Plant Review for Improving Sexual Activity and Masculinity.
The use of plant or plant-based products to stimulate sexual desire and to enhance performance and enjoyment is almost as old as the human race itself. Various herbs have been used by people of different cultures to treat conditions of male infertility or for treatment of reproductive disorders. They have also been advocated for improving sexual desire as well as sexual performance and erectile dysfunction, vasodilatation, increased testosterone level, brain monoamines, effect on pituitary-gonadal axis, and so forth are suggested mechanism for its action of these herbs. A number of herbal drugs have been validated for their effect on sexual behavior and fertility and can therefore serve as basis for the identification of new chemical leads useful in sexual and erectile dysfunction.
Male reproductive capacity was found to be deficient in nearly 50% of infertile couples according to a study carried out by the World Health Organization in 1987. Since the time of the study, the situation has become even worse, since a modern stressful life style has enhanced the number of subject’s suffering from one form of sexual dysfunction or the other. Main factors that decrease the probability of conception in the female partner are frequently congenital, immunological, iatrogenic, or endocrine cause. Oligozoospermia, sexual, and ejaculatory dysfunction are further responsible for inability to conceive in numerous cases. Although many synthetic drugs are available and/or used to treat these problems, some of the drawbacks for these drugs include them being expensive and also their ability to provoke serious adverse effects, effective natural treatments are therefore still in demand.
The word “Aphrodisiac” is derived from “Aphrodite” the Greek goddess of love. By definition aphrodisiacs are the substance, which stimulate sexual desire. A variety of plants have been used as sex stimulants or sexual performance enhancer in traditional systems of medicine of various countries. Practitioners of Ayurveda the traditional system of medicine in India recognized the vital importance of virility and formulated Vajikarna therapy (Table 1). Modern day concept for the term “aphrodisiac” can be considered close to the Vajikarna concept defined in traditional texts of Ayurvedic medicine.
Vajikaran as a concept has been defined in the Rig Veda and the Yajurveda, the first written texts of medicine, in Ayurveda. Vajikarana herbs are also the basis for therapies recommended in Kamasutra, a treatise defining methods for appropriate sexual satisfaction amongst couples. An excerpt of the definition derived from these texts suggests that a youth in sound health taking regularly some sort of Vajikarana remedy may enjoy the pleasure of youth every night during all the seasons of the year. Old men, wishing to enjoy sexual pleasure or to secure the affections of women, as well as those suffering from senile decay or sexual incapacity, and persons weakened with sexual excesses may also use Vajikaran remedies. They are highly beneficial to handsome and opulent youths and to persons who have got many wives. According to Rasendra Sara Sangrah an ayurvedic text Vajikaran remedy makes a man sexually as strong as a horse (Vaji) and enables him to cheerfully satisfy the heat and amorous ardours of young maidens. Though in scientific terms these claims may represent a populous outlook, the popularity of Vajikaran in Ayurvedic system of medicine is nonetheless undisputed with numerous claims and textual references made to them during the course of human history.
The sexual inadequacies discussed in Ayurveda are of the following six types:
- A cessation of the sexual desire owing to the rising of bitter thoughts of recollection in the mind of a man, or a forced intercourse with a disagreeable woman (who fails to sufficiently rouse up the sexual desire in the heart of her mate) illustrates an instance of mental impotency.
- Excessive use of articles of pungent, acid, or saline taste, or of heat making articles of fare leads to the loss of the Saumya Dhatu (watery principle) of the organism. This is another kind of impotency.
- Virile impotency resulting from the loss of semen in persons addicted to excessive sexual pleasure without using any aphrodisiac remedy is the merit form of the virile impotency.
- A long-standing disease of the male generative organ (syphilis, etc.) or the destruction of a local Marma such as the spermatic cord destroys the power of coition altogether.
- Sexual incapacity from the very birth is called the congenital (Sahaja) impotency.
- Voluntary suppression of the sexual desire by a strong man observing perfect continence or through utter apathy produces a hardness of the spermatic fluid and is the cause of the sixth form of virile impotence.
Of the six foregoing types of impotency, the congenital form as well as the one due to the destruction of any local Marma (spermatic cord) should be regarded as incurable, the rest being curable and amenable to the measures and remedies antidotal to their respective originating causes.
Traditional Ayurvedic treatise classified aphrodisiac in the following five categories (a few plants have been provided as references for each kind of the therapeutic class defined):
- Drugs which increase the quantity of semen or stimulate the production of semen for example Microstylis wallichii, Roscoea procera, Polygonatum verticillatum, Mucuna pruriens and Asparagus racemosus.
- Drugs which purify and improve the quality of semen for example Saussurea lappa, Myrica nagi, Sesamum indicum, Vetiveria zizanioides and Anthocephalus cadamba.
- Drugs which improve ejaculatory functions for example Strychnos nux vomica, Cannabis sativa, Myristica fragrans and Cassia occidentalis.
- Drugs delaying the time of ejaculation or improving ejaculatory performance for example, Sida cordifolia, Asparagus racemosus, Cinnamomum tamala, Anacyclus pyrethrum, Mucuna pruriens and Cannabis sativum.
- Drugs arousing sexual desire, namely Withania somnifera, Asparagus racemosus, Datura stramonium, Anacyclus pyrethrum, Hibiscus abelmoschus and Opium.
Knowing the Ayurvedic basis for the role of Vajikarana herbs, it is important to understand the role of modern pharmacology and an insight into the control of the sexual behavior in the human body. Sexual arousal is dependent on neural (sensory and cognitive), hormonal, and genetic factors.
Drugs affecting sexuality can either act on the central nervous system (Brain) and/or on the peripheral nervous system. Drugs affecting the brain and presumably sex centers are generally attributed with an increase or decrease in sexual arousal. Drugs that affect peripheral nerves will not affect arousal directly but may affect sexual function. In some cases, drugs action is direct and involves chemical alteration of the neurons, which governs sexual arousal or function. Alternatively, some drugs may act indirectly by altering blood flow to the genitalia. Most hypotheses concerning the neurochemical basis of sexual behavior are derived from studies in animals, but in some cases support has been provided by clinical studies. Five major neurochemically distinct systems are supposed to work together for increasing sexual arousal. The transmitters include norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and histamine.
The following is a list of some of the many well-tested Ayurvedic and other traditional herbs, which have a long standing reputation as a cure for sexual dysfunction and which have been used in numerous preparations for improving sexual performance and fertility especially in case of males.
|Plant name||Part used||Extract used||Mechanism of action|
|Aframomum Melegueta||Fruits||Aqueous extracts||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Asparagus racemosus||Roots||Aqueous extracts||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Allanblackia floribunda||Stem bark||Aqueous and ethanolic extract||Inhibit the activity of the bulbospongiosus muscles|
|Allium tuberosum||Seeds||Butanolic extract||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Alpinia calcarata||Rhizomes||Hot Aqueous extract||Increase of sexual behaviour
|Argeria nervosa (syn. A. speciosa Sweet)||Fresh leaves, roots and flowers||Aqueous, ethanol, hexane extract||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Aspidosperma ulei||Root||Alkaloidal rich fraction||Increase penile erection|
|Anacardium occidentale||Leaf||Hexane extract||Increase fertility|
|Bulbine natalensis||Stem||Aqueous extract||Increase hormone level|
|Butea Frondosa||Bark||Aqueous extract||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Butea superba||Tuber||Ethanolic extracts||Increase penile erection|
|Basella alba||Leaves||Terpenoid or steroid compounds||Increased the blood testosterone concentrations|
|Boesenbergia rotunda||Rhizome||Ethanolic extract||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Casimiroa edulis||Seed||Aqueous extract||Improvement of sexual activity|
|Camellia sinensis||Leaves and buds||Aqueous extract||Increase of blood testosterone concentrations|
|Chlorophytum borivilianum||Roots||Ethanolic extract||Improvement of sexual activity|
|Cocculus hirsutus||Aerial part||Methanolic extract||Spermatogenesis|
|Crocus sativus||Stigma||Aqueous extract||Improvement of sexual activity|
|Cynomorium coccineum||Roots||Water extract||Increase spermatogenesis and increase sperm count|
|Diodia scandeus||Herb||Ethanolic extract||Potentiates the action of ACh and adrenaline|
|Dactylorhiza hatagirea||Tuber||Aqueous extract||Improvement of sexual activity|
|Epimedium koreanum||Herb||Aqueous and Ethanolic extract||Improvement of sexual activity|
|Epimedium brevicornum||Root||Aqeous extract||Increase Nitric oxide release|
|Fadogia agrestis||Stem||Alkaloids and Saponins||Increase the blood testosterone concentrations|
|Ferula hermonis||Root||Acetonic extract||Stimulated sexual motivation|
|Garcinia cambogia||Seed||Biflavonoid and xanthone||Increase sperm count|
|Hibiscus sabdariffa||Flowers||Anthocyanins||Increase sperm count|
|Hibiscus macranthus||Leaves||Terpenoid or steroid compounds||Increase the blood testosterone concentrations|
|Kaempferia parviflora||Rhizome||Alcohol extract||Increase in blood flow to the testis, Sexual behaviour|
|Lecaniodiscus cupanioides||Root||Aqueous extract||Increase testosterone level|
|Lepidium meyenii||Root||Aqueous extract||Spermatogenesis|
|Lithospermum arvense||Seed||Aqeous extract||Androgenic|
|Massularia acuminata||Stem||Aqeous extract||Stimulates male sexual maturation|
|Mondia whitei||Root||Aqueous extract||Increase in the testicular weight and serum and testicular testosterone|
|Mucuna pruriens||Seed||Chloroform extract||Spermatogenesis|
|Musa paradisiacal||Root||Aqueous extract||Increase testosterone level|
|Orchis latifolia||Root||Aqueous extract, Powder||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Panax ginseng||Root||Ginsenosides, saponin glycosides||Increase Nitric oxide central
nervous system action
|Panax quinquefolium||Root||Powder||Facilitates male copulatory behavior|
|Pausinystalia yohimbe||Bark||Yohimbine||Improves sexual behaviour and Penile erection|
|Peganum harmala||Seed||Powder||Improves semen quality, Spermatogenesis and organ weight|
|Pentadiplandra brazzeana||Root||Aqueous extract||Serum and testicular testosterone levels testicular cholesterol, the seminal vesicular fructose|
|Pfaffia paniculata||Root||Aqueous extract||Increase serum testosterone|
|Piper Gnineense||Fruits||Aqueous extract||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Psidium guajava||Leaves||Ethanol extract||Increase sperm count|
|Psoralea corylifolia||Fruits||Aqueous extract||Increase sperm counts, induces Spermatogenesis|
|Rhoicissus tridentata||Root bark||Chloroform and ethanolic extract||Relaxes the corpus cavernosal smooth muscle|
|Syzygium aromaticum||Flower buds||50% ethanolic extract||Improvement of sexual behaviour|
|Senecio cardiophyllus||Root||Aqueous extract||Increase the ejaculatory capacity|
|Securidaca longepedunculata||Root bark||Chloroform and ethanolic extract||Relaxes the corpus cavernosal smooth muscle|
|Tribulus terrestris||Fruits||Protodioscin||Androgen increasing property|
|Tribulus alatus||Aerial parts and fruits||70% alcoholic extract||Increase serum testosterone|
|Vanda tessellate||Root, flower||Aqueous and ethanolic extract||Stimulates sexual behaviour|
|Wrightia natalensis||Root bark||Chloroform and ethanolic extract||Relaxes the corpus cavernosal smooth muscle|
|Withania somnifera||Root||Aqueous extract||Spermatogenesis|
|Zingiber officinale||Root||Aqueous extract||Increase of both testis weight and serum testosteronelevels|
*information from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/868062/ resource