APHRODISIACS –AYURVEDIC UNDERSTANDING

Ayurvedic classical literature emphasizes the spouse/wife as the best aphrodisiac

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Sex power boosting Ayurvedic herbs are called as aphrodisiacs. These are the herbs and medicines that promote sexual vigor. Certainly a hot topic in Ayurveda. A few of the drugs and tools are sold in the open markets irrespective of its proven efficacy, scientific research data, safety aspects etc. The reason is quite evident that such people are ‘blind’ when they approach the medicinal counters and so called self-advertised sexologists. Ayurvedic classical literatures explain the aphrodisiacs, their utility, scope and limitations.
This article is an effort to explore the hidden facts of Ayurvedic treasure house.

Definition of Aphrodisiacs – sex vigor boosting herbs:
In Ayurveda we find 2 important words in relation to aphrodisiacs – which mean the substances or matters which promote the sexual vigour.
They are –
i) Vajeekarana
ii) Vrishya (Vrushya)

Vajeekarana is one that promotes sexual drive.
‘Vajee’ refers to ‘horse’ and ‘karana’ means ‘making’ or ‘leading’.
Here, horse is used as a symbol of strong sexual drive. ‘Horse power’ is considered to be very strong with respect to sexual drive and penetration. It is the reason, in most of the aphrodisiac drugs horse is shown as symbol.

Vrushya means which promote the ‘prajanana samarthya’- means the ability to expel out the semen. In Sanskrit ‘Vrish’ word is used for ‘Varsha’ – rain. Vrishya drugs mean those which increase the quantity of semen. Otherwise, we can summarise these two for the qualitative increase of sexual drive (Vajeekarana) and qualitative promotion of the semen (Vrishya).

Further, while explaining the nature of sexual indulgence, Acharya Charaka specifies it with the note that ‘Gajavat’ and ‘Chatakavat’.
Here ‘Gajavat’ refers to sexual play of the elephant and ‘Chatakavat’ refers to that of sparrow. Sexual play of elephant is symbolized to explain the closed action for prolonged period (modern sexologist co-relate it to the sexual play of dogs) and sparrows action is in relation to multiple penetrations (multiple sex acts in a stipulated period.)

Another explanation of correlation of animals with sexual act:
Vaji (Horse) – regular forceful dynamic conjugation
Chataka (Sparrow) – multiple short sexual acts, with small amount of semen
Gaja (Elephant) – once in a while long time conjugation with abundant semen discharge
Vrusha (Buffalo) – regular stable seasonal conjugation with more quantity sperm, semen

Quite interestingly, most of the herbs explained as aphrodisiacs in Ayurveda are also excellent anti aging herbs (rejuvenators – Rasayana)

Aphrodisiac action of the herbs can be further elaborated into different actions as follows:
i) Shukra utpadaka/janana – promotes sperm  /semen production
ii) Shukra Stambhaka – preventing early ejaculation
iii) Shukra Rechaka – Assisting easy expulsion of semen
iv) Shukra Vardhaka/shukrala – Improving quality of semen
v) Shukra Balya – strengthening semen, sperm
vi) Shukra Uttejaka – Stimulants
vii) Shukra Hrasaka/Shukra Hara – decreasing sperm / semen

Shukra Utpadaka/ Janana:
The substances which improve production of semen/sperm are called spermatogenic medicines. Usually such drugs are administered in the patients with azoospermia(Shukranasha, Veeryanasha), oligospermia (low sperm count) etc. According to the causative factor of oligospermia, the treatment and medication are to be selected.

Cases where Ayurvedic treatment for oligospermia might not work –
Congenital anomalies, tubal blockage, post-surgical complications, trauma, prolonged hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and few medicine originated azoospermia.

Usually such drugs possess sliminess, unctuousness, lightness, coldness, and minuteness etc. properties.

Shukra sthambhaka/Delaying ejaculation:
These are the medications which help to withhold the easy/free ejaculation. Such herbs are useful in premature ejaculation, uncontrolled sexual desire, anxiety related sexual complaints etc. Such drugs are dry, light, hot, hard and stable in nature.

Shukra Rechaka – assisting easy expulsion:
The medicaments which help in easy expulsion of semen are called Shukra Rechakas. Usually such drugs are penetrative (teeksna), sweet, heavy, slimy, slow, unctuous, thick and soft in nature. Such Shukrarechaka medicaments taken help in the patients who feel difficulty in free expulsion of semen. Usually this is resulted in the individuals who are under stress, who take dry food for prolonged period, indulge in night awakening etc Vata activities. This becomes very essential in those who have hesitation for sexual indulgence, psychological infertility, aversion towards foreplay etc.

Shukravardhaka/Shukrala:
Shukrala or Shukravardhaka refers to those elements which promote the quantity of semen. Especially such medicaments are slimy, cold, thick, unctuous, heavy, soft and stable in nature. In the conditions like oligospermia, reduced viscocity and fluidity, these kind of medicaments are essential. But prolonged use of these medicaments may reduce the motility of sperm. Many a time, physicians as well as consumers wrongly understand that such drugs (Shukravardhaka) are beneficial in all kinds of seminal disorders. But, in clinical practice it is not found so. Careful watch, gentle handling, thorough semen analysis and proper observation will safeguard the patients or else the money, time and energy of the patients are ruined away.

Shukra Balya -strengthening sperms/ semen:
The substances which are helpful to strengthen the semen or sperm are called Shukra balya or Shukrabalakara drugs. We can compare this group of drugs which correct the deformities of the sperm in relation to the structure and function. Usually these are having both properties of shukrajanana and shukravardhana. But few of the specific drugs directly contribute in rejuvenation of the sperm in specific and semen in general.

Shukra Uttejaka– Stimulants:
These are the stimulants of seminal fluid and sperm. Very often these are also called Kamottejaka medicines. But there is slight difference between Shukrottejaka and Kamottejaka.

Main difference is in the psychological level. Shukra Uttejaka is mainly related to the seminal fluid and sperm. Whereas Kama Uttejaka is also considered for mental aspects of sexual act. Otherwise, the properties are much interrelated.

Ayurvedic classical literature emphasizes the spouse/wife as the best aphrodisiac. (Shukrottejaka -Shukrajanaka, Shukrapravartaka and Kamottejaka).

Shukra Hrasaka– decreasing sperm/ semen:
The food habits or medicines which diminish the semen or sperm count are called Shukrahrasaka substances. Usually it is not a sudden phenomenon; If the particular food, habit or medicine is taken for a prolonged period of time, gradually the sperm count is reduced.
The substances possessing dryness, lightness, hardness, toxic nature, deep penetration, sleep inducive (sedative), narcotic etc. come under this category. Many a time some of the drugs if taken in smaller dose, they act as stimulants or elixirs. Whereas if the same is taken excessively, it may decrease the sexual libido or reduce the sperm count.
Tobacco, arecanut etc. are good examples for such an undesired action.

Stress, night awakening, addictions, few of the cosmetics, colouring agents and preservatives do reduce the sperm count.

Effects of Aphrodisiac therapy as per Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 1.1:
अपत्यसन्तानकरं यत् सद्यः सम्प्रहर्षणम्  |
वाजीवातिबलो येन यात्यप्रतिहतः स्त्रियः ||९||
भवत्यतिप्रियः स्त्रीणां येन येनोपचीयते |
जीर्यतोऽप्यक्षयं शुक्रं फलवद्येन दृश्यते  ||१०||
प्रभूतशाखः शाखीव येन चैत्यो यथा महान् |
भवत्यर्च्यो  बहुमतः प्रजानां सुबहुप्रजः ||११||
सन्तानमूलं येनेह प्रेत्य चानन्त्यमश्नुते |
यशः श्रियं बलं पुष्टिं वाजीकरणमेव तत्  ||१२||

Vrushya – Aphrodisiac therapy yields following benefits:
Apatya, Santaanakara – potentiality for getting offspring’s for the maintenance of the continuity of the lineage,
Sadya Sampraharshana – instantaneous sexual excitation,
Vaaji vati bala – sexual strength of a horse
Apratihata Striyaha – does not get exhausted by sexual act
Atipriyaha streenaam – being liked by women

Aphrodisiac therapy nourishes Dhatu – tissue elements, by which even in old age, one does not get seminal debility or deficiency. It enables one to remain firm like a Chaitya (a big tree ) with many branches. It enables the person to earn respect from people by virtue of his having procreated several children, which is conducive to his enjoying happiness and eternity in this world and beyond. Children bring about success, auspiciousness, strength and immunity. Vajikarana treatment is the reason for all these. [Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 1.1/9-13]

A women’s desire for sex is based on a complex interaction of many components affecting intimacy, including physical well-being, emotional well-being, experiences, beliefs, lifestyle and current relationship. A wide range of illness, physical changes and medications can cause a low sex drive, including sexual problems, medical diseases, medications, lifestyle, surgery, fatigue etc. Changes in hormone levels are also one of the most common causes of low sexual desire in women. Hormonal changes like menopause, pregnancy and breast feeding can dampen a women’s sex drive.

Moreover, the problems don’t have to be physical or biological to be real. There are many psychological causes for low sex drive, including mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, stress, poor body image, low self-esteem, negative sexual experiences, relationship issues can also result a poor sexual desire in women.

Ayurveda offers several effective ways to increase the sexual desire in men & women both.