Aphrodisiacs & Sexual Nourishment: According to Ayurveda
Updated: Feb 5, 2021
According to Ayurveda, one of the world's oldest healing systems, Aphrodisiacs are said to be nourishing and reinvigorating to not only our sexual organs, but to the nervous system & entire body. While in the Western world the word aphrodisiac generally means substances used to stimulate sexual desire and increase pleasure & performance, Ayurveda views aphrodisiacs as more complex than this generalization.
In the lens of Ayurveda, the reproductive fluid (shukra) created by our sexual organs is considered to be the essence of all the dhatus (the cream of all bodily tissues), due to the fact that it contains the power to create life. Read that again. The power to create life. To create life OR to create whatever else we so desire in this life.
Ahh yes, not only does this potent fluid (also known as "the ultimate product of nutrition of the entire body") hold the power to bring a new physical life into existence, but it holds the capacity to create & replenish one’s own energy, returning this power back to the cells of the body with the vitality of youth. It all depends how we direct it.
If directed inward, this same powerful life creating energy found in reproductive fluid, can help facilitate the creative transformation of our sexual energy and help renew both body & mind.
For this reason, it’s not only important to tune into how we nurture our reproductive system through the foods and herbs we consume, but to consider how we utilize our sexual energy & reproductive fluids.
Though the smallest in quantity of the 7 tissues of the body, the reproductive tissue is the only tissue that leaves the body during normal course of activity – making it easy to deplete.
Because the reproductive tissue is said to provide stability to the entire body, any unwarranted loss of tissue, results in loss of strength & endurance in all that we do.
Much like the electronics glued to our hands, our energy is limited and must be recharged via rest, silence, herbs, foods, time in nature and other rejuvenating practices. Everything we do either adds to subtracts from this inner energy reserve.
And while generally speaking, excessive or perverted sexual activity is said to result in the loss of energy & strength, the weakening of the immune system and the disturbance to heart and mind, it’s also said that if the desire for sex is not fulfilled, physical or mental sickness can result - making it especially important to become aware of how we nurture and direct our sexual energy.
But how? Although both Ayurveda & yoga generally recommend regulating sexual impulses (Brahmacharya) and conserving sexual energy in order to increase memory, power, intelligence, health and longevity, it’s important to note, that if sexual energy is simply repressed, vitality is said to stagnate and weaken.
For this reason, if practicing abstinence, it’s key to utilize asana, pranayama or meditation to transmute this sexual energy into a positive creative force.
And while many interpret Brahmacharya as celibacy or withdrawal from sex altogether, in this modern world I believe it’s more about the "right use of energy".
But what does this right use of sexual energy look like?
Perhaps it’s more about choosing to direct our energy away from those good ol’ instant, yet fleeting gratification types of pleasures that are great in the moment, but ultimately lead to this unfulfilling, outwardly, hamster wheel games of chase. And instead, learning to cultivate stability, peace and happiness within ourselves first and foremost. Tuning into how we feel when we engage in sexual activity and noticing when we feel depleted or energized.
And while this sounds simple, it’s certainly not black or white and is more about finding that delicate balance between enjoying life in the moment and being able to step back and make choices that support our big picture happiness & health.
And don’t you worry, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s just important to consider that sex without a deeper emotional connection has the power to deplete vitality and derange emotions, causing much of the mental hardships we see in the world today.
In fact, because sexual energy is seen as the main guiding energy of both body & mind, Ayurveda states that most disease involve some misuse of sexual energy.
According to David Frawley in Ayurveda and the Mind “uncontrolled or misdirected sexual energy distorts our physical and mental functions, leading to tremendous loss of energy via deep-seated entanglements.”
Ah yes, as much as we may not want to see this harsh reality, tuning into the more subtle flows of energy we exchange with those we choose to get intimate with has the power to save us from much of the struggle we experience via our relations.
On the flip side, according to Ayurvedic guru Dr. Vasant Lad, “When two people truly love each other, and within that loving relationship, make love with awareness, they can transform ojas (vital energy) into profound bliss.” Profound bliss, eh? Sign me up for that.
And while I hate to be the bearer of more bad news, Ayurveda also reveals that masturbation, (especially in excess) is said to also have the potential to lead to disease, due to the fact that it fails to provide the emotional energy exchange needed to provide balance to our system.
Because we live in a world where the collective sexual energy is distorted and the pull towards sexual indulgence and distraction is so freaking strong, I believe it’s crucial to at the very least consider how we nourish our reproductive system, by taking the time to replenish our sexual energy using Aphrodisiacs and other yogic practices as needed.
In Ayurveda, foods that are sweet, unctuous, nourishing and heavy are said to be aphrodisiacs. Foods like split black gram (one of the best aphrodisiacs), wheat, baby corn, mango, plum, bananas, garlic, sesame seeds, dark chocolate, almonds, cashews, milk, ghee, honey, pomegranates, dates, saffron, nutmeg, cardamon, cinnamon & cloves.
Typical herbal aphrodisiacs include: Asafoetida, Ashwagandha, Ginseng, Hibiscus, Rose, Shilajit, Pippali & Shatavari.
Looking for a way to add more aphrodisiacs to your diet? Try this Ojas boosting, Aphrodisiac beverage that combines the power of multiple aphrodisiacs in one delicious treat. This brew is the perfect nourishing beverage for anytime of the day, after sex or before bed.
1 cup milk of choice (organic, without chemicals)
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp honey or 1 fresh pitted date
¼ tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Optional herbal add on from above
Add all ingredients to small saucepan and heat over medium low heat until, stirring with whisk until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat and add mixture to blender, blending on high for 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to mug of choice and ENJOY!!!