Santa Barbara Wellness Directory
Ayurvedic Aphrodisiacs & Longevity Elixirs

by Claudia Ward, L.Ac, Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist

Not too long ago, I dreamed I jumped into a swimming pool filled with rice pudding. It is one of my favorite desserts and while I was researching this article I soon found out to my delight that rice pudding is one of the aphrodisiac Ayurvedic super foods that nourish the shukra dhatu (the reproductive system).
For thousands of years, humanity has experimented with countless possibilities in an incessant search for new substances to enhance lovemaking or to promote longevity.

In the ancient healing tradition of Ayurveda – which literally means the “science of life or longevity” - sexuality was important enough to devote a whole branch of medicine to its study. This special branch of medicine is called vajikarana in Sanskrit.

Vajikarana means 'that which strengthens the body by reinvigorating the sexual organs'. The Ayurvedic point of view is that by increasing the strength of the sexual organs the overall health of the body is maximized. The secondary effects of this are increased fertility for both sexes, and heightened enjoyment during lovemaking.

The Chinese also maintain a similar view. However, the Chinese system often uses the genitals of animals and insects to increase the strength of the reproductive organs. Aside from being disgusting this practice has disadvantages both psychologically and physically. Ayurveda achieves better results by using special plants and foods that not only increase vigor to the reproductive organs but also promote health and emotional balance.

Those who are not particularly interested in enhancing their love life, but nevertheless want to look and feel radiant, glowing and youthful should know that many of the vajikarana herbs and foods used for their aphrodisiac effect will also have a positive effect on the overall health. There is a value in enhancing the shukra dhatu, which means the reproductive organs. Shukra has a dual function, not only producing the sperm and ovum but also ojas, the finest product of digestion. Ojas creates vigor, bliss, lightness, stamina, immunity, luster in the skin, sparkle in the eyes, and clarity of mind. Ojas is vital to the health and happiness of everyone. Anyone who wants mental clarity, immunity, and spiritual well-being will find these recommendations useful, because they enhance the shukra dhatu and thus enhance ojas."

I suppose that any food that is natural, healthful, fresh, attractive to our eyes, mouthwatering, tempting – that is, that has the same virtues one looks for in a mate- would be aphrodisiac. Some aphrodisiacs function through analogy, like the vulva-shaped oyster or the phallic asparagus; others by association because they remind us of something erotic. In general anything with a French name seems aphrodisiac. Serving mushrooms with garlic isn’t all the same as champignons a la Provencale. In Sanskrit Ayurvedic herbs are named after their alleged properties, such as Ashwaganda which is translated as “strength of a horse”, or Shatavari which means “possesses a hundred husbands”. I will talk about aphrodisiac herbs later and will first mention foods (including my beloved rice pudding) that can maximize your metabolic potential and thus enhance sexual radiance. Please consult with a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, however, if you would like to know the appropriate foods for your dosha or constitution.

Foods For Vitality and Sensuality According to Ayurveda:
Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables
* Whole grains
* Dairy proteins, including milk, lassi, and panir (a fresh cheese made of milk)
* Mung dhal
* Almonds, Walnuts, Sesame
* Sweet, juicy fruits such as mangoes, peaches, plums, and pears
* Dried fruits such as dates, figs, and raisins
* Stewed apples for breakfast
* A banana cooked in ghee, cinnamon and cardamom which is a tasty and wholesome dessert for people with strong digestion

Foods that Specifically Enhance the Shukra Dhatu
* asparagus
* broccoli
* milk (organic, whole)
* sesame
* almonds
* ghee
* aloe vera
* rice pudding

In general, it's important to eat a wide variety of foods in order to receive all the essential nutrients. Keep trying new vegetables and fruits, and rotate your menus to make sure you're not eating the same thing day after day.

Vajikarana Herbs
Before vajikarana herbs are administered, a person's body must be purified. First, the diet is improved according to the person's dosha, then a more disciplined lifestyle is recommended--including the adoption of a calmer mind, positive outlook and spiritual consciousness.
It should be noted that aphrodisiacs cannot be taken if the body is unhealthy or full of undigested food matter (i.e., toxins or ama). A person should be in good health to benefit from the use of these herbs. Below are only a few of the many vajikarana herbs available:

Ashwagandha was historically used as an aphrodisiac. Ashwagandha is mentioned in the ancient Kama Sutra as an herb for heightening sexual experience, Ashwagandha has the ability to restore sexual health and improve overall vitality while promoting a calm state of mind.
Laboratory studies show Ashwagandha produces nitric oxide which is known to dilate blood vessels.
Ashwagandha is categorized as a rasayana, which is used to promote physical and mental health, to provide defense against disease and adverse environmental factors and to slow the aging process.

Shatavari is a member of the asparagus family; its name means "one who possesses a hundred husbands" in Sanskrit. A special tonic for women, shatavari nourishes shukra dhatu and increases fertility and the capacity for lovemaking. Shatavari has rejuvenative effects on the female reproductive system, and possesses a sattvic quality as well as enhancing feelings of love and devotion. Shatavari also helps generate healthy reproductive fluids and blood and can help regulate a woman's menstrual cycle. It can be used during any time from puberty until menopause.

Kumari (Aloe Vera)
Kumari - Literally means 'like a young girl or virgin' as it imparts the energy of youth to the reproductive system. Dose is one tablespoon of gel once a day (with a little ginger powder if needed).
To this day many of the East Indian women use it to maintain beauty and counteract the symptoms of aging.

Gokshura (tribulus terrestris) is another botanical commonly used to enhance libido. It has long been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for various ailments and has been studied in animals with encouraging results. Researchers concluded that “tribulus terrestris’ extract appears to possess aphrodisiac activity probably due to the testosterone increasing property of tribulus terrestris.” Tribulus also is known to decrease levels of prolactin in women. An increase in prolactin is associated with reduced libido. Licorice Root Licorice is famous for creating balance and synergy in herbal formulas. It also acts on the glands, especially the adrenals to optimize hormone levels. The adrenals produce sex hormones and are directly involved with a healthy sex drive. Lowered adrenal function can lead to loss of libido, less energy and poorer sexual response.

Any of these herbs can cause physical or psychological imbalances if taken incorrectly and should be recommended by a certified Ayurvedic practitioner.

About the Author

Claudia Ward, L.Ac. is cofounder of The Prana Center, Santa Barbara's exclusive healing center for Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, offering authentic Ayurvedic bodywork, marma therapy, consultations, nutrition, acupuncture and Pancha Karma cleanses. She is a Licensed Acupuncturist, Diplomate of Acupuncture, Diplomate of Chinese Herbology and an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Claudia may be contacted at:

USA Phone and Fax: 805-560-9727

See Claudia's page in The Santa Barbara Wellness Directory

Read the article "Oh Baby! Prenatal and Postpartum the Ayurvedic Way"
- by Gina Tolleson, Santa Barbara News-Press, July 31, 2006

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