Like hormone levels, weight, or even eye color, everyone’s baseline sex drive is unique and individual. And from just having had a baby to feeling drained by your job, a multitude of factors can end up quashing your libido.
To ramp up your libido, though, there are certain foods and supplements that may help. Here are six all-natural libido boosters backed by science.
As if you needed another reason to love the sweet stuff, research published in the South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that noshing on antioxidant-rich cocoa and chocolate can trigger the release of neurotransmitters phenylethylamine and serotonin, which can produce aphrodisiac and mood-lifting effects.
Other research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that although the effect may be due to wishful thinking (as opposed to a direct physiological reaction), eating chocolate is, in fact, associated with bolstered sexual function in women.
2. Gingko biloba
You’ve probably heard about Gingko extract, because, well, it’s just about everywhere. The herb gets a good rep because it helps to improve vascular flow to the genitals, according to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
“Yohimbe is an evergreen tree that grows in western Africa in Nigeria, Cameroon, the Congo, and Gabon,” explains Gabrielle Francis, a naturopathic doctor and chiropractor who runs The Herban Alchemist. “Yohimbe bark extracts are widely promoted online and in health food stores as a natural to increase libido.”
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Published research, like one study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, has found that taking the extract led to increased sexual activity. (However, as with any herb, you’ll do well to speak with your health care provider before trying yohimbe, as it’s contraindicated if you suffer from some heart or mental health conditions or are taking certain drugs.)
An amino acid (a building block of protein) you can take as a supplement, L-arginine has numerous functions in the body. Arginine becomes nitric oxide (a blood vessel-widening agent called a vasodilator) in the body, and research shows it may help promote increased vasodilation—which may be helpful for men.
5. Tribulus terrestris
“Tribulus terrestris is an herb that has been used in the traditional medicine of China and India for centuries,” Francis explains. Extracts from the plant’s root, fruit, or leaves are used in a medicinal way, and it has shown promise at boosting women’s sexual desire. A study published in the DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that when women took 7.5 mg of the extract a day for four weeks, they experienced a notable increase in desirous feelings.
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6. Korean red ginseng
Also known as Panax ginseng, this herb has been used to address sexual dysfunction and low desire in men and women for years. One recent study, published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, had premenopausal women take either three ginseng capsules (1 g per capsule) or placebo daily.
Researchers concluded that the extract, and not the placebo, improved sexual function (desire, arousal, and orgasm). And in a Journal of Sexual Medicine study, menopausal women also benefited from the extract