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It’s not uncommon to look for ways to boost your sex drive.
Although some pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra may help men get an erection, many people prefer natural alternatives that are readily available, discreet, and likely to have fewer side effects.
Interestingly, research has shown that several foods and supplements may help boost your libido and treat erectile dysfunction.
Here are 7 foods and supplements that may help boost your libido.
Tribulus terrestris is a small leafy plant whose roots and fruit are popular in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine (1Trusted Source).
It’s also widely available as a sports supplement and commonly marketed to boost testosterone levels and improve sex drive.
While human studies haven’t shown that it can raise testosterone levels, it appears to increase sex drive in both men and women.
In a 90-day study in women reporting low sexual pleasure, taking 750 mg of Tribulus terrestris daily increased sexual satisfaction in 88% of participants (2Trusted Source).
What’s more, a 2-month study in men revealed that taking 750–1,500 mg of Tribulus terrestris daily improved sexual desire in 79% of them (3Trusted Source).
However, studies in men with erectile dysfunction show mixed results.
One study found that taking 800 mg of this supplement daily for 30 days did not treat erectile dysfunction. Conversely, in another study, taking 1,500 mg daily for 90 days improved erections, as well as sexual desire (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
As such, more research is needed on Tribulus terrestris and erectile dysfunction.
summary Tribulus terrestris may help raise libido in men and women. Yet, results regarding its ability to treat erectile dysfunction are inconsistent, so more research is needed.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable traditionally used to enhance fertility and sex drive. You can buy supplements in various forms, including powders, capsules, and liquid extracts.
A 12-week study noted that 42% of men who took 1,500–3,000 mg of maca daily experienced an increased sex drive (6Trusted Source).
Furthermore, in a review of 4 studies in 131 people, taking maca consistently for at least 6 weeks improved sexual desire. It also helped treat mild erectile dysfunction in men (7Trusted Source).
Additionally, some evidence suggests that maca may help combat the loss in libido that may occur as a side effect of certain antidepressant drugs (8Trusted Source).
Most studies found that taking 1.5–3.5 grams daily for at least 2–12 weeks was sufficient to boost libido (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
summary Maca may help boost libido and improve erectile function in men with mild erectile dysfunction.
Ginseng — and red ginseng in particular — may aid low libido and improve sexual function.
A 20-week study in 32 menopausal women found that taking 3 grams of red ginseng per day significantly improved sexual desire and function, compared with a placebo (9Trusted Source).
In addition, red ginseng may boost the production of nitric oxide, a compound that aids blood circulation and helps muscles in the penis relax. In fact, studies have revealed that this herb was at least twice as effective as a placebo at enhancing erectile function (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
However, other studies have found no effect of red ginseng on libido or sexual function, and some experts question the strength of these studies (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Thus, more research is needed.
Red ginseng is generally well tolerated but may cause side effects, such as headaches and upset stomach. It may also interact with medications like blood thinners, so those who take them may want to consult a medical professional before use (10Trusted Source).
summary Red ginseng may boost libido and enhance erectile function, though more research is needed.
Fenugreek is a popular herb in alternative medicine that may help enhance libido and improve sexual function.
It contains compounds that your body may use to produce sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
A 6-week study in 30 men found that supplementing with 600 mg of fenugreek extract daily increased strength and improved sexual function (18Trusted Source).
Similarly, an 8-week study in 80 women with low libido determined that taking 600 mg of fenugreek daily significantly improved sexual arousal and desire, compared with the placebo group (19Trusted Source).
That said, very few human studies have examined fenugreek and libido, so more research is needed.
In addition, this herb interacts with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. If you’re on a blood thinner, you should speak with your medical practitioner before taking fenugreek (20Trusted Source).
summary Fenugreek may boost libido in both men and women by encouraging the production of sex hormones.
Saffron is a delicious spice derived from the Crocus sativus flower.
Its many traditional uses range from reducing stress to acting as an aphrodisiac, especially for people on antidepressants.
A 4-week study in 38 women with a low libido on antidepressants found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily significantly improved several sexual issues, such as decreased arousal and lubrication, compared to a placebo (21Trusted Source).
Similarly, in a 4-week study in 36 men who struggled with desire and arousal related to antidepressant use, taking 30 mg of saffron daily significantly improved erectile function, compared with taking a placebo (22Trusted Source).
What’s more, a review of 5 studies in 173 people noted that saffron significantly improved various aspects of sexual pleasure, desire, and arousal in men and women (23Trusted Source).
However, in people who don’t have depression or are not taking antidepressants, results are mixed (24Trusted Source).
summary Saffron may boost libido in people on antidepressants, but its effects are inconsistent in those not taking these drugs.
Gingko biloba is a popular herbal supplement in traditional Chinese medicine.
It may treat various issues, including sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction and low libido, as it can raise blood levels of nitric oxide, which aids blood flow by promoting the expansion of blood vessels (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
That said, studies in humans reveal mixed results.
One 4-week study in 63 people found that taking an average dose of 209 mg of gingko biloba daily helped treat antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction — low levels of desire, arousal, and/or pleasure — in 84% of participants (27Trusted Source).
However, several other studies have shown that gingko biloba had little to no impact on libido or other aspects of sexual dysfunction (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
summary Gingko biloba may treat various aspects of sexual dysfunction because it can raise levels of nitric oxide. However, studies are inconsistent.
L-citrulline is an amino acid naturally produced by your body.
Your body then converts it into L-arginine, which helps improve blood flow by producing nitric oxide to dilate your blood vessels. This, in turn, may treat erectile dysfunction (31Trusted Source).
For example, a small, monthlong study in 24 men with mild erectile dysfunction found that taking 1.5 grams of L-citrulline daily significantly improved symptoms in 50% of participants (32Trusted Source).
In another 30-day study in men, taking a daily combination of 800 mg of L-citrulline and 300 mg of trans-resveratrol improved erectile function and hardness, compared with the placebo treatment (33Trusted Source).
Trans-resveratrol, commonly known as resveratrol, is a plant compound that functions as an antioxidant and is linked to numerous health benefits.
L-citrulline is available as a dietary supplement in capsule or powder form but is naturally present in foods like watermelon, dark chocolate, and nuts.
summary L-citrulline may aid men with erectile dysfunction because it can raise blood nitric oxide levels.
Several other foods and supplements are commonly promoted as libido-boosting. However, they don’t have as much supporting evidence.
Here are several foods that may boost your libido:
- Oysters. Several animal studies indicate that oysters may boost your libido, but there is no human research in this area (34Trusted Source, 35).
- Chocolate. Although chocolate is widely believed to boost libido, especially in women, little evidence supports this (36Trusted Source).
- Nuts. Some evidence suggests that nuts, especially pistachios, may boost libido in men. However, more research is needed (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
- Watermelon. This popular fruit is a good source of L-citrulline, which may help with erectile dysfunction. Yet, no human studies have examined watermelon intake and erectile dysfunction or libido.
- Chasteberry. There’s some evidence that chasteberries can ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms in women, but there’s no evidence that it offers libido-boosting effects (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).
- Coffee. This popular beverage contains caffeine and polyphenols, which some studies link to a lower risk of erectile dysfunction. However, more human research is needed (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).
- Horny goat weed.This herb contains compounds that may affect blood flow to the penis and has been linked to improved erectile function in animal studies. However, more human research is needed (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
- Alcohol. Although alcohol may help people get in the mood, it does not boost libido. In fact, a high intake has been linked to sexual dysfunction (47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
If you’re looking to boost your sex drive, you’re not alone.
A few foods and supplements may even act as aphrodisiacs, including tribulus, maca, red ginseng, fenugreek, saffron, gingko biloba, and L-citrulline.
Due to limited human research, it’s unclear how these foods and supplements compare with pharmaceutical libido boosters like Viagra or Roman ED.
That said, most of these are well tolerated and widely available, making them easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Keep in mind some of these libido-boosting foods and supplements may interact with certain drugs. If you take medication, you may want to consult a medical professional beforehand.