Q. Dear Terry, “I have been on an antidepressant for over five years. My mood is stable, but my sex drive is almost non-existent. I know decreased libido is common with antidepressants. Is there anything I can try to naturally boost my libido?” – S.R., Ankeny, IA
A. Dear S.R., When it comes to increasing sexual desire and libido, I think there are some botanicals that can really make a difference. One class of botanicals in particular, called adaptogens, help to bolster resilience in the face of stress, reduce fatigue, and promote an overall sense of vigor. Some of my favorite adaptogens for increasing libido include red ginseng, ashwagandha, maca, and rhodiola.
While red ginseng has been well known as an enhancing herb for male sexual function, there is growing research that shows it is just as helpful for women, too. One clinical study involving women taking red ginseng showed it significantly improved their sexual arousal and desire. Other clinical work has shown that red ginseng boosted the sense of well-being and increased arousal, orgasm, and overall sexual satisfaction. The red ginseng I prefer is hydroponically grown in ultra clean conditions without pesticides.
Ashwagandha is another adaptogen that is well known for its ability to restore energy and increase resilience – both physical and mental. It’s also an incredibly helpful herb for restoring sexual desire. A pilot study found that ashwagandha improved multiple aspects of sexuality, including arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction. Researchers believe that key compounds, called withanolides, are primarily responsible for these effects.
Maca has a long-standing reputation for its beneficial effects on energy, mood, and sexual function. One clinical study involving women with serious sexual arousal or orgasmic dysfunction found that maca significantly improved their sexual experience, satisfaction, and libido in just three months. Maca compounds, including macamides, may be responsible for some of these effects through their ability to modulate hormone levels.
Rhodiola has also been clinically studied for its ability to reduce fatigue, promote resilience, and influence our neurotransmitters, especially the “feel-good” compounds. There’s even research showing that rhodiola affects natural compounds that improve our self-confidence, which may play a role for some women experiencing sexual dysfunction. I prefer rhodiola that is standardized to the key compounds, rosavins and salidroside.
I would take 5 mg of zinc (as zinc bisglycinate chelate), 100 mg of red ginseng, and 450 mg of a combination of maca, rhodiola, and ashwagandha. Please be patient, as the results will improve with continued use.
Terry . . . Naturally
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