Alternatively Speaking: Getting in the mood

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: Any recommendations for herbs to help boost a woman's sex drive?

Yoga class (photo credit: Natalie Marx)
Yoga class
(photo credit: Natalie Marx)
Q. Dear Natalie, I have been suffering from a lack of libido for the last few months and it is beginning to affect my relationship. Can you recommend any herbs that can help boost a woman's sex drive? Thank you.
A. There are many female aphrodisiacs or sexual desire-enhancing herbs which are commonly used by women around the world. You might want to begin by trying some natural aphrodisiac herbal oils such as jasmine, ylang ylang and sandlewood. Each of these provide aphrodisiac and sexual stimulation for the senses and you can combine these oils during a massage.
Jasmine oil helps to warm and relax the body, sandlewood has a musky smell that arouses the senses, while ylang ylang works by enhancing sexual stimulation.
The herb Yohimbe is a tree bark that comes from Africa and is often referred to as the natural Viagra. It enhances sexual and sensual sensations and also stamina for both men and women. In women particularly, Yohimbe increases blood flow and circulation to the female organs, boosting sensation and engorgement of genitals.
I also recommend a spoonful of the popular Muira Puama (known also as Ptychopetalum olacoides). This herb from the Amazon river is taken from the bark of the muirapuama tree. It both enhances and stimulates a woman's libido and is also a hormone supporting herb by increasing sexual hormone production and increasing blood flow to the pelvic area, thereby increasing sensation and sensitivity. It can be taken in liquid form, tablets or caplets.
It's also worth making a tea from the Damiana Leaf. This plant has been used in Mexico for hundreds of years for increasing circulation and sensitivity to genitalia. The herb increases sensitivity in the female organs and enhances pleasure while at the same time supports hormone system health. You can buy the leaf extract from most natural health food stores. Use approximately one teaspoon of leaf extract per eight ounces of hot water. 
Finally, the herb supplement of ginko biloba helps to increase all-around sexual function and health in women. It works to balance levels of estrogen and progesterone in the female body and helps improve sexual drive. I recommend one ginko biloba supplement one to two times a day.
Q. Dear Natalie, are there any foods which can help boost female libido? Since I have been taking the contraceptive pill my sexual desire has decreased and I wondered if I can enhance it somehow by changing my diet?
A. Female libido can heavily depend on the production of the hormone Testosterone. The production of testosterone depends on your body receiving nutrients which are in many of the foods we eat. Women can increase their levels of testosterone naturally by including more of the following foods.
As well as an excellent source of nutrition, avocado has a high Vitamin B6 level, which helps to increase testosterone production. Avocados also contain potassium, which works to regulate the female thyroid gland and thereby enhances female libido levels.
Try including more asparagus in your diet. Asparagus helps stimulate your testosterone production since it is rich with Vitamin E. Asparagus is also an excellent source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, Vitamin B6, folic acid and Vitamins A and C.
Folic acid also increases female histamine production, which helps women achieve orgasm. Bananas contain many of the B-vitamins such as riboflavin and potassium, both of which produce testosterone.
Soya foods are an excellent choice for enhancing the sexual experience for women. The soy binds estrogen (female sex hormone) receptors and this helps the vaginal area remain lubricated during intercourse.
When you are next preparing your salad or stew, I recommend reaching for some extra basil. Basil works by stimulating the sex drive and increasing female fertility. Basil also helps improve circulation, having a warming effect on the body, which also enhances female libido.
Just 1 tbsp. daily of flaxseed can help increase testosterone. Flax also has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that serve as major building blocks for sex hormones.
Finally, you'll be delighted to know that the myth is true - a box of chocolates can do more than just taste good. Chocolate triggers a release of endorphins while providing small amounts of tryptophan, which also reduces anxiety. The caffeine in chocolate can also help to arouse. If you enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, add a sprinkle of nutmeg because it can stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, thereby assisting in relaxation.
Q. Dear Natalie, I have heard that the Kegel exercise can help increase libido in women. Is this true and if so, how?
A. It is certainly true that by focusing on your physical health, sexual sensations can help increase libido. Kegel exercises are designed to tighten the pelvic floor muscles and can therefore increase sexual enjoyment and thereby libido. As well as helping with urinary continence, our pelvic floor muscles help provide enjoyable sensations during sexual activities. By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles it can increase your awareness of your sexuality and help you direct your focus on enjoyable sensations.
You can try the kegel exercises yourself; first empty your bladder, and then lie down on your back on the floor. Relax and contract your pelvic floor muscles, and hold for a count of five. Slowly relax your muscles, counting again to five while releasing the contraction. Rest for a few seconds and repeat the exercise. Continue to breathe regularly throughout the exercise. I recommend that gradually working up to three sets of 10 repetitions per day. You can also increase your contraction to hold each squeeze for a count of 10, relaxing for approximately 10 seconds between the contractions.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.To book a free 15 minute consultation with Natalie, email [email protected] She will advise which treatment is best for your individual needs; Reflexology, Homeopathy, Massage or Flower Remedies including nutritional advice. There is no obligation to book a treatment following the free consultation.