of high dose SS were not due to general toxicity, liver toxicity, haemotoxicity, stress, muscle deficiency, muscle incoordination, analgesia, hypoglycaemia (reduced blood sugar) or reduction in blood testosterone level. They were due to marked sedation.

The researchers concluded that the kernel of T. catappa seeds has aphrodisiac activity and may be useful in the treatment of certain forms of sexual inadequacies, such as premature ejaculation. “The present findings show that seeds of T. catappa possess potent aphrodisiac activity and provides scientific evidence in favour of the claims made in Ayurvedic medicine in Sri Lanka regarding this action. The results also suggest that moderate consumption of kernel of seed of T. catappa could be useful in the treatment of men with sexual dysfunctions resulting primarily from premature ejaculation.”

Goat head (Tribulus terrestris)
Tribulus terrestris is a flowering plant in the family Zygophyllaceae. It is commonly called devil’s thorn, puncture vine, caltrop, yellow vine and goat head. It is a common herb in Nigeria.

To the French, it is croix de Malte and abrolhos in Portuguese. In Nigeria, it is dareisa in Arabic-Shuwa, tsaiji in Fula-Fulfulde, hana taakama in Hausa (prevents swagger, in allusion to its thorns piercing the feet-a common expression) or tsaida (to stop because if a thorn pierces the foot one must stop to extract it), kaije in Kanuri, tedo by the Koma people of Adamawa State and da ogun daguro in Yoruba.

Administration of Tribulus terrestris (TT) to humans and animals improves libido and spermatogenesis. Neychev et al. investigated the influence of T. terrestris extract on androgen metabolism in young males. The findings of study predict that T. terrestris steroid saponins possess neither direct nor indirect androgen-increasing properties.

It is also found to increase the levels of testosterone, leutinizing hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. The corpus cavernosal tissues obtained from New Zealand White rabbits following treatment with TT were tested in vitro with various pharmacological agents and electrical field stimulation and was found to have a pro-erectile effect. A study by Gauthaman et al. showed the androgen releasing property of the TT extract and its relation to sexual behavior and intracavernous pressure using castrated rats.

Fadogia agrestis (bakin gagai in Hausa)
Fadogia agrestis belongs to the plant family, Rubiaceae. It is called bakin gagai in Hausa, from gagai meaning aphrodisiac. It possesses significant aphrodisiac potential. Yakubu et al. evaluated the aphrodisiac potential of the aqueous extract of F. agrestis in Male rats. Their sexual behavior parameters and serum testosterone concentration were evaluated.

The results showed a significant increase in Mount Frequency (MF), Intromission frequency (IF) and significantly prolonged the ejaculatory latency and reduced mount and Intromission Latency (IL). There was also a significant increase in serum testosterone concentrations in all the groups in a manner suggestive of dose-dependence. The aqueous extract of F. agrestis stem increased the blood testosterone concentrations and this may be the mechanism responsible for its aphrodisiac effects and various masculine be haviors. It may be used to modify impaired sexual functions in animals, especially those arising from hypotestosteronemia.

Yakubu et al. studied the effects of administration of aqueous extract of F. agrestis stem on some testicular function indices of male rats. Compared with the control, extract administration for 28 days at all the doses resulted in a significant increase in the percentage testes-body weight ratio, testicular cholesterol, sialic acid, glycogen, acid phosphatase and g-glutamyl transferase activities while there was a significant decrease in the activities of testicular alkaline phosphatase, acid phosphatase, glutamate dehydrogenase and concentrations of protein.

Velvet bean or Cowhage (Mucuna pruriens, werepe in Yoruba and agbala in Ibo)
Another study published last year in BioMed Research International identified Mucuna pruriens as one of the plants used for improvement of sexual performance and virility.

Mucuna pruriens belongs to the plant family Leguminosae. The velvet bean plant is notorious for the spiky hairs on the mature bean pods that are very irritating to the skin.

Researchers have shown that Mucuna pruriens enhances fertility by producing a dose dependent increase in follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone which in turn increased the number of eggs released at ovulation possibly through its rich source of L-Dopa and its metabolite, dopamine.

The total alkaloids from the seeds of M. pruriens were found to increase spermatogenesis and weight of the testes, seminal vesicles, and prostate in the albino rat.

M. pruriens stimulated sexual function in normal male rats which was observed by increase in mounting frequency, intromission frequency, and ejaculation latency.

M. pruriens seed powder improved significantly various sexual parameters copulatory behavior including mount frequency, mount latency, intromission frequency, and intromission latency of the male albino rats. The ethanolic extracts of M. pruriens seed produced a significant and sustained increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats at a particular dose (200mg/kg). There is significantly increased mounting frequency, intromission frequency, and ejaculation latency and decreased mounting latency, intromission latency, postejaculatory interval, and interintromission interval.

In clinical studies, the treatment with M. pruriens seeds increased sperm concentration and motility in all the infertile study groups in man. After the treatment of extract the seminal plasma of all the infertile groups, the levels of lipids, antioxidant vitamins, and corrected fructose were recovered after a decrease in lipid peroxides after treatment Their was recovered sperm concentration significantly in oligo-zoospermic patients, but sperm motility was not restored to normal levels in astheno-zoospermic men.

M. pruriens significantly improved T, luteinizing hormone (LH), dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline levels and reduced levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and prolactin (PRL) in infertile men. It also significantly recovered sperm count and motility. M. pruriens treatment to infertile men regulates steroidogenesis and improves semen quality. Treatment with M. pruriens significantly inhibited lipid peroxidation, elevated spermatogenesis, and improved sperm motility of infertile male and also improved the levels of total lipids, triglycerides, cholesterol, phospholipids, and vitamin A, C, and E and corrected fructose in seminal plasma of infertile men.

M. pruriens significantly ameliorated psychological stress and seminal plasma lipid peroxide levels along with improved sperm count and motility. Treatment also restored the levels of Comparison of Seminal Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), catalase, glutathione (GSH), and ascorbic acid in seminal plasma of infertile men. It reactivates the antioxidant defense system of infertile men and also helps in the management of stress and improves semen quality.

Manage anxiety
According to Medical News Today, regular exercise and open communication can help prevent anxiety-affecting libido.

Having high levels of anxiety is a common barrier to sexual functioning and libido for both males and females. This may be anxiety due to life stress or specific sex-related anxiety.

People with an intense work schedule, caring responsibilities, or other life stresses may feel fatigued and, as a result, have a low sexual desire.

Anxiety and stress can also make it more difficult for someone to get or maintain an erection, which can put a person off having sex. A 2017 review of erectile dysfunction in young men has suggested that depression and anxiety can result in a reduced libido and increased sexual dysfunction.

There are many things that people can do to manage their anxiety and boost their mental health, including: practicing good sleep hygiene; making time for a favorite hobby; exercising regularly; eating a nutritious diet; working to improve relationships; and talking to a therapist.

Improve relationship quality
According to Medical News Today, many people experience a lull in sexual desire and frequency at certain points in a relationship. This may occur after being with someone for a long time, or if a person perceives that things are not going well in their intimate relationships.

Focusing on improving the relationship can increase each partner’s sex drive. This might involve: planning date nights; doing activities together outside of the bedroom; practicing open communication; and setting time aside for quality time with each other.
Focus on foreplay

According to Medical News Today, having better sexual experiences may increase a person’s desire for sex, thereby boosting their libido. In many cases, people can enhance their sexual experiences by spending more time on touching, kissing, using sex toys, and performing oral sex. Some people call these actions outercourse.

For women, foreplay may be especially important. According to some 2017 research, only around 18 percent of women orgasm from intercourse alone, while 33.6 percent of women report that stimulation of the clitoris is necessary for them to orgasm.

Get good-quality sleep
Getting good sleep can improve a person’s overall mood and energy levels, and some research also links sleep quality to libido.

A small-scale 2015 study in women suggested that getting more sleep the night before increased their sexual desire the next day. Women who reported longer average sleep times reported better genital arousal than those with shorter sleep times.

Eat a nutritious diet
Following a nutritious diet can benefit people’s sex drive by promoting good circulation and heart health, and by removing specific foods that can decrease libido.

Metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease can affect physical sexual functioning. Also, polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect hormone levels, which may also disrupt libido.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, low in sugar, and high in lean proteins can help prevent disorders that affect libido.

Get regular exercise
Getting regular exercise can help libido in many ways. A 2015 study of men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy, which lowers testosterone levels, found that regular exercise helped men cope with issues such as body image concerns, low libido, and relationship changes.

A 2010 review of women with diabetes cites research showing that exercise may help lower diabetes-related symptoms in women. The study emphasizes that doing exercises of the pelvic floor may be useful in women without diabetes.

Maintain a healthful weight
Some scientists link overweight and obesity to low sex drive, along with other factors related to reduced fertility. This is associated with hormonal factors, such as low testosterone concentrations.

Some people who are overweight may also experience psychological effects, such as lower body confidence.

Maintaining a healthy body weight can improve a person’s sex drive, both physically and psychologically. Eating a healthful diet and getting regular exercise can help achieve this, as well as boost a person’s overall energy levels.