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Maybe you’ve seen some late night TV ads about natural herbs for male enhancement and are wondering if there’s any truth to their efficacy. Maybe you just need a little help in the bedroom and want to know if libido boosting herbs are for you. Whatever your reason, here’s everything you should know about the science behind herbs for sexual health.
When you were college-aged, herbs for sexual health probably weren’t something that even crossed your mind. Back then, things like arousal, stamina, and libido were simply second nature; but feeling “ready to go” actually involves a remarkable number of biological steps.
Your hormone balance, mood, and other factors like your body’s ability to produce enough nitric oxide all come into play when it’s time to perform, and even one of these “triggers” misfiring can be enough to affect your ability to have the kind of sex life you want. With that being said, let’s take a look at 3 natural herbs for male enhancement that address some of these different factors of a man’s sexual desire and performance to help support the sexual health you’re after.
Every spring, male deer, elk, and moose begin growing new sets of antlers for the mating season. A bull elk’s antlers may grow up to an inch a day, reach lengths over 4 feet, and weigh more than 40 pounds. But what does this have to do with natural herbs for male enhancement? Since these antlers grow so quickly, they need some kind of nourishment. A type of soft, furry skin covering them called velvet provides it thanks to the blood vessels it’s laced with, and it just so happens that this velvet holds some powerful properties as an herb for sexual health.
In a 2015 study, doctors tested the effects of velvet antler extract on aging animals’ sexual behavior and testosterone levels. At the start of the study, all of the subjects had low testosterone levels. But, after 5 weeks of taking velvet antler, testosterone levels had gone up, with the velvet antler group also becoming more sexually active.1 Another study involving male weightlifters unveiled some of the raw power behind this ingredient. After 10 weeks of taking velvet antler, participants made significant gains in body composition, lower body strength, and aerobic capacity.2
There are some stunning facts about the chemical composition of velvet antler that can help explain its effects, even going beyond the realm of sexual health and male enhancement. It’s rich in Type II collagen and chondroitin sulfate, and also contains growth factors and other substances like prostaglandin that are linked to muscle growth, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, and promoting relaxation of smooth muscle (an important component of erectile function).3 Some other bonus benefits of velvet antler include:
That’s a pretty good track record for a natural ingredient that’s primarily viewed simply as a libido boosting herb!
Eucommia ulmoides, more commonly referred to simply as eucommia, is a small tree native to China. Throughout the history of Eastern herbalism, it’s been highly prized as a natural ingredient used for everything from boosting mental clarity, to promoting heart health, and even supporting bone health.5 As a result, it holds a spot as one of Chinese medicine’s “50 Essential Herbs”. But, what’s most interesting is it’s properties as a natural herb for male enhancement.
In a 2006 animal study, scientists gave eucommia extract to subjects with erectile issues caused by penile nerve problems for 4 weeks. At the end of the study, the eucommia group’s penile nerves appeared fairly healthy, and their bodies produced higher levels of an enzyme that triggers the release of nitric oxide, another key component of sexual function. Furthermore, the eucommia group also initiated sex with females more often, and exhibited improved erectile function.6
Another similar study looked at antioxidant defenses in penile tissues. Subjects given eucommia showed higher levels of superoxide dismutase, an important natural antioxidant also known as SOD. The eucommia group also had higher levels of alpha-actin, a protein that helps control the ability of smooth muscles to be able to contract, including those that manage erections.7
Last but not least on this list of herbs for sexual health is an amazing plant with a mouthful of a name. Xanthoparmelia scabrosa is actually a lichen, meaning it’s essentially algae and fungi living together in harmony. This makes for a symbiotic relationship that’s one of mother nature’s more complex “inventions” and, as such, it’s no real surprise that such an unusual botanical possesses some unusual powers.
In this case, these powers come from the compounds that Xanthoparmelia Scabrosa contains which can help to block the action of an enzyme called PDE5.8 This enzyme is found throughout different tissues in the body, including the corpus cavernosum in the male reproductive system responsible for causing and maintaining erections. As it turns out, blocking this enzyme is really good news for men who experience some trouble in the bedroom.
The full biochemical explanation of why this is gets fairly heavy, but the short of why Xanthoparmelia Scabrosa is regarded as an herb for sexual health is nice and simple. Similarly to the nitric oxide we mentioned earlier, a compound in the body called cGMP relaxes smooth muscle tissue. As such, it plays an important role in erectile function by facilitating men’s ability to become and stay erect. PDE5 breaks down cGMP which, in turn, can serve to hamper proper erectile function. Follow a bit of simple logic, and you can see why blocking PDE5 gives Xanthoparmelia Scabrosa it’s reputation as a natural herb for male enhancement!
Hopefully this exploration of three intriguing herbs for sexual health has given you some fresh perspectives on the kinds of natural options men can look into when it comes to improving their time spent in the bedroom. As always, make sure to speak with your doctor first and foremost when it comes to any issues with your sexual health, and ask them if any herbal supplements you plan on taking are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to learn more about sexual wellness, make sure to check out our articles on Sex and Prostate Health and Sex and Aging, both of which are full of valuable information you might be missing.