Stress and other lifestyle factors are real passion-killers, but herbs could help you relax and restore your libido, writes medical herbalist Pamela Spence
According to Relate, only a third of UK adults are satisfied with their sex lives, compared to just under half in 2015. One in 5 say low libido or differing sex drives is placing a strain on their relationship. Yet we are surrounded by sexualised images from the media to the supermarket – so what’s going on?
Some researchers think the digital age is bringing our bedtime shenanigans to a screaming halt. More and more of us are taking devices into the bedroom and using bedtime to chat to friends and answer emails, rather than turning to our partners for some distraction-free intimacy. Added to that, the fast pace of daily life leaves many of us exhausted and in need of rest, or using every waking moment to keep up with massive to-do lists. Not such a great turn-on.
The truth is that lots of different things can affect our libido: stress; anxiety; money worries; job concerns; performance anxiety. Add to that busy schedules, no down-time, having children, not having children. On a more chemical level, hormones need to be in balance for the psycho-sexual hormonal cascade to occur. It’s complicated.
So when people ask me about aphrodisiacs my answer is usually not so straight forward! Sure, there are herbs (and foods) which have a reputation for raising interest but, until the underlying issue is addressed, they are limited in effect. So downing platters of oysters is not the answer!
Getting to the root of the problem is key. If stress or anxiety is part of your reality then calming herbs like chamomile, valerian and lime flower could be helpful for you. However, it’s important to know that no herb can sort out an over-packed schedule! But herbs could help give you the inner calm to make some healthy diary decisions.
It’s important to rule out other physical causes of low libido such as hormone imbalances in women or heart disease and diabetes for men. Once those things have been addressed, and underlying stress has been dealt with the herbal aphrodisiacs can begin their work.
Damiana has a long history of use and can be particularly helpful for women during the menopause. Medical herbalists also prescribe Shatavari also known as ‘She of 100 Husbands’ for women where anxiety and hormonal imbalance are the root cause.
For men, the Ayurvedic tradition of herbal medicine suggests Gingko Biloba to be the best male tonic. And, of course, Horny Goat Weed pictured above (which doesn’t get its name for the reason you are currently thinking!)
Whatever is keeping your libido lying low, there is help available. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you take prescription medication, book in to see your local medical herbalist for safe, expert advice through troubled waters.
Pamela Spence MNIMH is a medical herbalist based at The Carrick Clinic in Prestwick and the Paisley Natural Therapy Centre. She has had her own BBC online series, is regularly spotted in print and is the sole herbal advisor to Twinings International. Find out more here
To find a medical herbalist in your area, visit the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.