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Naturopathy for better sex

From ancient medicine to aphrodisiacs - all you want to know.

Written by Mita Majumdar |Updated : May 21, 2015 10:38 AM IST

Loss of libido (sex drive) is perhaps the most common sexual dysfunction in men and women. It can be a temporary phase triggered by a physical or emotional cause, or it can be ongoing, in which case it is medically termed hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). Statistics reveal that about 20 percent of men suffer from loss of libido at some point in their life, and the number is far greater among women.

Sexual desire is a complicated affair involving the physical responses of the body as well as the emotions of desire and arousal. It is influenced by intimacy, culture, morality, predictability, sameness or newness, and other emotional triggers, and physical triggers such as certain medical conditions and low testosterone levels.

What causes low sex drive in women?

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What causes low sex drive in men?

  • In men, the most common cause of low libido is aging. This is because testosterone levels decrease rapidly as men age.
  • Castration, injury to testes, hydrocele, varicocele and anti-androgen drugs too cause testosterone deficiency in men.
  • Low sexual desire in men can also be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis of penile blood vessels, Peyronie disease, sickle cell disease, certain cancers, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, nerve diseases, and renal dialysis.
  • Infertility and erectile dysfunction are two conditions that are a big turn off for men.

Sex drive in both men and women can drop drastically due to depression, anxiety and stress.

How does naturopathy work?

Naturopathy is a stream of alternative medicine that stimulates the innate ability of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs. It blends scientific knowledge with traditional forms of medicine to treat the underlying cause of the disease through nutrition, exercise, psychotherapy and lifestyle advice.

How can naturopathy boost libido?

Basically, naturopathy targets the factors such as fatigue, stress, hormonal imbalance and your mental and emotional state to increase your sex drive. Your naturopath will try to get to the root of your low libido. You may have to go fo hormone tests to assess your cortisol levels, DHEA, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

They may also ask you to get a thyroid function test. Diabetes could also cause a low sex drive. You may have to get a diabetes test done.

Naturopathy works on the principle that each person is unique and will respond differently to physical, emotional, nutritional, social and cultural influences. So the treatment process differs from person to person. What suits you may not suit another.

Naturopathic treatment for better sex

There are more than 100 different herb extracts that are claimed to be aphrodisiacs to stimulate your sexual desire. Here are some of the herbs that have clinical evidence of their effectiveness.

  1. Damiana (Turneradiffusa) is an aphrodisiac that is said to stimulate libido in men and women alike. Mexican traditional medicine uses this herb extract to treat sterility, impotence, diabetes, and asthma. A study found that this highly appreciated plant aphrodisiac contains 22 flavonoids, 7 different compounds of glycosides, phenolics, and caffeine, and have proven antidiabetic, antiobesity, gastroprotective, hepatoprotective and aphrodisiac properties.
  1. Muirapuama (Ptychopetalumolacoides) has long been used in South American folk medicine as an aphrodisiac and sexual tonic for promoting virility and treating impotence. A number of studies have substantiated the use of the extract of this shrub for improving libido and treating erectile dysfunction. For example, Dr Jacques Waynberg and his colleagues at the Institute of Sexology in Paris conducted a study where they treated 262 men experiencing lack of sexual desire with 1 -2.5g of MuiraPuama extract per day for 2 weeks. Sixty-two percent of the patients reported dramatic improvement in their libido and 51 percent reported significant improvement in erectile dysfunction. Other benefits of the plant extract reported are improved sleep, reduction of fatigue and increased morning erections. Naturopathy experts believe that the herb is much more effective when there is no psychosomatic involvement.
  1. Panax ginseng, or ginseng as it is commonly known, is yet another herb used in Chinese traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac. It is also known for its cardiovascular protective activities. The word Panax means all-healing in Greek and is a reference to the root s supposed revitalizing properties for the whole human-body. The root extract works as an antioxidant (stress buster) by enhancing nitric oxide synthesis in the individual.
  1. Similarly a review of aphrodisiacs by Mayo Clinic researchers revealed that ambrein, a major constituent of Ambragrisea, is used in Arab countries for increasing libido by increasing the concentration of pituitary hormones and serum testosterone.

Sometimes zinc deficiency can be the cause of low sexual desire and it is linked to depression. Zinc deficiency can also result in significantly weakened immune function, poor wound healing and muscle loss. Zinc plays a significant role in reproductive capacity in men.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported thatinsufficient intake of zinc quickly lowers testosterone levels and reduces sperm count in otherwise healthy young men.

Oysters are perhaps the richest source of zinc. Three ounce of cooked oyster contains a whopping 74mg of zinc. Meat, especially red meats, is also a rich source of zinc. Red meats contain greater amounts of the mineral than white meats. A cup of low fat milk will provide 1mg of zinc, and half a cup of cooked kidney beans provide 0.9mg of zinc. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily requirement of zinc is 11mg for men and 8-9mg for women.

There is little argument that exercise is good for health including sexual health. Strength training is perhaps the best exercise for increasing testosterone levels as is evident from a long list of sports related studies. Exercising releases endorphins, reduces stress and increases energy which is vital if you want to have better sex.

However, some studies show that too much of cardio can actually have the opposite effect. Researchers have found that hypothalamic and testicular endocrine functions are suppressed with tough prolonged physical exercise. Serum testosterone is suppressed leading to impaired fertility capacity in men.

Ask your naturopath about how much and how often you need to exercise, and also ask for a weekly exercise regime customized for you.

How soon can you expect results?

As with all alternative therapies, naturopathy too can take its own time to bring about balance in your system. How soon you can see results will also depend on your physical and emotional constitution, how rigidly you follow the treatment and the accuracy of the remedy prescribed.

Says Claire Cooney, a naturopath from New South Wales, During the consultation we will look at what the realistic outcome may be for a given period of time and work together towards that. Monitoring your progress and making changes where necessary. The longer you have been imbalanced the longer the treatment time .

Side effects of naturopathy for better sex

Since the goal of naturopathy is to restore the patient to their original and innate state of wellbeing through the appropriate treatments you can hardly expect any side effects. Naturopathy is all about nutrition, exercise and counselling that suits your constitution. The modality does not encourage the use of overly invasive or harsh practices, so it can do no harm.

Kick start your sex drive with naturopathy!

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Reference:

  1. Maurice W. Sexual Medicine In Primary Care. 1st ed. USA; 1999:Part II, Chapter 9, Low sexual desire.
  1. Cooney C. Naturopathy Methods of Treatment how do they work? Anuna Natural Medicine. Anunacomau.
  1. Waynberg, J. Aphrodisiacs: Contributions to the Clinical Validation of the Traditional Use of Ptychopetalumguyanna. Presented at the First International Congress on Ethnopharmacology, Strasbourg, France, June 5 9, 1990.
  1. Safarinejad M, Azma K, Kolahi A. The effects of intensive, long-term treadmill running on reproductive hormones, hypothalamus-pituitary-testis axis, and semen quality: a randomized controlled study. Journal of Endocrinology. 2008;200(3):259-271. doi:10.1677/joe-08-0477.
  1. Szewczyk K, Zidorn C.Ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and bioactivity of the genus Turnera (Passifloraceae) with a focus on damiana--Turneradiffusa.Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2014 Mar 28;152(3):424-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.01.019. Epub 2014 Jan 24.
  1. Ali J, Ansari S, Kotta S. Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2013;7(1):1. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.112832.
  1. Hunt CD, et al. Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July, 1992; 56 (1): 148-57.

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