In the West we tend to look to herbs to treat specific problems – unlike traditional Chinese medicine, where herbs are recognized for their virtues as energy tonics and in bring the whole body to back into balance.
Neither approach is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and modern research is backing up the benefits of certain herbs to deal with key men’s health issues such as prostate health, infertility, erectile dysfunction, and stress and the chart below makes suggestions for some of the herbs recommended to treat specific short-term health problems.
Obviously such problems have numerous origins and if any symptoms worsen or are persistent, it’s important to seek medical advice. This chart is not comprehensive, but it does contain the key herbs for men’s health.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
Proven to relieve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate by reducing elevated testosterone levels. It acts as an antiseptic diuretic in the treatment of cystitis or urethritis. Traditionally used as a male aphrodisiac, and to treat infertility. Best taken as a tincture or capsules.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Proven to stimulate peripheral circulation. It has a direct effect on the blood flow to the penile arteries and veins, and is used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and impotence. Combine with cinnamon in an infusion, or drink the tincture regularly for a few months
Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
Acts as an antidepressant and energy tonic and helps to combat chronic exhaustion and anxiety. It is also used to treat premature ejaculation, impotence, and a loss of interest in sex. Take in combination with other appropriate herbs as an infusion or tinctures.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
A traditional energy tonic from the Ayurvedic tradition, this herb is used to combat stress and as an aphrodisiac. Used in the treatment of chronic stress, anaemia, impotence, and infertility. Best taken as a tincture or capsules.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
The most famous of all energy or “chi” tonics from the Chinese tradition, ginseng has a long tradition as an aphrodisiac and to generally improve stamina and boost natural immunity and resistance to stress. Best taken as capsules, a tincture, or in soups.
Goji berries (Lycium barbarum)
Goji berries have established a reputation in the West as a “superfood”, and are used in traditional Chinese medicine as a blood tonic and to promote longevity. Eat the berries or combine the tincture with damiana as an energy tonic and as an aphrodisiac.
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
A major tonic herb that acts to protect the liver, it is also frequently used as a sexual tonic and aphrodisiac. Combine with ginkgo to improve concentration, or with damiana to treat stress, erectile dysfunction, or loss of interest in sex. Best taken as a tincture.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
A herb from the Ayurvedic tradition that is used as a tonic and to revitalize. Combine with ginkgo to improve memory and concentration and help erectile dysfunction, or with other aphrodisiac herbs to improve libido and general energy levels. Take as an infusion or tincture.
Nettle root (Urtica dioica)
Several studies have shown the root of this versatile herb to be of value in the relief of benign prostate hypertrophy (enlargement). Combine with saw palmetto and take as a decoction or tinctures.
Pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita spp)
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, which is essential for reproductive health and for a healthy prostate and bladder in particular. Eat a few of the seeds every day, or take the cold-pressed oil, which is also an excellent source of omega fatty acids.
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