In nearly two decades of practicing naturopathic medicine, Dr. Laurie Steelsmith has noticed a trend in many of her female patients age 30 and over. They want to know “Where did my libido go?” and “What can I do to rekindle the flames of passion? Does this sound familiar to you?

These often-heard questions led Dr. Steelsmith to do research on how to build sexual energy through naturopathic and Chinese medicine. The result is her new book, Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine, which looks at ways to enhance libido naturally, using Western and Eastern herbs, aphrodisiacs, nutritional supplements and natural hormones.

naturopathic medicine, menopause, libido, vaginal drynessShe covers a lot of ground in this book, including ways to naturally treat “notorious sex spoilers” like vaginal dryness, incontinence, UTIs and pelvic pain. But what piqued my interest were her suggestions for nutritional supplements “that can pack an extra punch of pleasure potential.” I spoke to Dr. Steelsmith to learn how these sex-enhancers work.

At the top of her list of natural aphrodesiacs is an amino acid, L-arginine, which she calls “an effective natural sex-enhancer by increasing nitric oxide and promoting blood flow to your sexual organs.”

“It vasodilates, so it increases circulation by increasing nitric oxide and promoting blood flow to your whole body, especially to your sexual organs. For women who are having low libido and poor sexual function, taking L-arginine can be a booster and increase sensitivity so they can feel more when they are having sex.”

She also likes PEA (phenylethylamine), which she has taken herself.  It’s called the “love supplement” for a reason.

“PEA is a stimulant and mood elevator and it can induce sensations of euphoria. It’s naturally released by your brain when you’re in love. There are several attractive options for obtaining PEA. Have an orgasm every day (PEA is released by your brain whenever you reach orgasm); exercise daily since it’s been shown that it increases the release of PEA; or eat chocolate, a rich source of PEA.” 

menopause, low libido, sex-enhancing foodsAh, yes, chocolate. It seems to be showing up on a lot of healthy food lists these days. Dr. Steelsmith calls it the “flagship food aphrodisiac.”

“It’s chock full of love-conducive, pro-pleasure ingredients, like PEA, L-arginine and the compound theobromine, which some say has aphrodisiac potential and stimulates the central nervous system.

Dr. Steelsmith also recommends sweet potatoes.  (Sweet potatoes?)  

Besides making “great snacks for great sex,” they’re especially high in vitamin B5, which is important for adrenal-gland health, which in turn promotes production of your sex hormones.

“Part of boosting libido and helping women in midlife is supporting their adrenal glands, because when their ovaries go through their “career change,” it’s really the adrenal glands that have to pick up where the ovaries have left off. The adrenal glands need B5 to function optimally. I have women include sweet potatoes in their diets to help support their sexuality.”

Dr. Steelsmith cautions readers that the effects of using aphrodisiacs and sex enhancers tend to depend on your sexual health as a whole and your total state of well-being.

“Your capacity for sexual pleasure and your overall health are profoundly connected.”