February is the month of love; it is the month of Romance; the month of Valentines day; and also the month of Heart Health Awareness.
Libido or organic sexual desire is a question that comes up often in my practice. However, it is often brought up as an after thought to a host of many other symptoms. An imbalance in one part of the body will most often have threads of imbalance in other parts of our body.
A diminished libido is quite a common concern discussed regardless of age; it is a common symptom at age 20 to 60 plus. Libido has many factors underlying which contribute to why it may be low. There are many physiological issues that can contribute; there are also many mental emotional issues that can contribute.
Each person’s health history is individual and treatment options vary for each individual case. There are many natural remedies for libido; however, it cannot be effectively treated without knowing the root origin of the imbalance.
Common reasons for low libido:
A diet full of fast food; processed white flour; high in refined sugar; low in watery green vegetable; fried foods; processed meats; excess caffeine; high in alcohol.
A diet high in inflammatory foods, perhaps with underlying food sensitivities, most common sensitivities include: gluten, dairy, soy, corn.
Inflammatory food; highly processed foods result in low-grade chronic inflammation in the body. The adrenals are often overly taxed when the body is in a highly inflammatory state and the result is a decreased libido. Highly inflammatory foods can be responsible for decreased circulation in the body also contributing to lower libido.
Adrenals are the glands that sit on top of the Kidney’s. Adrenal glands are most typically at the root of most libido issues. If the body is a perpetual inflammatory state; a highly stressed state; the adrenals main function is survival; conserve energy at all cost – and procreation is low on the list of priorities at that point, therefore, the libido will decrease.
The body will respond to dietary changes very quickly. Implementing a whole foods diet high in leafy green veggies can turn this situation around within a month! When we work with our body – the body is very forgiving.
Underlying hormonal issues:
For women, there could be an imbalance of the Estrogen and Progesterone ratio for women. The imbalance could present itself possibly post natal; peri-menopausal; menopause; irregular menses since the onset of menses; dampened libido due to the birth control pill.
For men, there could be a drop in testosterone, a major life stressor also impacting the adrenals and hormonal level.
Medications prescribed for various symptoms may have an impact on dampening the libido. This is a common side effect of treatment and while one symptom is managed, a secondary impact of the libido can be quite a concern.
In this case it is important while taking medications, to still focus on treating the underlying imbalance to treat the root. Eventually medications can be lessened and the overall body as a whole is functioning optimally.
Mental emotional impact:
I would say this is the most common factor involving a lowered libido, and the last to be addressed. It makes sense, it is a sensitive topic, it is a vulnerable topic. It is a topic that involves the heart. It is often far easier to radically change diet; add in an exercise plan; focus on balancing hormones. All of these our brain perceives as “controllable”. We put in effort; we see a result. A+B = C. However, if the deeper emotions are not dealt with, lowered libido will always be just that, controlled by perfect diet and lifestyle. When we look deep into our emotional body, past wounds of the heart, this is not something we can control. How are body will respond to clearing past pain, is not something we can control. Emotions commonly stored or left unaddressed could be past anger; past resentment; a feeling of not being seen; over worked in the workplace and in the home; unspoken pain between spouses; an emotional trauma such as divorce; or let go from a career; lack of purpose in life. The lists of emotions are many and vary between men and women.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the reflexology point of the heart is located in the genitalia for both men and women. A shut down heart very often is reflected as a shut down libido.
Natural Remedies for Libido:
- Tribulus: It is a herb that works to increase testosterone production in the body. Tribulus will increase libido for men and women. The catch is the quality of the herb. Tribulus, when in its proper form, is by nature an expensive herb. If you purchase a lower quality Tribulus that appears to be more cost friendly. It likely will not work to increase testosterone levels. The one we carry in the clinic is a Bulgarian Tribulus, consisting of the roots, which has the active component. Many commonly found brands, come from China and contain mostly the stems and leaves. To increase libido the active component is found in the roots, not and a much smaller amount in the stems and leaves.
- Maca Powder: Maca is used to increase libido and treat the adrenal glands. Maca root is known to balance estrogen and progesterone levels for women; it increases erectile function in men, due to the L-Arginine properties of Maca. It is apparently known as “natures own Viagra”.
- Cortisol Balancing: Cortisol is the stress hormone. Being that we live in North America, with so much on our plates, imbalance of cortisol is what I see most often in my practice. If the cortisol is in excess in the body, it can throw off the sex hormones. If the cortisol is depleted and too low, it can deplete the sex hormones. We want it to be in a perfect balance. Balancing cortisol is key to a healthy libido. This is a difficult one to self-treat; it is best done under the guidance of a Naturopathic Physician.
- Emotional health: Find someone you trust to dive deeper into emotional wellbeing. Addressing the emotions can often change swiftly leaving a freedom from symptoms. We all do it; we all carry old emotions; but it does not have to be this way. On the other side of these emotions is a tremendous freedom.
The grand take-home lesson is to work daily to decrease daily stress in the form of physical, mental, emotional, chemical stressors. Allow for time for a self-care and self-nurturing routine. Be your own best Valentine, be kind to yourself, we are all doing the best we can. Most importantly, be sure to include 70-80% cocoa dark chocolate during the month of February, your libido will appreciate it, and it helps boost the love hormones!
Happy Love Month Everyone!
~ Dr. Neetu