By Michelle Fletcher, B.A.
American late-night infomercials are not the only ones promoting improved sexuality. The Chinese have been doing it for centuries!
For thousands of years the Chinese have associated vibrant health and longevity with both abundant kidney chi and strong libido. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) your kidney chi directs your sexual development and keeps your libido healthy. In essence, improving the health of your kidneys often means increasing the health of your libido.
In steady use for at least the last 5000 years, aphrodisiacs are substances believed to increase sexual powers, desire and may include such items as foods, herbs, scents, beverages, drugs or various other potions. Many of the current products used as aphrodisiacs are based on Chinese herbal medicine.
One of the most popular herbal aphrodisiacs, ginseng, has been taken orally for thousands of years as a stimulant, adaptogen, and aphrodisiac. It is also a main ingredient in many energy drinks and supplements.
Scientists at the University of British Columbia studied ginseng’s prowess and safety in clinical trials. “Ginseng (Panax ginseng, C.A. Meyer) has been a popular herbal remedy used in eastern Asian cultures for thousands of years. … There are numerous theories and claims describing the efficacy of ginseng, which can combat stress, enhance both the central and immune systems and contribute towards maintaining optimal oxidative status against certain chronic disease states and aging.”
An Italian study confirmed its use as an aphrodisiac: “Ginseng is the root of the perennial herbs of Panax quinquefolium and Panax ginseng which contain a series of tetracyclic triterpenoid saponins (ginsenosides) as active ingredients. It is considered a tonic or adaptogenic that enhances physical performance (including sexual), promotes vitality and increases resistance to stress and ageing. The adaptogenic properties of ginseng are believed to be due to its effects on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, resulting in elevated plasma corticotropin and corticosteroids levels. When used appropriately, ginseng appears to be safe.”
Norman Gillis at the Department of Anesthesiology at Yale University School of Medicine observes the link between ginseng and nitric oxide synthesis in the body, which may contribute to aphrodisiac properties: “Several recent studies have suggested that the antioxidant and organ-protective actions of ginseng are linked to enhanced nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in endothelium of lung, heart, and kidney and in the corpus cavernosum. Enhanced NO synthesis thus could contribute to ginseng-associated vasodilatation and perhaps also to an aphrodisiac action of the root.”
Supported by Western scientific research and over 5,000 years of practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginseng is a potent and effective natural herbal aphrodisiac. Void of painful side-effects found in mainstream prescriptions, ginseng is making its way into more and more homes across the country for its varied medicinal properties.
Mindspan Consultants “Aphrodisiacs.” Opinion.com. 2006. http://www.myfemalesexuality.com/opinion/AphrodesiacsChapter1.htm
Kitts D, Hu C. “Efficacy and safety of ginseng.” Public Health Nutr. 2000 Dec;3(4A):473-85.
Nocerino E, et al. “The aphrodisiac and adaptogenic properties of ginseng.” Fitoterapia. 2000 Aug;71 Suppl 1;S1-5.
Gillis CN. “Panax ginseng pharmacology: a nitric oxide link?” Biochem Pharmacol. 1997 Jul 1;54(1):1-8.