Herbs for sex: How can Ayurveda support your sex life naturally?
Sex is a natural part of life, so it’s understandable that you’d want to take a natural approach when looking for ways to support it. Whether you’ve noticed a reduction in your libido, or you just want to maintain your usual sex drive, Ayurveda harnesses the power of herbs and your own body to help support your virility.
What is libido?
Libido is the desire for pleasure and satisfaction. According to Ayurveda, the ‘science of wellbeing’ that developed in India over 5000 years ago, this desire stems from the most subtle male and female reproductive tissues. Ayurveda also recognises everyone's sex drive is different and there's no such thing as a ‘normal’ libido.
In fact, it can vary with our dosha (Ayurvedic mind-body type) along these guidelines:
Vata types have an erratic sexual appetite but are quickly aroused. Due to this constitution’s variable and easily depleted energy levels, sexual activity is recommended every other week for them to stay in balance.
Pitta types have a passionate sexual appetite and strong desire but can energetically burn out quickly – if they’re not mindful. Once a week is recommended for them, especially if they are working hard.
Kapha types have a steady, regular appetite and good stamina. As they naturally have more energy, they can enjoy more frequent sex with two to three times per week.
You can try our dosha quiz here if you are not sure which you are.
Loss of libido is a common problem that affects many men and women at some point in their life. You don’t need to have a partner to experience its effects either, as it can also affect the desire to masturbate.
Having desire, getting aroused, or having an orgasm is difficult when your mind is at work, preoccupied with strained relationships, or worrying about financial difficulties or other sources of stress. Sex necessitates a surrendering to the moment which sometimes just isn’t compatible with busy lifestyles. If we don’t allow our body and mind time to recuperate from these periods of stress, then we risk becoming completely exhausted and unable to find the energy to complete simple daily tasks. Or enjoy sex!
Additionally, when there is weakness or debility in the reproductive tissue, libido will be low. A reduced sex drive is not an inevitable part of ageing, but it's also something many men and women experience as they get older. Loss of sex drive can also be a sign of an underlying medical issue, such as reduced hormone levels, so it’s worth speaking to a health practitioner if you are worried.
So, reducing levels of stress and strengthening the reproductive organs are key approaches to supporting sexual desire naturally. We are guided by Ayurveda’s approach to holistic health-addressing diet, lifestyle, sleep and the management of energy, including sexual energy.
Diet suggestions to support sex drive
Ayurveda believes that a lot of our vital energy (known as Ojas) is used up during orgasm. Foods which that are easily digestible and nourishing to all the tissues will promote the formation of ojas. Likewise, a good digestive fire will enable ojas to be formed. Anything that upsets our digestion will reduce the production of ojas. To support your libido naturally:
Favour foods that nourish our vital energy, such as ghee, almonds, coconut water, dates, honey and milk (especially organic raw cow’s milk, but goat and almond are also good substitutes).
Eat healthy fats which help with the production of hormones. So go for olive oil, flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, butter, coconut oil, avocado oil and oily fish which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Try to make dinner your smallest meal for most days of the week and avoid eating after 7pm to give time for your body to digest the meal fully. This also ensures your digestive process doesn’t disturb your sleep (or sex life!)
To replenish your energy after sex, try this Golden Milk of bliss recipe, with helpful herbs such as saffron and ashwagandha which can be made with dairy or non-dairy milk.
Lifestyle suggestions to support your natural libido
Take regular time out, even if it’s just 15 minutes to switch yourself off from screens and completely relax. Our vital energy is nourished by feelings of love, contentment and calm so finding daily ways to deal with stress is key. This is especially true for women when they are stressed, as the body’s resources that should be used for making sex hormones are diverted towards making stress hormones (adrenalin and cortisol). Meditation has become one of the most popular ways to take some time out and relieve stress. Why not check out some of our guided meditations here?
Getting enough sleep is also key, with research showing that shorter sleep duration and insomnia were both associated with decreased sexual function. Another study suggested that longer sleep duration was correlated with greater sexual desire the next day among women. Visit our Sleep Hub to explore some resources to help. It goes without saying that it also helps not to have screens in the bedroom and to use your bedroom for two things only:- sleeping and sex.
Exercise is a fantastic natural way to increase your libidosex drive . Plus, exercise is a great way to reduce stress. It’s important to find a way to move that feels right for you, so simply choose something that you enjoy, or find the best exercise for your dosha. If exercise is done outside, there is the added benefit of connecting with nature too.
Keep laughing. Laughter really is one of the best medicines. It can decrease stress and cortisol levels and improve your mood. Plus, a good sense of humour is very attractive.
Not in the mood for sex, but still craving connection? Use warmed coconut oil to give each other either a full-body or foot massage. Ayurveda places great emphasis on regular massage. Indeed, the Sanskrit word ‘Sneha’ is translated as both ‘oil’ and ‘love’ as it is believed the effects of a good massage are akin to the feeling of being saturated with love! Research supports that massage is an effective way to reduce anxiety and stress.
“Gentle, soothing and loving, massage is a fantastic way to become intimately acquainted. A central part of Ayurvedic living, it can be practised by anyone.” Sebastian Pole, A Pukka Life
Herbs for sexual energy
Ashwagandha is one of Pukka’s hero herbs. Its root has been used as a traditional rejuvenating tonic to help people of all ages with stress-related situations. Translated as ‘the strength of a horse or stallion’, its name also gives a clue to its traditional usage in Ayurveda as an aphrodisiac. However, ashwagandha is a particularly useful herb for female libido, as it has also been clinically shown to support women achieving sexual arousal and orgasm. As an adaptogen, it helps us deal with stress, nourishes the nervous system in both men and women and restores harmony. For these reasons, this balancing herb can be found in our Peace tea. The many other benefits and uses of Ashwagandha can be found in our 'what is Ashwagandha' article.
Shatavari is revered as primarily a ‘women’s’ herb in Ayurveda. It can be translated as ‘the woman who has 100 husbands’because of this herb’s affinity for strengthening the female reproductive system and boosting libido. It is a naturally nourishing, cooling and moistening herb that provides the required nourishment and strength to support women at all stages of life. As an adaptogen (like ashwagandha), it has a regulating effect throughout the body, buffering the harmful effects of stress. Shatavari is used in our Womankind tea. You can read more about this helpful herb in The Amazing Benefits of Shatavari. (pukkaherbs.com)
Rose is traditionally used to rejuvenate the reproductive system with its sweet, cooling properties. Rose petals are seen as having an affinity for the heart and have a long traditional use for lifting the spirits. It is seen as being able to open the heart chakra, increasing patience, compassion and love. The calming effect on the emotions and the heart are complemented by the aphrodisiac effect of this powerful plant, which is included in our Womankind, Love tea and Mint Refresh blends.
No matter how often you get it on, you can use Ayurveda’s timeless wisdom to enhance your sex life and to build your vital energy. The key advice is to approach sex as a form of nourishment and opportunity for a deep connection with your partner. As Dr Vasant Lad writes in his ‘Fundamentals of Ayurveda’, “When two people truly love each other and within that loving relationship they make love with awareness, they can transform ojas into profound bliss.”
Nrinderpal K, Junaid N, Raman B. (2013) A review on pharmacological profile of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha). Res Rev J Bot Sci 2(4): 6-14
Singh R. 2015. Asparagus racemosus: A review on its phytochemical and therapeutic potential. Nat Prod Res 30: 1896-1908
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Author: Jo Webber
Head of Herbal Education
As a B.Sc. qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher, Jo is passionate about bringing these two ancient sciences together to help people feel empowered about their health. Jo has put her post-graduate certificate in education to good use, co-founding the Ayurveda academy to help others learn of the wonders of Ayurveda. Jo has also earned a Masters degree in human sciences from Oxford University and has taught in several schools
B.Sc. qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher
Years of experience:
20 years as a Hatha yoga teacher/ayurvedic practitioner
Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association