According to Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest healing systems, aphrodisiacs are not only nourishing to our sexual organs, but also to the nervous system and entire body.
While in the western world the word “aphrodisiac” generally means substances used to stimulate sexual desire and increase pleasure performance, Ayurveda reveals their deeper power.
From 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.
Ah, 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 also holds the capacity to create and replenish one’s own energy, returning this power back to the cells of the body with the vitality of youth.
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 and mind.
Though the smallest in quantity of the seven 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 and endurance in all that we do. 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 and reproductive fluids.
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 and strength, the weakening of the immune system, and 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 and 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, many believe it’s more about the “right use of energy” instead.
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 in to the subtle flow of energy and 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 and 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 and mind, Ayurveda states that most diseases involve some misuse of sexual energy.
According to David Frawley in his book, 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 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 disturbed and the pull toward sexual indulgence 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, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Typical herbal aphrodisiacs include Asafoetida, Ashwagandha, Ginseng, Hibiscus, Rose, Shilajit, Pippali, and 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 any time 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-ons from above.
Add all ingredients to small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, 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!
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