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logo icon The Ultimate Guide to TCM Herbs for Sexual Health!

The Ultimate Guide to TCM Herbs for Sexual Health!

Sexual health is a vital concern for many. In fact, the Chinese believe that sexual energy plays an important role in our lives that cannot be ignored. For centuries they have curated and utilized various herbs that are known to improve sexual well-being. Some herbs date back to more than 20 centuries ago. 

With these herbs and philosophies at its core, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes a holistic, all-natural approach to support (help) sexual health issues. In this article, you’ll discover a wide range of Chinese herbs, herbal supplements, and cosmetics like Suifan's Kwang Tze Solution Brush that are great for promoting and supporting sexual health. Read more to find out!

What Is Sexual Health?

Sexual health was first defined in 1975 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication, and love.” [1] However, this definition has changed and evolved with cultural progression over time and has been expanded to include the ever-changing social-cultural definitions of sexuality, sexual identity, and sexual health practices. 

WHO currently defines sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected, and fulfilled.” [1] 

With this definition in mind, we prepared this article to help you understand what sexual health encompasses in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the available remedies for common sexual health issues.

What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic health practice that originates from ancient Chinese philosophy. It views the body as one interconnected organism which functions based on the Yin and Yang balance. This is different from Western medicine, which sees the body as a function of different organs. Yin and Yang are in charge of maintaining inner harmony, balance, and well-being. They are different but complementary forces. In Western medicine, they are defined as the catabolic and anabolic forces. TCM believes that the imbalance between the Yin and Yang is what brings about discomforts, and as such, all TCM practices are aimed at restoring the balance between the Yin and Yang.

The other most popular and important tenet of TCM is the Qi. Qi is the energy of life that is found everywhere in the universe. From a health perspective, it is the vital energy that flows through your body, and it is generated as a result of the interaction between Yin and Yang. Every organ in the body has its own type of Qi that it uses to function. Qi is also believed to improve the immune system and protect it from pathogens. Therefore, Traditional Chinese Medicine promotes holistic health by supporting Yin, Yang, and Qi balance. Treatment also focuses on an individual organ’s Qi and how it affects the body, thereby taking a holistic treatment approach.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is composed of different practices like acupuncture, Tai Chi, and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. However, our main focus for this article is traditional Chinese herbs. Traditional Chinese herbal medicine has a long history that dates back to 12 Century AD. Herbal medicine is believed to be used for many conditions, including sexual health-related issues.

Men’s Sexual Health 101

Male sexual health is concerned with a man's state of well-being that allows them to take part in and enjoy satisfying sexual activity. It takes into consideration factors like social, physical, and psychological factors. Good male sexual health entails the ability to maintain an erection, enjoy sex, and have a healthy sexual desire for one’s partner. However, this is not always the case, and there are prevalent issues that affect men’s sexual health.

There are many types of sexual health issues that commonly affect men. They may be caused by physical, emotional, or psychological factors. The leading causes of sexual dysfunction include prescription medication like antidepressants, alcohol or drug use, smoking, anxiety, stress, surgeries, trauma, low testosterone, blood vessel disorders, depression, and poor communication, among others.

Western medicine pushes treatment for these issues with prescription medicines that target symptoms instantly. However, Chinese holistic, natural remedies are believed to target the origin of sexual health issues for life-long results. Chinese herbs can be used as a dietary supplement with a healthy daily routine or as complementary to conventional Western treatments. However, it’s important to consult your doctor or a TCM practitioner before integrating any herbs and supplements into your lifestyle. 

TCM Herbs That Support Erectile Health

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the failure to get an erection or sustain it for the duration necessary for satisfying sexual intercourse. It may be caused by depression, low testosterone, stress, nerve disorders, penis injuries, and other lifestyle factors such as drug abuse. It is a common issue among men aged 40 and above. [2] Western medicine treats erectile dysfunction with tablets, devices, and injections to the penis.

On the other hand, Chinese medicine takes a more natural route with herbs that are historically known to support erectile function. TCM attributes erectile function to harmony between the kidney Yin Yang and the liver Qi. 

According to limited and inconclusive scientific research, some Chinese herbal medicine might help with “erectile function by supporting the nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) pathway, and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) expression, supporting testosterone production, intracellular Ca2+ concentration, and transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1)/Smad2 signaling pathway” [3] These normal processes are vital intracellular signals that occur in the corpus cavernosum for erection health.

Popular Chinese herbs used for erection health include: 

  1. Ginkgo Biloba - This herb is widely known for its neuroprotective and vasoprotective supporting properties. One of its extracts, EGb761, studied by researchers may help preserve the neural nitric oxide synthase positive nerve fibers after injury. There are also studies to evaluate noncontact erection in rats.  [4, 5, 6]
  2. Chinese Lovage (Lingusticum sinense) - This herb is normally used for its analgesic and cardiovascular supportive properties. In an In-Vivo study carried out on rabbits, Lingusticum sinense was reported to nourish the cavernosal smooth muscle. [7] 
  3. Ginseng - This is one of the most popular Chinese herbs that has been used for thousands of years. It has numerous supportive properties, including cell-cycle control,  healthy inflammation response, and antioxidant properties. A limited and inconclusive 2012 study reported Ginseng helps with healthy erectile function in men.  [8]
  4. Desert Broomrape (Cistanche deserticola) - This herb is known for its neuroprotective and antioxidant-supporting properties. It is used to help support the function of male and female reproductive and anal systems. Broomrape contains androgen helping nutrients  and a limited 2016 study, reports sperm count and sperm motility in rats. It also helps maintain normal progesterone and testosterone levels. [9]
  5. Tribulus - Its fruit has a long history of supporting healthy sexual libido. There aren’t any conclusive studies on how it works, though some studies have alluded to its ability to help natural androgen responding processes. [10]  
  6. Dodder (Cuscutae spp.) - This herb is normally used to support seminal emission and erection. The Chinese have used it for thousands of years. It is known to help kidney-yang balance and benefit androgen receptor genes and testosterone. [11]
  7. Cnidium - This botanical is normally used in TCM to support normal erectile function, fertility, and healthy sexual drive. A limited inconclusive study carried out in rabbits using extracts of Cnidium fruit reports positive health benefits on the corpus cavernosum (one of two columns of spongy tissue that runs through the shaft of the penis and contains blood vessels that fill with blood making an erection)[12]
  8. Dong Quai (Angelica sinesis) - In TCM, it is used for minor pain support and for healthy blood circulation. Its potential nutritional mechanism of support for erectile function is helping with natural NOS regulation. 
  9. Morinda - It is used in TCM to support the reproductive system and joint health. A limited and inconclusive 2015 study reports on sexual performance and testosterone levels in rats. [13] Another limited mice study investigates Morinda and its support in kidney yang nutrition and also reports on sexual behavior and healthy testosterone levels. [14]
  10. Lycium - This botanical is known to have multiple health-supporting properties and is commonly used with blood circulation, fertility, and immune systems. The antioxidative nutrients of Lycium in the support of healthy cavernous nerve recovery were reported in this limited and inconclusive 2016 study. [15]

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Support Sexual Desire (Libido) with Astragalus Root

Low sexual desire, otherwise known as low libido, is the term for a reduction in sexual interest, and nutrient levels often are reported with these feelings. Testosterone is the primary hormone for sex drive and sperm production. Deficient nutrient levels may contribute to other stressors  such as anxiety, nervousness, self-doubt, and performance limitations. 

The best herb to promote desire is Astragalus. Astragalus is known to support vitality and keep men young. In Chinese tradition, herbalists used it to nourish the male urogenital system. An inconclusive 2004 study reports rats showed that Astragalus helps support healthy sperm. [16]

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Herbs That Support Men’s Fertility

Male infertility is the inability of a man to fertilize their partner’s eggs resulting in a failed pregnancy. According to the Society of reproductive surgeons, infertility affects both men and women. [17] Overall, men contribute to about 40% of infertility cases. 

Male fertility may be determined by age, sperm count, past injuries, illness, nutrient deficiencies, environmental stress, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking, drugs, and limited exercise. However, there are traditional Chinese medicines that can support male fertility, including Epimedium, Angelica gigas, Ginseng, and Ashwagandha roots. A limited 2017 study reported that the mixture of Epimedium and Angelica gigas supplementation supported healthy sperm production by supporting the natural reduction of oxidative stresses in a male rat model. [18] The Golden Leaf Kang Wei Ling Herbal Supplement contains the Epimedium herb traditionally used by Chinese men to support their healthy reproductive function. 

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The Ashwagandha root is believed to support the health of the reproductive systems. [19] Ginseng is a renowned herb for aphrodisiac properties, and apart from supporting erectile function above, limited and inconclusive studies have reported that proper nutrition and exercise  can help libido and sperm quality. [20]

TCM Herbs That Counter Premature Ejaculation

Premature ejaculation is scientifically defined as an ejaculation that happens after a minute or less than three minutes into an episode of sexual intercourse. [21] It can also be described as ejaculation with minimal sexual stimulation, shortly after penetration or before you wish for it to happen. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests that ejaculation performance is related to kidney and spleen nutrition and Qi block. Several inconclusive studies report a correlation between Chinese herbal medicine and ensuring optimized nutrition for top ejaculation performance. [22]

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Women’s Sexual Health 101

Women’s sexual health is concerned with the best state of well-being that allows them to take part in satisfying sexual activity. This includes physical, social, and psychological factors. For many women, good sexual health entails the ability to enjoy sex, having a healthy sex drive, and having access to contraceptives. However, there are some intrinsic concerns that might affect women’s sexual health, like fear of infertility, menstrual irregularity, and menopause. 

They may be caused by natural hormonal changes, negative mental states like stress, or depression, physical conditions, medications,  or even traumatic experiences. The first treatment options include the use of prescription medication and therapy. However, when nutrition and optimization are what you are looking for, alternative, holistic, natural remedies like Chinese herbal medicine are available to give you a boost to your health. Chinese herbs can be used as a dietary supplement with a healthy daily routine or as complementary to conventional Western treatments. However, it’s important to consult your doctor or a TCM practitioner before integrating any herbs and supplements into your lifestyle.

Herbs That Promote Women’s Fertility 

Female infertility is described as the inability to conceive and give birth after trying for at least a year. As we discussed above, fertility is a common issue between both genders. Causes of female infertility include ovulation disorders, fallopian tube damage, uterine problems, and egg quality problems, among others. 

Traditional Chinese medicine has supplementation solutions for fertility, for instance, the herb Tribulus. This herb is known to be helpful for both male and female fertility. It helps a healthy menstrual cycle and predictable ovulation patterns. One study reports the successful pregnancy of a 43-year-old woman using Chinese herbal medicine. [23]

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TCM Herbs For Healthy Menstruation Regularity

Menstrual irregularity or Oligomenorrhea is the occurrence of infrequent menstrual periods. It may be caused by excessive exercise, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, birth control, prescription medication, and eating disorders. These situations require medical intervention. Traditional Chinese herbs that may help maintain a healthy body from developing these concerns include Bai Feng Wan, Dong Quai, Fragrant Angelica, and the Chinese Rhubarb. 

Bai Feng Wan has been historically used in China to support a regular menstrual cycle. It is also used to ensure a healthy reproductive system. The Chinese rhubarb is believed to promote healthy blood circulation, which may help with natural regulating flow. According to this limited study, Dong Quai has been used to support menstrual cycles for more than twenty centuries. [24] It would be traditionally suggested to women for endometrial tissue health and menstrual blood circulation. [25]

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Support Menopause with Dong Quai

Menopause typically starts at around 45 to 55 years. It is the period that marks the end of menstrual cycles in women and is usually diagnosed when you go 12 months without a menstrual cycle. It usually comes with physical symptoms like hot flashes, sleep problems, low energy, night sweats, hormonal changes, incontinence, and low libido. Chinese herbal medicine is widely used to supplement the normal changes of menopause and is currently used in Chinese public hospitals. [26]

One of the most common herbs used during menopause is Dong Quai. It is a popular herb that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It’s used to support menopausal effects and regular menstruation. In a limited 2002 study, Dong Quai and Ginseng were reported to support estrogen activity. [27]

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Should You Choose Traditional Chinese Medicine For Sexual Health?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a natural holistic supplementative alternative that helps sexual health and wellness for both men and women. At Solstice Medicine, we take pride in our vast collection of sexual health best selling products that are carefully crafted to ensure the best choice for any sexual health goal.

Appendix

  1. https://www.who.int/teams/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-research/key-areas-of-work/sexual-health/defining-sexual-health 
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17498098/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5422677/ 
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25772481/ 
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21640798/ 
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20411379/ 
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19940852/ 
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23254461/ 
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26004585/ 
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18068966/ 
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18640256/ 
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11345705/ 
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26435724/ 
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25686781/ 
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27651780/ 
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14979208/ 
  17. https://connect.asrm.org/srs/about/new-item9?ssopc=1 
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5746488/ 
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29277366/ 
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3861174/#:~:text=Ginseng%20enhances%20sexual%20performance%2C%20improves,male%20fertility%20during%20disease%20states
  21. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2050116116300721 
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6504282/ 
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5597078/ 
  24. https://solsticemed.com/blogs/blog/benefits-of-dong-quai-root-as-a-herbal-supplement 
  25. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/angelica-sinensis 
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951187/#:~:text=Dang%20Gui%20(Radix%20Angelicae%20sinensis,Geller%202006%3B%20Luo%201986)
  27. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11875334/ 
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