In Asia, American Ginseng Root is commonly included in health supplements and herbals used for assisting with sexual dysfunction. Recent studies in laboratory animals have shown that both Asian and American forms of ginseng enhance libido and copulatory performance. These effects of ginseng may not be due to changes in hormone secretion, but to direct effects of ginseng, or its ginsenoside components, on the central nervous system and gonadal tissues. Indeed, there is good evidence that ginsenosides can facilitate penile erection by directly inducing the vasodilatation and relaxation of penile corpus cavernosum. Moreover, the effects of ginseng on the corpus cavernosum appear to be mediated by the release and/or modification of release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells and perivascular nerves. Therapy with American ginseng also affects the central nervous system and has been shown to significantly alter the activity of hypothalamic catecholamines involved in the facilitation of copulatory behavior and hormone secretion. Recent findings that ginseng therapy decreased prolactin secretion also suggested a direct nitric oxide-mediated effect of ginseng at the level of the anterior pituitary.
Tribulus terrestris has been used by weight lifters for years, especially during the last 10 days prior to competition. Active components are plant steroids, flavonoids, alkaloids, and glycosides. Tribulus has been shown in at least one study to increase levels of natural testosterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone and steroids without any harmful side effects. Some may find increased stamina beneficial for developing muscle size and strength.
Other positive changes observed in a number of cases were a reduction of cholesterol and positive psychological effects such as improved mood and increased self-confidence. No adverse effects were noted in any of the clinical studies. Additional research using animals demonstrated no adverse effects on the central nervous or cardiovascular systems. Administration of Tribulus had a mild diuretic effect in several cases in the human trials.
Puncture weed has long been used in Asia as a stimulant to help address sexual "deficiency."
The benefits of addressing impotence with muira puama have been studied in two human trials in France, which reported that muira puama was effective in improving libido and addressing erectile dysfunction. In a Paris, France, study among 262 male patients who experienced lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain or maintain an erection, 62% of the patients with loss of libido reported that the extract of muira puama "had a dynamic effect," and 51% of patients with erectile dysfunction felt that muira puama was beneficial. It may not be Viagra, but studies show it helps. In other recent clinical research, muira puama extracts have been reported to have in vivo adaptogenic, antifatigue, antistress, and CNS effects in humans and animals. Other studies show that it may play a role in reducing body fat percentage, increasing lean muscle mass and lowering cholesterol in humans and animals with long-term use (and with no toxicity noted).
Nettles, or urtica dioica, is an herbal extract of nettle root that has been used in Germany for more than a decade to address enlarged prostates and has been shown to reduce symptoms by 86% after 3 months of use. Urtica does this by inhibiting the binding of a testosterone-related protein to receptor sites on prostate cell membranes. Nettle is particularly effective when used in combination with saw palmetto. Whereas saw palmetto protects against prostate enlargement caused by DHT, nettle root is required to inhibit the proliferation of prostate cells in response to estrogen and SHBG.
Mucuna pruriens is the world's most concentrated natural source of a compound called L-DOPA. L-DOPA is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine,[fn] Raina AP, Khatri R. "Quantitative Determination of L-DOPA in Seeds of Mucuna Pruriens Germplasm by High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography." Indian J Pharm Sci. 2011 Jul;73(4):459-62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374567/ [/fn] and dopamine works as one of the best natural human growth hormone (HGH) releasers by stimulating the pituitary gland to increase its production of HGH. High levels throughout life of the body's own natural growth hormone (not hormones from the synthetic injections) is known as a major key for human longevity.
Dopamine also increases the production of other hormones such as testosterone. In that regard, it should be noted that any increase in testosterone triggered by Mucuna pruriens never throws the endocrine system out of balance; Mucuna merely "improves" levels which tend to decrease over time in the average person. Not surprisingly, most of the studies on Mucuna's ability to raise testosterone were done on males,[fn] Mahajan GK, Mahajan AY, Mahajan RT. "Efficacy of aphrodisiac plants towards improvement in semen quality and motility in infertile males." J Complement Integr Med. 2012 Feb 17;9:Article 6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22499723 [/fn] but the effect is just as notable in females.
And finally, Mucuna pruriens also functions as an aphrodisiac--one that is very potent at increasing libido for both men and women.[fn] Lucia Raffaella Lampariello, Alessio Cortelazzo, et al. "The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens." J Tradit Complement Med. 2012 Oct-Dec; 2(4): 331--339. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942911/ [/fn]
In addition to helping to free up bound testosterone, saw palmetto has been proven to help the prostate in two additional ways. First, it inhibits the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, which causes natural testosterone to be converted into a substance called dihydrotestosterone, which stimulates the growth of prostate tissue. Secondly, saw palmetto has been proven to exert an anti-inflammatory effect on prostate tissue.
In addition, studies have shown that saw palmetto contains compounds that directly inhibit inflammation.
And finally, aging muscles also tend to lose suppleness and vigor. When saw palmetto is used regularly, muscles plump up.
In the years following the European conquest of Central and South America, Damiana herb has been associated with improving sexual function in both males and females.
In Holland it is renowned for its sexual enhancing qualities and positive effect on the reproductive organs. The pharmacology of the plant suggests that its alkaloids could have testosterone-like actions.
Damiana herb is a major component of countless herbal remedies, aphrodisiacs, love potions and impotence cures.
Curiously, damiana herb is also a pleasant mood enhancer that leaves many people with a feeling of happiness and well-being.
Both men and women need and produce natural testosterone in their bodies -- although in differing amounts. It is testosterone, in both men and women, that is responsible for:
Unfortunately, once we reach our thirties, available natural testosterone levels for both men and women tend to begin diminishing with age. Interestingly enough, in a 1986 clinical study, it was documented that it's not actual natural testosterone production that decreases as we age; but rather, it's the amount of free circulating testosterone that decreases -- as more and more of it gets bound to albumin and becomes unavailable for the body's use. These changes happen in connection with a natural substance called "sex-hormone-binding-globulin" or "SHBG."
Fortunately, wild oats can reverse this process, increasing free testosterone levels an astounding 105% on average!!
In addition, SHBG binds not only natural testosterone, but all of the sex hormones including estradiol (one of the "active" estrogens found in both men and women). Normally, this binding serves as a storage system for excess hormones, but in men there is an additional problem.
SHBG also has an affinity for prostate tissue. In effect, SHBG can serve to bind estrogen to cell membranes in the prostate. This causes an increase in PSA secretion -- a prime factor in future prostate problems. Wild oats and nettles work together to reverse this binding process, thereby reducing the likelihood of prostate problems.
A number of studies have demonstrated turmeric's prostate protective effect. For example:
A study conducted in Japan on curcumin, another name for turmeric, showed positive results in preventing as well as curing prostate cancer. According to lead researcher, Dr Shigeo Horie, "After six months we saw PSA went down by 50 per cent. High PSA can be either due to cancer or inflammation of the prostate. Curcumin can control both."
Also, a 2012 study published in Cancer Research found that turmeric slows the growth of prostate cancer cells and can give a boost in treating the disease for men receiving androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). It seems that turmeric blocks the action of two receptors in the cells that work against ADT - p300 and CPB, also known as CREB1-binding protein.
And finally, other research has shown that turmeric increases the male sex libido.
Kola nut is a stimulant in its own right, but also serves to "drive" other herbs into the blood. In addition, kola nut helps increase oxygen levels in the blood.