Natural aphrodisiacs

J Sex Med. 2010 Jan;7(1 Pt 1):39-49. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01521.x. Epub 2009 Sep 30.


Introduction: The search for a remedy or a prescription that can enhance sexual function and/or treat male erectile dysfunction has been an obsession throughout known history. Whether it was an Eastern civilization or a Western one, religious or atheist, man's aspiration for a better or best "manhood" has been a history-time goal.

Aim: This review will discuss the current research done on the most popular natural aphrodisiacs and examine the weight of evidence to support or discourage the use of any of these substances to enhance sexual desire and/or function.

Methods: Review of the current evidence on the use of natural substances as aphrodisiacs.

Main outcome measures: Efficacy of natural aphrodisiacs in enhancing sexual function in men and women.

Results: There is little evidence from literature to recommend the usage of natural aphrodisiacs for the enhancement of sexual desire and/or performance. Data on yohimbine's efficacy does not support the wide use of the drug, which has only mild effects in the treatment of psychogenic ED. Although there's a positive trend towards recommending ginseng as an effective aphrodisiac, however, more in depth studies involving large number of subjects and its mechanism of action are needed before definite conclusions could be reached. Data on the use of natural aphrodisiacs in women is limited.

Conclusions: The current body of objective evidence does not support the use of any natural aphrodisiac as an effective treatment for male or female sexual dysfunctions. Potent men and men with ED will continue the search for natural aphrodisiacs despite the current disappointing data on their effectiveness. Care should be taken regarding the fraud addition of sildenafil analogues to natural aphrodisiacs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphrodisiacs / adverse effects
  • Aphrodisiacs / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Panax
  • Penile Erection / drug effects
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Quackery
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yohimbine / adverse effects
  • Yohimbine / therapeutic use


  • Aphrodisiacs
  • Plant Extracts
  • Yohimbine