Aphrodisiacs to support sexual health


Dr Merlin Thomas

Merlin Thomas is a physician and a scientist. His research laboratory is at the JDRF/ Danielle Alberti Memorial Centre for the study of Diabetes Complications at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.
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As we age, we don’t necessarily lose our  sexual desires. On average, older people have sex as often as younger people, yet while age is no obstacle to good sex, it does impact significantly on our sexual functions.

Women might take longer to attain the vaginal lubrication needed to make sexual intercourse comfortable and set the stage for climax, and their orgasms may decrease in number and intensity.  Men can take longer to obtain and maintain erections sufficient to enable satisfactory sexual intercourse.

Our decline in sexual function need not be a barrier to sexual enjoyment, provided our specific needs are recognized and met (with lubricants, topical creams and sufficient stimulation or foreplay, etc). Here we outline foods and herbs that might help to grease the wheels of progress toward enjoying a healthy sex life as we age.

Aphrodisiac foods:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Artichokes and asparagus
  • Mussels and oysters
  • Strawberries
  • Truffles
  • Tomatoes
  • Rocket (may be just the name?!)

Aphrodisiac herbs and roots:

Aphrodisiac For men, women, or both How it is supposed to work
Extract of Yohimbe Bark,
For men This is prescribed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Some users also report a cumulative improvement in their sexual function and libido over time. Low dose preparations of yohimbe bark are also available over-the-counter, but should be used with caution as many contain toxic alkaloids besides yohimbine. Side-effects can include rapid pulse, sweating and panic reactions in some people.
Nettle Root For both sexes Extracts of nettle root can boost active testosterone levels in both men and women.
Asian Ginseng
For both sexes This can increase sexual performance and libido, as well as reduce stress. This effect is not seen with American or Siberian Ginseng.
Withania For men This Indian herb can maintain vitality and improve sexual performance in older men.
Ginkgo For men This can have a positive effect on sexual function and erectile dysfunction in men.
Horny Goat Weed For both sexes This traditional Chinese herb that boosts sexual performance, possibly by modifying hormonal signalling. In the long-term, these may have some negative effects in men, such as breast enlargement.
Tribulus Terrestris For both sexes Supplements containing Tribulus Terrestris (also known as Yellow Vine, Caltrop or Goathead) are widely used to increase libido. It probably acts by increasing active testosterone levels, but may also have direct effects on erectile function.
Arginine For men This may improve erectile function by increasing blood flow to the stimulated penis in much in the same way as Viagra does, although its actions are less selective.
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