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DIET FOR SEX DRIVE AND SEX ENHANCEMENT

 

Need to spice up your sex life? All the ingredients you need may be found at your local grocery store.

Like many aspects of health, our sex drive is affected by what we put into our bodies. Certain foods affect the body in different ways. Depending on what you consume, wining and dining a date can induce more sleep than romance. A big, fancy dinner, a bottle of wine and fine chocolates may sound sweet — but such meals are actually little more than empty calories.

To really get your blood going, consider circulation-enhancing dishes. Food that's high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, salmon and wild salmon are best. "Omega-3 makes your nervous system function better," says Dr. Barbara Bartlik, assistant professor of psychiatry and sex therapist with the Human Sexuality Program at Weill Cornell Medical Center. "Sex is really about circuitry." Multivitamins and minerals will help, too. Both improve neurological function, which contributes to good circulation.

Grab some granola
Improved circulation results in greater erectile response. To accomplish that, go for food rich in L-Arginine, such as granola, oatmeal, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, dairy, green vegetables, root vegetables, garlic, ginseng, soybeans, chickpeas and seeds. Studies show that L-Arginine is helpful for improving sexual function in men. There haven't been studies done on women — but remember, erectile response isn't just a guy thing. "Women have erections too: in their clitoris and the tissue surrounding the vulva," says Bartlik.

Humans have sought ways to enhance or improve their sex lives for millennia — and have never been reluctant to spend money to make themselves better lovers. The ancient Romans were said to prefer such exotic aphrodisiacs as hippo snouts and hyena eyeballs. Traditional Chinese medicine espoused the use of such rare delicacies as rhino horn. Modern lovers are no less extravagant. In 2005, for example, according to Amsterdam-based health care information company Wulters Kluwer, Americans spent just under $1.4 billion to treat male sexual dysfunction disorders alone.

Of that amount, Viagra rang up $1.2 billion in sales for Pfizer, or 60 percent of the total market. Among the other drugs trying to find their way into American's bedside tables and back pockets are Levitra and Cialis.

There is a difference, of course, between helping sexual dysfunction and arousing our passions.

Aphrodisiacs, for the most part, have been shown to be ineffective. Named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sex and beauty, these include an array of herbs, foods and other "agents" that are said to awaken and heighten sexual desire. But the 5,000-year tradition of using them is based more on folklore than real science. "There is no data and no scientific evidence," says Leonore Tiefer, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. "Product pushers are very eager to capitalize on myths," she says.

Most libido-enhancing products offer short term benefit at best, according to Dr. John Mulhall, director of the Sexual Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian and associate professor of urology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Mulhall, who also sits on the Nutraceuticals Committee of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, says, "Every year, we review the literature on these compounds — these nutraceuticals like nitric oxide and ginseng — and there are none that have really been shown to be more than a placebo."

When it comes to sexual function, the placebo effect probably accounts for 30 percent of improvements in men and around 50 percent in women, he says. That means there are a lot of people out there who believe a pill they are taking or a food they are eating is doing a lot of good for them sexually. In reality, their mind is doing all the work.

So, besides renting "The Story of O" and opening a bottle of red wine, what can people do to kick-start their sex life?

For a good time, try soy
One thing they can do is change their diet. Soy, for example, binds estrogen receptors, which helps the vaginal area remain lubricated and combats symptoms of menopause — particularly hot flashes. Studies have shown that soy is also beneficial to the prostate, a crucial male sex organ. However, it's important to note that women who have a history of breast cancer should not eat large amounts of soy, because the binding of estrogen receptors actually increases the risk of reoccurrence.

Foods that promote weight loss also hold libido-boosting potential. "There has been very solid research showing that obesity is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction and low testosterone," says Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh, director of the New York Center for Human Sexuality and associate professor of urology at Columbia University's medical school. "Reducing weight," he says, "results in an increase of testosterone, and thus an increase in sexual function."

'Good for your heart, good for your penis'
"From an erection standpoint, anything that's good for your heart is good for your penis," says Dr. Mulhall. Too much saturated fat can, over time, clog arteries and, in doing so, prevent an adequate flow of blood from reaching the genital region. This not only interferes with the ability to perform, but also with sexual pleasure. Too little fat, on the other hand, is also bad.

 

"You need fat to produce your hormones," says Beverly Whipple, professor emerita at Rutgers University and president of the World Association for Sexology. "Cholesterol is metabolized in the liver, and you get your testosterone and estrogen, which you need for your sex drive," she says. Olive oil, salmon and nuts are optimal sources of the "good" kinds of fats —monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

According to Dr. Judith Reichman, author of "I'm Not in the Mood: What Every Woman Should Known about Improving Her Libido," medical and hormonal problems are major contributors to sexual dysfunction and a low libido — but so are too much stress, relationship difficulties and psychological issues. Antidepressants, such as Prozac by GlaxoSmithKline and Paxil by Eli Lilly, can negatively affect sex drive as well.

Step 1:
Eat foods high in omega-3. These foods include the highly regarded sexual aphrodisiac, oysters, because of the legendary tale of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Oysters also are loaded with Zinc, which boosts testosterone and stimulates sexual desires. Also high in Zinc, sardines, salmon, caviar and scallops are considered to enhance sex and romance.

Step 2:
Have a glass of champagne or wine. Its been proven that wine prevents artery clogging, allowing for a better blood flow to the sexual organs. Drinking any type of alcohol can be inhibition lowering and increases romantic thoughts, however, too much can decrease desires. Champagne has been noted for enhancing romantic moods and is also called the drink of love.

Step 3:
Add some spice to your diet and spice up your sex life at the same time. While most spices add heat when ingested, they can also add heat to your sexual experiences. Curry, cumin and chili pepper are spices that enhance sex, as well as having an exotic smell that actually can enhance romance. Cayenne is especially used by men because of the increased blood flow, enabling them to have longer lasting sex with a stronger and more intense pleasure.

Step 4:
Choose chocolate for a sweet tooth and for a sweet sexual experience. Chocolate produces a release of serotonin which can be stimulating to physical contact desires and also sedating in lowering inhibitions. Eating dark chocolate changes blood sugar levels leading to sexual excitement. When its time to pick dessert, a good choice to enhance sex and romance with food, pick something with rich, dark chocolate.

Step 5:
Look in your cabinet for stimulants that you use frequently. Cinnamon and nutmeg are commonly used spices for enhancing food taste, however, they can also be used as a sexual stimulant. Nutmeg is sweet and aromatic and is thought to strengthen and enhance romance and sexual prowess. Cinnamon can be used as a romance enhancer in foods and can also be an erotic stimulator when rubbed into the sexual organs.

 

If you want good sex, take care of your heart. That's what author Lynn Fischer advises in her book The Better Sex Diet. She's not talking about looking after your emotional state (although that could be the subject of another book), but minding the system that runs the muscular organ inside your chest. After all, she says men and women of all ages need good blood flow to the genitals for arousal and erections. Many people with clogged arteries may, well, have trouble.

To prevent such a misfortune, Fischer prescribes a low-fat diet that is based on the medical findings of Dean Ornish, MD. His research has shown that heart disease can be reversed with a low-fat diet, moderate exercise, and stress management.

Fischer's diet follows Ornish's vegetarian 10%-fat diet, but adds some meat to the regimen. Overall, a week of the Better Sex Diet would involve eating lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, getting 10% of calories from fat, 5% from saturated fat, and 75% from carbohydrates.

Six weeks of this can reportedly enhance your sexual vitality, potency, and health. Sound too good to be true? Maybe not. While none of the experts contacted by WebMD endorsed Fischer's diet, all of them said that a program that's friendly to the heart should also be good for sex. In fact, anything that promotes whole body health can apparently also enhance action in the bedroom.

"A diet that's healthy for you overall will be healthy for your sex life -- period," says Julie Walsh, MSRD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Myths and Truths

People throughout history have used aphrodisiacs, believing that certain edibles heighten pleasure between the sheets. Oysters and alcohol are two popular examples in today's society. There are also reports, such as a recent MensHealth article, that single out foods such as eggs, vanilla ice cream, and celery as helpful aids. Another television news piece from Florida says grapes, cereal, and blueberries can do the trick.

Many of these claims are based on the idea that particular vitamins and nutrients in some foods can boost an aspect of sex. For example, the vitamins in eggs can supposedly reduce performance anxiety and premature ejaculation, the calcium in vanilla ice cream evidently makes orgasms more powerful, and the folic acid in cereal keeps arteries clear, enhancing blood flow to the right places.

Food science professional Mary Ellen Camire, PhD, encounters all sorts of theories about why certain edibles improve sex life, and sometimes she just has to laugh. She says it's true that some vitamins and nutrients have particular benefits, but too much of one thing can also have a negative effect on the body. Blueberries, for instance, have been touted as a good aid for improving blood flow to the genitals. Consuming too much of the fruit, however, can cause diarrhea.

Camire recommends a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good attitude. "If you're having a nice meal and you're with a partner you like, that's all you need," she says. "It's as much in the mind as with anything else."

Barnaby Barratt, PhD, president-elect of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, couldn't agree more. He says a happy sex life ultimately depends upon ridding oneself of shame, guilt, anxiety, and inhibition. "Sex is first and foremost a psychological issue," he says. "Above and beyond that, things to do with food, diet, and so forth will be useful, but they're not going to provide magical answers."

Psychology is so powerful, notes Barratt, that for some people who believe in aphrodisiacs, specific foods may very well make them feel sexually alive and vigorous. Others may also find great pleasure in playing with food (such as licking whipped cream off of a partner's body) that it enhances the sexual experience.

The Sweet Smell of Sex

The mere scent of food and other items may be enough to sexually arouse men and women, according to research by Alan R. Hirsch, MD, FACP, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Hirsch conducted two studies that measured men and women's reaction to different smells. One study measured blood flow to the penis, and the other to the vagina.

The results: Men appeared to be turned on most by a combination of smelling lavender and pumpkin pie, and women by Good and Plenty candy and cucumber.

There's no surefire explanation for the findings, says Hirsch, who theorizes that the favored smells may remind people of their childhoods. Such nostalgia can supposedly reduce anxiety and inhibitions, thereby increasing blood flow to the genitals.

Previous research has shown that smells are important in attraction, says Barratt, but those studies have mainly focused on people's scents. "Clearly, we do know that how people smell has an effect on the sexual desire of a partner," he says, noting that a body's scent has a lot to do with the person's diet.

Herbal Sex Booster

 

Review Summary

Herbal sex booster is a fairly standard sexual enhancement supplement that includes a wide array of ingredients. It not only contains herbs that may help to boost the libido, but also several ingredients that may support overall reproductive health. Most physicians agree that a healthy body is one of the most important factors in maintaining healthy erectile function. Unfortunately, these ingredients are becoming more and more common, so there is little to distinguish this supplement from the numerous other performance enhancers currently available.

Ingredients At A Glance

Herbal Sex Booster contains: Siberian Ginseng Powder, which may promote greater stamina and endurance; Spirulin Powder, blue-green algae that contains a wide array of vitamins and minerals; Guarana Extract, a Brazilian fruit that acts as a stimulant and is often combined with herbal aphrodisiacs; Maca Powder, a Peruvian root that may increase potency and virility; Ginkgo Biloba Extract, which improves blood flow; Niacin, to maximize blood flow and sensory benefits; Damiana Powder, which may help increase potency as well as boost sex drive.

Yohimbe Extract, to increase the flow of blood to the genitals; Muira Puama Powder as an aphrodisiac; Bee Propolis to support urinary function; Oat Straw, which is thought to increase the amount of free testosterone in the blood; Catuaba, to boost energy and increases libido; Cayenne, which has been shown to support cardiovascular health; L-Carnitine, an amino acid that may help to metabolize food into energy; and L-Glutamine, which is thought to increase nitric oxide levels in the body, thus improving blood flow.

Ingredients In Focus

Yohimbe is a tree that grows throughout western Africa. Natives of the region have ingested the bark for centuries to enhance sexual prowess and as an aphrodisiac. It has also been used in traditional medicine to treat angina and hypertension. It is thought to stimulate the pelvic nerves, as well as increase blood flow to the genitals of both men and women. It has been favorably recognized by the FDA as a treatment for erectile dysfunction for a number of years.

Lifestyle Benefits

Perhaps the most apparent selling point of Herbal Sex Booster is the fact that it contains the very popular and very effective herb Yohimbe. Unlike prescription drugs that have no effect on the libido, Yohimbe stimulates the portion of the brain that controls sex drive as well as increases circulation to the genitals. This action helps to produce erections that are fuller-feeling and longer lasting.

However, the effectiveness of a supplement also depends largely on the quality and concentration of its herbs, and with such a lengthy ingredient list, it is very possible that Herbal Sex Booster does not contain enough of Yohimbe or any of its other components to produce significant results.

Positives

• Contains Yohimbe
• Contains mostly natural ingredients
• Website ships internationally

Negatives

• Website does not post testimonials
• Does not post clear descriptions of each ingredient
• No free trial sample available
• Website does not include an FAQ section

Final Thoughts

A number of complications, both mental and physical, can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Fortunately, some herbs can offer fairly quick relief from these conditions, if taken correctly. Although Herbal Sex Booster contains several adaptogens and vasodilators, its product description does not offer details on their concentrations, making it quite difficult to determine the product’s effectiveness.

Those who are new to sexual enhancement might also be confused by Herbal Sex Booster’s long list of ingredients, since the web site also offers no descriptions. Unlike high-quality products that often provide easy-to-understand explanations of how certain substances affect the body, Nature Plants, the manufacturer of Herbal Sex Booster, posts only the most basic information. Men interested in trying an herbal supplement to improve their performance should look for products that prominently post the details of where their ingredients where their ingredients were harvested and how they were processed.