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It’s not uncommon to look for ways to boost your sex drive.
Although pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra may help men get an erection, many people prefer natural alternatives that are readily available, discreet, and likely to have fewer side effects.
Interestingly, research has shown that several foods and supplements may help boost your libido — and treat erectile dysfunction (ED), if that’s a concern for you.
Here are 7 foods and supplements that may help spark your sex drive.
Tribulus terrestris is a small leafy plant whose roots and fruit are popular in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine (1).
It’s also widely available as a sports supplement and commonly marketed to boost testosterone levels and improve sex drive.
While human studies haven’t shown that it can raise testosterone levels, it appears to increase sex drive in both men and women. In fact, in a 90-day study in women reporting low sexual pleasure, taking 750 mg of Tribulus terrestris daily increased sexual satisfaction in 88% of participants (2).
What’s more, a 2-month study in men revealed that taking 750–1,500 mg of Tribulus terrestris daily improved sexual desire in 79% of them (3).
However, studies in men with ED show mixed results.
One study found that taking 800 mg of this supplement daily for 30 days did not treat ED. Conversely, in another study, taking 1,500 mg daily for 90 days improved erections as well as sexual desire (4, 5).
As such, more research is needed on Tribulus terrestris and ED.
Tribulus terrestris may help raise libido in men and women. Yet results regarding its ability to treat ED are inconsistent, so more research is needed.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable traditionally used to enhance fertility and sex drive. You can buy supplements in various forms, including powders, capsules, and liquid extracts.
A 12-week study from 2002 noted that 42% of men who took 1,500–3,000 mg of maca daily experienced an increased sex drive (6).
Furthermore, according to one review, maca may act as a natural aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire in men. It may also help treat ED, but more research is needed (7).
Additionally, some evidence suggests that maca may help combat the loss in libido that may occur as a side effect of certain antidepressant drugs (8).
Most studies found that taking 1.5–3.5 grams daily for at least 2–12 weeks was sufficient to boost libido (6, 7).
Maca may help boost libido and improve ED in men with mild symptoms.
Ginseng — red ginseng in particular — may aid low libido and improve sexual function.
In fact, a review of 10 studies found that red ginseng was effective at improving sexual arousal in women with menopause (9).
In addition, red ginseng may boost the production of nitric oxide, a compound that aids blood circulation and helps muscles in the penis relax. In fact, studies have revealed that this herb is significantly more effective at enhancing erectile function than a placebo (10, 11).
However, other studies have found no effect of red ginseng on libido or sexual function, and some experts question the strength of these studies (12, 13, 14).
So, more research is needed.
It’s also important to know that while red ginseng is generally well tolerated, it may cause side effects, such as headaches and upset stomach.
It may also interact with medications like blood thinners, so those who take them may want to consult a medical professional before use (15).
Red ginseng may boost libido and enhance erectile function, though more research is needed.
Fenugreek is a popular herb in alternative medicine that may help enhance libido and improve sexual function.
It contains compounds that your body may use to produce sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone (16, 17).
A 12-week study found that supplementing with 600 mg of fenugreek extract daily improved sexual function and increased testosterone levels in 120 middle-aged and older men (18).
Similarly, an 8-week study in 80 women with low libido determined that taking 600 mg of fenugreek daily significantly improved sexual arousal and desire, compared with the placebo group (19).
That said, very few human studies have examined fenugreek and libido, so more research is needed.
In addition, this herb interacts with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. If you’re taking a blood thinner, speak with a healthcare professional before taking fenugreek (20).
Fenugreek may boost libido by encouraging the production of sex hormones.
Saffron is a delicious spice derived from the Crocus sativus flower.
Its many traditional uses range from reducing stress to acting as an aphrodisiac, especially for people on antidepressants.
In fact, some studies show that saffron could improve sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants in both men and women (21).
What’s more, one review of six studies reported that saffron was able to improve erectile function, sexual desire, and satisfaction in men (22).
Additionally, a review of 5 studies in 173 people noted that saffron significantly improved various aspects of sexual pleasure, desire, and arousal in men and women (23).
However, in people who don’t have depression or are not taking antidepressants, results are mixed (10).
Saffron may boost libido in people on antidepressants, but its effects are inconsistent in those not taking these drugs.
Ginkgo biloba is a popular herbal supplement in traditional Chinese medicine.
According to some older research and animal studies, it may treat various issues, including sexual disorders like ED and low libido. This is because it can raise blood levels of nitric oxide, which aids blood flow by promoting the expansion of blood vessels (24, 25, 26).
That said, studies in humans reveal mixed results.
When combined with other compounds like L-arginine, zinc, and Tribulus terrestris, supplements containing ginkgo biloba have been shown to improve libido and sexual function in men and women (27, 28).
However, several other studies have shown that ginkgo biloba on its own had little to no impact on libido or other aspects of sexual dysfunction in men (29).
Ginkgo biloba may treat various aspects of sexual dysfunction because it can raise levels of nitric oxide. However, studies are inconsistent and more research is needed.
L-citrulline is an amino acid naturally produced by your body.
Your body then converts it into L-arginine, which helps improve blood flow by producing nitric oxide to dilate your blood vessels. This, in turn, may treat ED (30).
For example, a small 2011 study in 24 men with mild ED found that taking 1.5 grams of L-citrulline daily significantly improved symptoms in 50% of participants after 1 month (31).
In another 30-day study in men, taking a daily combination of 800 mg of L-citrulline and 300 mg of trans-resveratrol improved erectile function and hardness, compared with the placebo treatment (32).
Trans-resveratrol, commonly known as resveratrol, is a plant compound that functions as an antioxidant and is linked to numerous health benefits.
L-citrulline is available as a dietary supplement in capsule or powder form but is naturally present in foods like watermelon, dark chocolate, and nuts.
L-citrulline may aid men with ED because it can raise blood nitric oxide levels.
Several other foods and supplements are commonly promoted as libido boosting. However, they don’t have as much supporting evidence.
Here are several foods that may boost your libido:
Due to limited human research, it’s unclear how these foods and supplements compare with pharmaceutical libido boosters like Viagra or Roman ED. Other services like Hims, Lemonaid, and Giddy can help you customize your own ED treatment and have your medications sent directly to you.
Many other foods and supplements may boost libido, but they’re supported by less scientific evidence.
If you’re looking to boost your sex drive, you’re not alone.
A few foods and supplements may even act as aphrodisiacs, including tribulus, maca, red ginseng, fenugreek, saffron, gingko biloba, and L-citrulline.
Most of these are well tolerated and widely available, making them easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
Keep in mind some of these libido-boosting foods and supplements may interact with certain drugs. If you take medication, you may want to consult a medical professional beforehand.
Last medically reviewed on September 23, 2021
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.
Our team of licensed nutritionists and dietitians strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.
This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.



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