Aphrodisiacs – Ayurvedic Understanding, Useful Herbs

Sex power boosting Ayurvedic herbs are called as aphrodisiacs. These are the herbs and medicines that promote sexual vigor. Certainly a hot topic in Ayurveda. A few of the drugs and tools are sold in the open markets irrespective of its proven efficacy, scientific research data, safety aspects etc. The reason is quite evident that such people are ‘blind’ when they approach the medicinal counters and so called self-advertised sexologists. Ayurvedic classical literatures explain the aphrodisiacs, their utility, scope and limitations. 
This article is an effort to explore the hidden facts of Ayurvedic treasure house.
Definition of Aphrodisiacs – sex vigor boosting herbs 
In Ayurveda we find 2 important words in relation to aphrodisiacs – which mean the substances or matters which promote the sexual vigour.
They are –
i) Vajeekarana
ii) Vrishya (Vrushya)

Vajeekarana is one that promotes sexual drive.
‘Vajee’ refers to ‘horse’ and ‘karana’ means ‘making’ or ‘leading’.
Here, horse is used as a symbol of strong sexual drive. ‘Horse power’ is considered to be very strong with respect to sexual drive and penetration. It is the reason, in most of the aphrodisiac drugs horse is shown as symbol.

Vrushya means which promote the ‘prajanana samarthya’- means the ability to expel out  the semen. In Sanskrit ‘Vrish’ word is used for ‘Varsha’ – rain. Vrishya drugs mean those which increase the quantity of semen. Otherwise, we can summarise these two for the qualitative increase of sexual drive (Vajeekarana) and qualitative promotion of the semen (Vrishya).

sperm ovum

Further, while explaining the nature of sexual indulgence, Acharya Charaka specifies it with the note that ‘Gajavat’ and ‘Chatakavat’.
Here ‘Gajavat’ refers to sexual play of the elephant and ‘Chatakavat’ refers to that of sparrow. Sexual play of elephant is symbolized to explain the closed action for prolonged period (modern sexologist co-relate it to the sexual play of dogs) and sparrows action is in relation to multiple penetrations (multiple sex acts in a stipulated period.)

Another explanation of correlation of animals with sexual act:
Vaji (Horse) – regular forceful dynamic conjugation
Chataka (Sparrow) – multiple short sexual acts, with small amount of semen
Gaja (Elephant) – once in a while long time conjugation with abundant semen discharge
Vrusha (Buffalo) – regular stable seasonal conjugation with more quantity sperm, semen

Quite interestingly, most of the herbs explained as aphrodisiacs in Ayurveda are also excellent anti aging herbs (rejuvenators – Rasayana)

Related: Premature ejaculation Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Tips

Aphrodisiac action of the herbs can be further elaborated into different actions as follows – 
i) Shukra utpadaka/janana – promotes sperm  /semen production
ii) Shukra Stambhaka – preventing early ejaculation
iii) Shukra Rechaka – Assisting easy expulsion of semen
iv) Shukra Vardhaka/shukrala – Improving quality of semen
v) Shukra Balya – strengthening semen, sperm
vi) Shukra Uttejaka – Stimulants
vii) Shukra Hrasaka/Shukra Hara – decreasing sperm / semen

Shukra Utpadaka/ Janana
The substances which improve production of semen/sperm are called spermatogenic medicines. Usually such drugs are administered in the patients with azoospermia(Shukranasha, Veeryanasha), oligospermia (low sperm count) etc. According to the causative factor of oligospermia, the treatment and medication are to be selected.

Cases where Ayurvedic treatment for oligospermia might not work –
Congenital anomalies, tubal blockage, post-surgical complications, trauma, prolonged hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and few medicine originated azoospermia.

Herbs that promote sperm / semen production:
i) Kadali – Banana
ii) Vatama – Badam
iii) Mushali- Curculigo orchioides
iv) Amalaki – Amla-Goose berry
v) Ghrita – Cow’s ghee
vi) Gokshura – Tribulus terrestris
vii) Tila – Sesame seeds
viii) Palandu – Onion-Allium cepa
ix) Bhallataka – Marking nut seeds
x) Goksheera- Cow’s milk etc.
Usually such drugs possess sliminess, unctuousness, lightness, coldness, minuteness etc. propertirs.

II Shukra sthambhaka – delaying ejaculation
These are the medications which help to withhold the easy/free ejaculation. Such herbs are useful in premature ejaculation, uncontrolled sexual desire, anxiety related sexual complaints etc. Such drugs are dry, light, hot, hard and stable in nature.
Few of the examples for such action are-
i) Jatiphala – Nutmeg
ii) Kramuka – Arecanut
iii) Lodhra-Symplocos racemosa
iv) Shati – Hedychium spicatum
v) Musta – Cypurus rotundus
vi) Ela – Cardamom
vii) Chandana – Sandal wood
viii) Nagakesara – Messua ferrae
ix) Mocharasa – Shalmali niryasa – Resin of Shalmali-Shalmalia malabarica

Shukra Rechaka – assisting easy expulsion
The medicaments which help in easy expulsion of semen are called Shukra Rechakas. Usually such drugs are penetrative (teeksna), sweet, heavy, slimy, slow, unctuous, thick and soft in nature.
Such Shukrarechaka medicaments taken help in the patients who feel difficulty in free expulsion of semen. Usually this is resulted in the individuals who are under stress, who take dry food for prolonged period, indulge in night awakening etc Vata activities. This becomes very essential in those who have hesitation for sexual indulgence, psychological infertility, aversion towards foreplay etc.

The important drugs which contribute Shukrarechaka benefit are –
i) Brihati phala – Fruit of Solanum nigrum
ii) Kadali – Banana
iii) Shatavari –Asparagus racemosa
iv) Goksheera-Cow’s milk
v) Talimkhan – Kokilaksha seeds-Asteracanthus longifolia
vi) Yastimadhu – Indian liquorice
vii) Khanda sharkara – Sugar candy
viii) Bala-Sida cardofolia
ix) Vidarikanda-Ipomea tuberosa
x) Punarnava-Boerhavia diffusa

IV Shukravardhaka/Shukrala :
Shukrala or Shukravardhaka refers to those elements which promote the quantity of semen. Especially such medicaments are slimy, cold, thick, unctuous, heavy, soft and stable in nature.

In the conditions like oligospermia, reduced viscocity and fluidity, these kind of medicaments are essential. But prolonged use of these medicaments may reduce the motility of sperm. Many a time, physicians as well as consumers wrongly understand that such drugs (Shukravardhaka) are beneficial in all kinds of seminal disorders. But, in clinical practice it is not found so. Careful watch, gentle handling, thorough semen analysis and proper observation will safeguard the patients or else the money, time and energy of the patients are ruined away.

Aphrodisiac herbs useful for promotion of the semen (Shukravardhaka) are –
i) Bala-Sida cardifolia
ii) Musli – Curculigo orchioides
iii) Shatavari – Asparagus racemosa
iv) Kapikacchu – Mucuna pruritus
v) Masha – Black gram
vi) Shweta palandu -White onion
vii) Amalaki-Amla-Goose berry
viii) Khanda sharkara-Sugar candy
ix) Yastimadhu-Indian liquorice etc.

Shukra Balya -strengthening sperms / semen – 
The substances which are helpful to strengthen the semen or sperm are called Shukra balya or Shukrabalakara drugs. We can compare this group of drugs which correct the deformities of the sperm in relation to the structure and function. Usually these are having both properties of shukrajanana and shukravardhana. But few of the specific drugs directly contribute in rejuvenation of the sperm in specific and semen in general.

Few of the examples for Shukrabalya are –
i) Bala-Sida cardifolia
ii) Atibala-Abutilon indicum
iii) Shatavari-Asparagus racemosus
iv) Ashwagandha-Withania somnifera
v) Gokshura-Tribulus terrestris
vi) Kapikacchu-Mucuna pruritus
vii) Masha-Black gram
viii) Yastimadhu –Indian liquorice etc.

If the individual is suffering from one or the other kind of uro-genital disorders very often or for prolonged period it is better to administer such drugs. They act as elixirs with respect to shukradhatu.

Shukra Uttejaka – Stimulants 
These are the stimulants of seminal fluid and sperm. Very often these are also called Kamottejaka medicines. But there is slight difference between Shukrottejaka and Kamottejaka.

Main difference is in the psychological level. Shukra Uttejaka is mainly related to the seminal fluid and sperm. Whereas Kama Uttejaka is also considered for mental aspects of sexual act. Otherwise, the properties are much interrelated.

Ayurvedic classical literature emphasizes the spouse/wife as the best aphrodisiac. (Shukrottejaka -Shukrajanaka, Shukrapravartaka and Kamottejaka).

Few of the important Shukrottejaka-seminal stimulants are –
i) Masha – Black gram
ii) Shigru – Drumstick
iii) Khanda sharkara – Sugar candy
iv) Navaneeta – Butter
v) Ghrita – Ghee
vi) Kapikachu-Mucuna pruritus
vii) Lavanga – Clove
viii) Tambula patra – Betel leaf etc.

Shukra Hrasaka – decreasing sperm / semen
The food habits or medicines which diminish the semen or sperm count are called Shukrahrasaka substances. Usually it is not a sudden phenomenon; If the particular food, habit or medicine is taken for a prolonged period of time, gradually the sperm count is reduced.
The substances possessing dryness, lightness, hardness, toxic nature, deep penetration, sleep inducive (sedative), narcotic etc. come under this category. Many a time some of the drugs if taken in smaller dose, they act as stimulants or elixirs. Whereas if the same is taken excessively, it may decrease the sexual libido or reduce the sperm count.
Tobacco, arecanut etc. are good examples for such an undesired action.

Few of the important drugs which reduce the sperm count are –
Kulattha – Horsegram
Karavellaka -Bitter gourd
Karamarda-Caricus carandus
Tulasi – Holy basil
Guggulu – Commiphora mukul
Tankana – Borax etc.
Kshara preparations

Stress, night awakening, addictions, few of the cosmetics, colouring agents and preservatives do reduce the sperm count.

Effects of Aphrodisiac therapy as per Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 1.1:
अपत्यसन्तानकरं यत् सद्यः सम्प्रहर्षणम्  |
वाजीवातिबलो येन यात्यप्रतिहतः स्त्रियः ||९||
भवत्यतिप्रियः स्त्रीणां येन येनोपचीयते |
जीर्यतोऽप्यक्षयं शुक्रं फलवद्येन दृश्यते  ||१०||
प्रभूतशाखः शाखीव येन चैत्यो यथा महान् |
भवत्यर्च्यो  बहुमतः प्रजानां सुबहुप्रजः ||११||
सन्तानमूलं येनेह प्रेत्य चानन्त्यमश्नुते |
यशः श्रियं बलं पुष्टिं वाजीकरणमेव तत्  ||१२||
apatyasantānakaraṃ yat sadyaḥ sampraharṣaṇam |
vājīvātibalo yena yātyapratihataḥ striyaḥ ||9||
bhavatyatipriyaḥ strīṇāṃ yena yenopacīyate |
jīryato’pyakṣayaṃ śukraṃ phalavadyena dṛśyate ||10||
prabhūtaśākhaḥ śākhīva yena caityo yathā mahān |
bhavatyarcyo bahumataḥ prajānāṃ subahuprajaḥ ||11||
santānamūlaṃ yeneha pretya cānantyamaśnute |
yaśaḥ śriyaṃ balaṃ puṣṭiṃ vājīkaraṇameva tat ||12||

Vrushya – Aphrodisiac therapy yields following benefits –
Apatya, Santaanakara – potentiality for getting offspring’s for the maintenance of the continuity of the lineage,
Sadya Sampraharshana – instantaneous sexual excitation,
Vaaji vati bala – sexual strength of a horse
Apratihata Striyaha – does not get exhausted by sexual act
Atipriyaha streenaam – being liked by women

Aphrodisiac therapy nourishes Dhatu – tissue elements, by which even in old age, one does not get seminal debility or deficiency.
It enables one to remain firm like a Chaitya (a big tree ) with many branches.
It enables the person to earn respect from people by virtue of his having procreated several children, which is conducive to his enjoying happiness and eternity in this world and beyond.
Children bring about success, auspiciousness, strength and immunity. Vajikarana treatment is the reason for all these. [Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 1.1/9-13]

Last drop:
It is always wise to think before we act and eat. Medicine is not an answer for all problems. Some of the diseases are self-borrowed or self-invited. Care and caution in food habits and medicine intake will make our life fruitful and useful. This is more applicable to above context.
Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy and Dr Hebbar

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  1. Very nice

  2. Thank you Doctor. Quite interesting. Recently i read in one Indian text that aphrodisiacs are also those medicines which nourish and revive a man who indulges in sex nightly even as he gets older or who has a young wife. If this is correct, under which category would these medicines fall and could you list some common Ayurvedic medicines and foodstuffs to help replenish the strength of body and mind of such a depleted but supposedly happy man? Thank you. 😀

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      It is true that the aphrodisiacs also have anti aging effect. It falls under Shukra Balya category
      Food – Egg, Dates, Banana, Almond, Dry grapes, Drum stick vegetable, garlic, Aloe Vera Juice, Keshar with milk, Black
      gram foods like Dosa, Vada, pomegranate, castor oil, garlic, Avocado, walnuts, water melon.

      Medicines – Ashwagandhadi rasyana, Amalaki rasayana etc.

  3. sarwar khan says:

    Excellent informations , Thanks Doctor Sahib

  4. pulkit says:

    thanks for the valuable information.
    Sir i read somewhere that Almonds are anti-DHT(Dihydrotestosterone) . is it true ? is it also true for Safed Musali and Shatawari ?
    i read that some herbs increase the testosterone level by decreasing DHT level. can you please throw some light on this , so that we men can use them carefully .

    one more question , does “veerya-vardhak” mean testosterone boosting ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Almond is anti DHT. So also is – Pumpkin seeds, Tomato, watermelon, carrot, walnuts, peanuts, spinach, kale, cashew,

  5. pulkit says:

    Amala is used as hair growth medicine , so is it also DHT blocker ? is yes then using amla can also prevent converting Testosterone into DHT , the most important male hormone .
    please clarify

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      All herbs that are used for promotion for hair growth need not necessarily be DHT blocker.

  6. anonymous says:

    I heard on a tv program- baba ramdev’s I think that tulsi is great for male fertility, but u write that it is not. Can u please clarify? Also, if there are one or two rasayanas a man with zero sperm can take- please advise.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, Tulsi seeds are considered aphrodisiac. I do not know of a way to treat zero sperm count.

  7. Veerbhadra says:

    Hi Doctor,

    Is there any all in one herbal medicine for this? Please recommend.

    Thank you,

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      There are many aphrodisiacs such as ashwagandharishta, Bhringarajasavam etc. Please consult a doctor directly.

  8. Dr. mangal Prasad GUPTA says:

    Excellent article. Explained in a very lucid manner with examples of all available herbs and materials.

  9. Ramesh says:

    Lucid, educative, informative. Thanks.

  10. Anonym says:

    Hi Sir, This could be a strange question.
    Are there single herbs or sastric/Herbal medicines to reduce sexual drive.

    Note: request you not to display name or age if possible.
    Thanks in advance

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, as requested, name and age (and email id) are hidden.
      Chandanasava – 10 ml mixed with 10 ml water at night after food for 2 months can be useful.

      For personal health advice, please consult an Ayurveda doctor directly.
      If you want my help in finding a good Ayurveda doctor for you, then let me know your place.

      For email advice (not a reliable option, we do not promise any cure), please write to our health experts here (paid service) – https://easyayurveda.com/consult/

  11. Jordan Benjamin says:

    Hi what is meant by “Atipriyaha streenaam – being liked by women”?

    Is this implying that women are naturally friendly towards men with high shukra?

    I have read that excess of shukra can cause seminal calculi yet holy men preserve shukra as much as possible. Where is it stored after it has capacity?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Yes. That is the meaning.
      It is true that women are attracted to people with high Shukra. Usually Shukra Sara persons have attractive eyes, hair, body features etc.
      In people following Brahmacharya, as per my knowledge, the sperm production eventually stops and is converted continuously into spiritual energy.

  12. My husband was having low sperm count (less than 1million) and very low sperm count also. He took Himalaya speman tablets in between for 2 months and the count improved. Then it was stopped since we thought taking medicines for long time can be harmful. But before i could concieve, the sperm count dropped drastically again. Now he is thinking of taking speman tablets again (2 tablets twice daily). How long can he take the tablets? Can he take for 6 months long? Also can he take aswagandharishta along with it? His sleep patterns are very disturbed due to this tension and he gets tired easily. Pls suggest.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, Speman – 2 tablets 2 times a day after food can be taken for 3 months, then for the next 3 months, I would suggest to decrease the dose to 3 tablets per day for another 3 months time.
      Along with it, he can also take Aswagandharishta – 10 ml, mixed with 10 ml water 2 times a day after food for 4 months time.

      For personal health advice, please consult an Ayurveda doctor directly.
      If you want my help in finding a good Ayurveda doctor for you, then let me know your place.

      For email advice (not a reliable option, we do not promise any cure), please write to our health experts here (paid service) – https://easyayurveda.com/consult/

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