Help Improve Sexual Function, Desire
May 5, 2004
-- From ginkgo to ginseng, from maca to horny
goat weed, natural aphrodisiacs are appealing to an
increasing number of Americans seeking to improve their sex
lives, researchers say.
more people are turning to complimentary and alternative
treatments for sexual dysfunction," says Richard P. Brown,
MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia
University in New York City.
Viagra has definitely revolutionized the treatment of
erectile dysfunction, it doesn't help libido and often has
only modest orgasmic quality. So people are looking
elsewhere," he tells WebMD.
annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association Brown
discussed some of the complimentary medicines that are
(also see Holy Basil)
plant that grows in artic regions of the world, Rhodiola can
boost sexual desire in both men and women, Brown says. "It's
also possible, although more study is needed, that it may
help premature ejaculation," he says.
one knows exactly how the plant improves sexuality, Brown
says "it probably works on the dopamine system in the brain
which is very important to sexual functioning and libido."
But there may be other effects, too, he adds.
Muskin, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry also at
Columbia University, and chair of the APA scientific program
appears to have a beneficial effect in enhancing sexual
function," he tells WebMD. "It improves satisfaction,
pleasure, erections, response to orgasms."
In fact, he
says, Rhodiola appears to help the body adapt to a variety
of life stresses.
that he has given the supplement to some of his own
patients, many of whom reported a new sense of sexual
less fatigue," he says. "Menopausal women say the cobwebs
for boosting mental power, the leaf extract of "the oldest
tree known to man" is also being used to treat impotence in
men, increasing the body's ability to achieve and maintain
an erection during sexual stimulation, Brown says.
studies show that like Viagra, ginkgo enhances the effects
of nitric oxide, which helps relax artery walls, allowing
more blood flow into the penis, he explains.
ginkgo, ginseng also increases nitric oxide levels and thus
is helpful for erectile dysfunction, Brown says. "But it
appears to have an effect on the dopamine system too and
this can help women as well as men."
recommends using the preparation called ArginMax, which has
been studied extensively.
study, sexual desire, satisfaction and orgasm improved in 25
of 34 women given the preparation. And in another study,
sexual desire and impotence improved in 21 of 24 men.
root that grows at high altitudes in Peru, can have powerful
effects on desire, erections, and orgasms, Brown says.
of epimedium, a leafy plant which grows in the wild, usually
at higher altitudes, horny goat weed has been said to
improve erectile dysfunction in men and libido in both
says, there really isn't "that much data out there. You have
to get the right preparation and most people don't know what
the two experts agree, that's one of the biggest problems
with herbal preparations in general. Because of poor
regulation, standardization, and labeling in the herbal
industry, there is no way to know if one product will work
as well as another.
importantly, it's hard to know how much of an active agent
is in many unregulated products, he says. Too much can
negatively affect not only sexual function, but other body
functions as well.
American Psychiatric Association 157th Annual Meeting, New
York, May 1-6, 2004.Richard P. Brown, MD, associate
professor, clinical psychiatry, Columbia University, New
York. Philip R. Muskin, MD, professor, clinical psychiatry,
Columbia University, New York.