Herbal medicine and acupuncture offer a lot of support for those experiencing any kind of sexual problem, physical or emotional. This article is intended to introduce you to some plant allies and offer some simple home and traditional applications for gentle support. For effective treatment of ongoing or serious issues, consult a qualified herbalist (email me if you'd like help finding someone in your area).
Warning: radically-inclusive, sex-positive, body-positive language spoken here
Perfumes have always been used for their aphrodisiac qualities! You can harness these powers yourself using essential oils as perfumes, room sprays or in bath or massage oils. Essential oils are the 'spirit' of the plant - and they can have a powerful effect on our spirits. Many of the traditional aphrodisiac oils work by addressing emotional issues that are so often at the root of sexual dissatisfaction. (Wondering how to find quality essential oils? Check out my earlier article for guidance)
Spicing it up
In Part I of Plants with Benefits, I talked about Yang tonics - herbs and foods that stoke the energetic fire that governs sexual desire. Some essential oils have the ability to tonify Yang and are suitable for low libido with sensations of coldness, low back ache, knee problems and low energy. These spicy essential oils can be irritating to the skin. Never use them undiluted, and you can DIY gentle versions by simmering the spices together on the stove or in a potpourri diffuser.
Basil: this essential oil is a potent Yang tonic, addressing infertility, impotence, and low self-esteem and confidence
Cinnamon, Clove, Black Pepper and Cardamom: cinnamon and clove (in the form of pumpkin pie) were famously found to increase penile blood flow more than any other scents (Source) All are very powerful stimulants, and can lead to exhaustion if overused, and definitely cause skin irritation - use them in very small proportion in a blend, or as whole herbs rather than essential oils for a more balanced effect.
Calm, heart centering oils
Other essential oils work as aphrodisiacs by helping reduce stress and anxiety and encouraging us to feel relaxed and unguarded - necessary for good sex! All these oils make fantastic massage or bath oils, or can be added to a diffuser or room spray. Hydrosols of these oils are much more affordable than essential oils and spritzing them over the sheets will add their aphrodisiac gifts to your bedroom.
Rose: the Queen of Flowers, she has been used to enhance sexual connection for millenia. Her lush, accepting fragrance is especially beneficial where sexual life feels blocked by lack of confidence or a sense of inadequacy.
Neroli: from the flowers of the bitter orange, neroli is a powerful anti-anxiety oil, and physically is an anti-spasmodic, relaxing both emotional and physical stress and spasm.
Patchouli: Patchouli can be a love it or hate it scent, but if you haven't smelled real, quality patchouli essential oil, you should give it a chance. As a herb, patchouli is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to 'transform dampness' and relieve symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Emotionally, the oil serves to transform and release pent up emotions, which is the source of its aphrodisiac power. Perhaps that is why folks tend to react so strongly to it!
Ylang ylang: the sweet, heady floral scent of ylang ylang is a sedative, and is used by medical aromatherapists to lower blood pressure and heart rate. It serves to break the cycle of sexual anxiety and soothe anger, frustration and jealousy. Best used in combination with other oils lest you find yourself so relaxed you fall asleep!
Bringing the Balance
These final two oils may have a hormone balancing action in Western terms, and energetically serve to harmonize and bring balance to our physical and emotional states - centering us in our own truth so we can reach for another from a place of solidity.
Jasmine: precious Jasmine essential oil is most accessible as part of a blend from a quality manufacturer. Her gifts in the physical realm are powerful, she is traditionally used during childbirth to promote relaxation and opening, to encourage milk production, and to help heal the after effects of a traumatic birthing. According to Peter Holmes, "emotional vulnerability from any cause and emotional disconnection (or dryness) from repression or trauma are its key indication." Those with trouble opening up, expressing needs and desires will benefit from jasmine's healing touch.
Sandalwood: a powerful, complex scent, sandalwood has been used in temples and monasteries to enhance meditation and prayer practices. It's aphrodisiac qualities help us stay grounded, in the moment and present with our partner, letting go of past experiences, insecurities and fear of inadequacy.
- 8 drops sandalwood or patchouli
- 4 drops ylang ylang
- 2 drops sweet orange or tangerine
For massage or bath oil, add the oils to 1 oz of carrier oil such as apricot kernel, jojoba, coconut or sesame. For bath salts, toss with 1 cup of epsom salts. Don't use essential oils undiluted on the skin. For inspiration on where to massage, check out Acupressure For Good Sex by Denise Cicuto L.Ac! And tune in tomorrow at 4 pm PST to TCMTalk on Periscope for more holistic sex talk!
Here's to good sex!