by Dr. Amber Merrick, N.D.

Across all cultures, religions, gender and age, humanity is interested in having better sex.  It’s important to the survival of our species, to bring us closer together, and because people like it! Plain and simple!  To that end, humanity is constantly searching for anything to improve our sex lives and sexual experience.  But does anything specific really work?

First of all, what is an aphrodisiac?

An aphrodisiac is anything that stimulates sexual desire, be it food, drink, music, etc.  The word is derived from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.  A lot of foods and herbs have been touted as having aphrodisiac properties through the years.  The following is a list that you may want to try tonight:




Pretty standard on a list of aphrodisiacs…but they work!  Oysters contain copious amounts of zinc (approximately 20mg per oyster according to the USDA), a mineral important for the production of testosterone, which has been linked to a higher sex drive.

Chili pepper

Capsaicin, a chemical found in spicy peppers, increases blood circulation and stimulates nerve endings so you’ll feel more aroused.


The vitamin E in avocado helps your body produce hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, which circulate in your bloodstream and stimulate sexual responses like clitoral swelling and vaginal lubrication.


A classic choice, one in which most women will agree. Dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa may help increase dopamine levels, your brain’s pleasure chemical.  A rise in dopamine lifts mood, relaxes, and improves the body’s response to stimulation.

Red Wine:

Red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation before and during intercourse.  A 6 oz glass per day is typically what I tell my patients to enjoy.



Maca Root

This herb cultivated from the Andes has been used for centuries to stimulate sexual arousal.  Maca’s high iodine and zinc content support sex hormone balance.  Further, women who took maca root in a 2008 study in the CNS Neuroscience journal reported improved sexual experiences and satisfaction.

Tribulus terrestris

Studies of women who use this herb report greater desire, arousal, vaginal lubrication, more intense orgasms, and satisfaction (DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2014).  Tribulus stimulates androgen receptors in the brain making the body much more responsive to sex hormones. It also helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Ashwaganda Root

The Kama Sutra mentions ashwagandha as a potent igniter of passion and desire; however, its popularity presently has more to do with its effect on libido and sexual satisfaction. The herb may increase blood flow to the clitoris and other sexual organs, creating an intense sexual experience.  This herb is also helpful for stress, relaxation and thyroid function.

There are also many herbs and supplements for stress, relaxation, hormone balancing and/or mood if any of these are impacting sexual health and arousal.  Talk to your ND or other functional medicine practitioner for advice.


Relaxation and Imagination

The BEST aphrodisiac is feeling healthy, well rested, and stimulating your mind!  Have a chat with your partner about what you really enjoy… hands down they are going to love it!  Michael Hines, creator of, and partner in crime of yours truly, says, “Communication is key.  Sex is one of the most intimate things you can do with another person.  If you’re comfortable having sex with someone, you should surely be comfortable enough to communicate with your partner about your preferences, desires, and fantasies.”  Nicely said!  If you like long romantic kisses, foreplay, lap dances, or anything a little more risqué, talk about it with your partner.


Why is sex important anyways?

This may be up for debate in your household, but there is a of good evidence that orgasms are very beneficial for your health.

Mood and Relaxation

An orgasm will release oxytocin, the “love hormone” which leaves one with a feeling of warmth, relaxation and well-being.  The sexual hormones that are released during intercourse may lower rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.  Additionally, a study by scientists at Groningen University in the Netherlands found that when women experience an orgasm, the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear and anxiety, shows little to no activity.

Further, the subsequent drop in blood pressure and sedative effect of some neurochemicals released from an orgasm can improve sleep.  A study by Ellison reported that 32% of US women masturbate in order to fall asleep.

Pain management

A study by Beverly Whipple, found that women’s pain tolerance and pain detection increased by 74.6% and 106.7% respectively, when those women masturbated to orgasm.  Love those endorphins!

Immune function

Regular sex is linked to higher levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, which may protect us from common colds by boosting the immune system.  Further, in men, a study in Germany found that an orgasm could increase the number of circulating leukocytes (white blood cells) important for immune function.

Oxytocin has also been shown to possibly prevent breast cancer cells from developing into a tumor. And don’t forget the foreplay! Breast and nipple stimulation produces even more oxytocin.

Brain and Memory

Orgasms will get your blood pumping, and that includes circulation to your brain! Rutgers researchers recently asked female subjects to masturbate while lying in a MRI machine that measured blood flow to the brain. When the subjects had an orgasm, it increased blood flow to all parts of the brain, increasing oxygenation and nutrient availability to their brain cells.


Sex will increase DHEA and human growth hormone, hormones that can improve elasticity of the skin and blood vessels.  A 10-year study by Dr. Weeks at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, found that those who reported having sex 50 percent more than other respondents looked 7-10 years younger than their actual age according to study volunteers.

Several further studies found that middle-aged men who have more orgasms (2 per week) died at half the rate of those who had less than 1 orgasm per month. Another 20-year study found that women who reported a higher frequency of orgasms lived longer than those women who reported being less sexually fulfilled.

Happy Valentine’s Day my loves…GET IT ON, for your health of course!!


Here’s a Little Recipe:

A little trip to St. Lawrence market yesterday inspired a Valentine’s day appetizer for two, with fresh oysters from Malpeque Bay, PEI.  Try it when you want to set the mood:

Oysters with mignonette sauce

A dozen oysters

2 shallots minced

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper


Mix all ingredients and keep in refrigerator for up to 6 hours

Serve a spoonful on each oyster with lemon and hot sauce if desired

Check out YouTube for how to shuck your oysters, or ask your helpful fishmonger who sells you the oysters for tips.

Dr. Amber Merrick, N.D.
About Dr. Amber Merrick, N.D.
Amber Merrick is a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor in St. Catharines, Ontario. Amber feels Naturopathy is not only a profession but a lifestyle. She aspires to live a highly energetic and healthy lifestyle. She can coach you to wellness as she has coached countess others.
Is there any truth to an aphrodisiac?