‘Aphrodisiac’ Nutrients

This article will focus on food supplements that can enhance sexual pleasure and performance. Kian explains.

Amino acids (AAs)

AAs often occur in nature in two forms which are mirror image molecules, denoted by the prefix D- or L-. Usually humans respond the L- form, so most amino acid supplements comprise this form exclusively. AAs as a dietary supplement are usually taken in capsule form on an empty stomach because in the presence of food they may be diverted to protein production.

L-dopa

L-dopa is used to treat Parkinson’s Disease (PD) including the sexual dysfunction and loss of libido that accompany it, with some patients reporting hypersexualisation as a side effect including, in some cases, spontaneous orgasm. L-dopa is a precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine (implicated in the prosexual effects of MDMA/ecstasy and GHB), norepinephrine and epinephrine (a.k.a. adrenaline) all of which stimulate the hypothalamus or brain sex centre. L-dopa enhances growth hormone levels and inhibits prolactin and serotonin levels (see 5HTP entry below). Due to the effects on stimulatory neurotransmitters, L-dopa has been used with good effect (less tension and no come down) as an amphetamine replacement in treating amphetamine addiction.

L-dopa is a prescription-only drug, but can be bought over the counter as an extract of Mucuna Pruriens a.k.a. Cow(h)age or velvet bean. Doses recommended for pro-sexual activity vary from 40mg to 500mg. It is recommended that users start on a small dose and ramp it up over a few days to avoid side effects and find the individual’s optimum dose.

Cautions: L-dopa is contraindicated with wide-angle glaucoma, pigmented malignant melanoma, and MAO inhibitor medication (except deprenyl). L-dopa may aggravate symptoms of mania and schizophrenia.

L-arginine

L-arginine is found in high concentrations in peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, turkey, tofu and cocoa. It has been found to have a beneficial effect on immune function, wound healing, liver function, sugar and fat metabolism, growth hormone production and sperm motility. L-arginine is present in large amounts in ejaculate (which would account for the fact that ejaculate can produce a burning sensation on the face and mouth – see cautions below) and is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO).

NO is a stimulatory neurotransmitter which plays a key role in erection in men (alcohol inhibits NO production whereas Viagra enhances the effects of NO) and vaginal arousal in women. L-arginine has been reported to increase erection, ejaculate volume and sexual stamina in men and to increase libido and the intensity of sexual sensations in men and women. In women, L-arginine creams (not neat L-arginine!) have been used to stimulate clitoral erection and ease of orgasm. I sometimes take 2 grams on an empty stomach before bed and/or an hour before sex.

Cautions: Never take L-arginine out of its capsule as it will badly burn mucus membranes. High daily doses (30+ grams!) may aggravate schizophrenic symptoms. If you have a Herpes simplex infection, L-arginine can stimulate an outbreak. This effect can be prevented by co-ingestion with the AA L-lysine. This is important as people on a low-arginine diet for Herpes can develop symptoms of arginine deficiency. Anyone with Herpes simplex infections should approach use of L-arginine with caution and read up on the area thoroughly before experimenting.

5 Hydroxy tryptophan (5HTP)

5HTP is the immediate precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5HT) which is closely related to mood. Conventional wisdom is that serotonin inhibits sex drive, and indeed people who have raised serotonin levels from SSRI anti-depressants like Prozac often experience sexual dysfunction. It has been suggested that part of the prosexual activity of L-dopa and GHB is due to their serotonin-inhibiting effects.

However, MDMA raises serotonin (and dopamine) and erotic feeling. In my experience, 5HTP has a powerful disinhibiting effect which means that I am more interested in sex and less inhibited in seeking sexual situations. Low serotonin is associated with depression and 5HTP could normalise levels, resulting in the return of sexual feeling. I take 100mg occasionally. If you want to get a feel for how 5HTP affects you, try taking it for several days in a row.

Cautions: Taking 5HTP in conjunction with SSRI/NSRI medication may result in excess serotonin and serotonin syndrome. May induce mania in manic depressives.

Other AAs

Some other AAs can provide general stimulatory effects via raised levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine e.g. L-taurine, L-phenylalanine or DLPA (the D- form of phenylalanine inhibits the breakdown of endorphins) and its breakdown product L-tryosine. L-threonine conversely is a calming AA found in cocoa and tea.

Choline and CDP-choline

I used to take choline whilst studying and noticed a marked improvement of mood, colour perception and eroticism. Choline is found widely in food, including eggs, meat, fish and nuts. It is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (AC) which, as well as assisting mental function, improves blood circulation to the genitals. AC is used to provide nitric oxide (NO), the chemical that Viagra selectively promotes (see L-Arginine below). Choline can also increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is directly related to increased libido (see L-Dopa below).

Supplementary choline can be taken in doses of 500-3000 mg. Within an hour or two pro-sexual effects may include increased body temperature, greater skin and genital sensitivity, firmer erection in men and stronger vaginal contraction in female orgasm.

Higher doses may lead to side effects, which can include sweating, mild nausea or diarrhoea and, if used regularly, notably tense leg and neck muscles.

Lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine (PC), is a precursor to choline and is frequently an ingredient in formulas that promise to boost ejaculate volume. However, the most effective form seems to be CDP-choline, which also occurs naturally in the body as a step between choline and PC. At doses of 250-750mg CDP-choline seems to be active more quickly and with lower side effects than choline.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 works with choline to increase NO production. It seems so counteract some of the muscle tension effects of choline and even alone increases sexual stamina and enjoyment. Vitamin B5 can be used alone or with choline at doses of 350-1000mg and can be taken 20 -30 minutes before sexual activity.

As in any area of life optimal nutrition facilitates optimal function, so supplementation with good quality vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids is recommend in addition to any pro-sexual supplements.

Further reading

Thorsons Guide to Amino Acids by Leon Chaitow

Better Sex Through Chemistry by John Morgenthaler and Dan Joy

Natural Sex Boosters by Ray Sahlelian

Kian practiced holistic massage for some years before completing the Sacred Intimate training with Body Electric USA in 1994. He is also trained in Osho Rebalancing deep tissue bodywork, holistic medical massage and Usui Reiki.  More info on his website www.pleasurelab.org

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