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If you’re having trouble between the sheets, you probably know by now that the problems can stem from a variety of sources, from chronic stress to a crappy diet. But what you may not know is that you don’t have to rely on a little blue pill to rev things up again. There are a host of natural supplements that can take your sex life from “eh” to “ahhh-MAZING”—while benefitting your overall health and wellbeing at the same time. Here are five of my favorites:
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Ginseng, known as the natural Viagra, has a strong reputation for improving sex drive—and for good reason. As one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world, millions of people supplement with the root plant to treat a variety of health conditions from inflammation, to low immune function, to stubborn weight gain—and, of course, sexual dysfunction. A 2008 review of 28 clinical studies suggested that powered Korean red ginseng increased sexual arousal and treated erectile dysfunction in men. Additionally, research conducted by the Department of Physiology at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine showed that ginseng can directly facilitate erections by relaxing erectile tissue and increasing blood flow.
The benefits of saw palmetto have been known for centuries. It was first used as a medicinal plant by Native American tribes in the southeastern United States; then, in the early 1900s men began using the berries of the plant to treat urinary tract problems and increase sperm production. Today, saw palmetto is commonly used to improve prostate health (it reduces the multiplication of prostatic cells and treats prostatic enlargement), but it is also known to naturally increase testosterone levels. Because saw palmetto inhibits the conversion of testosterone into DHT, the body is able to maintain normal levels of testosterone, which then combats fatigue, low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
If you’re reading this and thinking that you may not need any of these supplements since you already have a pretty decent sex life, I have one suggestion: Try fenugreek anyway. In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, a group of men between the ages of 25 and 52 years were given 600 milligrams of fenugreek extract per day for six weeks. Through self-evaluation, the participants reported that the supplement had a positive effect on their libidos. The study found that fenugreek extract had a significant influence on sexual arousal, energy and stamina, while helping the men maintain normal testosterone levels. The best part? None of the participants had a previous history of erectile dysfunction, showing that fenugreek may help you go from good to great in the bedroom.
DHEA is a hormone that is naturally produced by the adrenal glands in both men and women, and when it comes to supplementation, most people turn to it for its ability to help build lean muscle mass and fight fat accumulation. The effects are so strong, in fact, that the NCAA has banned DHEA supplements.
DHEA levels in men typically begin to decline after the age of 30, which also marks the age when they start to experience the effects of those hormonal imbalances including loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. And the good news is that, as long as you’re not a collegiate athlete, you can safely take DHEA to normalize those hormone levels and give your sex life an all-natural boost.
It is estimated that up to 90% of the American population has some degree of Vitamin D deficiency, especially those with darker skin or who live in colder climates and experience less sun exposure throughout the year. As a result, many processed foods are regularly fortified with Vitamin D, as experts understand the nutrient’s ability to prevent bone loss, prevent cancer, fight heart disease and enhance the immune system. What the experts don’t say, however, is that Vitamin D is also instrumental in maintaining testosterone levels in men.
My advice for men with low testosterone: You can try every other supplement mentioned here, but if your Vitamin D levels are low, your testosterone levels will stay low, too. To increase your levels (and make sure everything’s working properly in the sack), I would recommend avoiding fortified packaged foods and would, instead, suggest getting 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily. When that’s not possible, supplement with 5,000 IUs of Vitamin D3. A 2011 study published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research showed that similar vitamin D supplementation naturally boosted testosterone levels in overweight men by up to 30 percent.