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Sexuality and Core Vitality

couple.jpgChocolates, hearts, flowers, magic potions, and more chocolate: for many people, especially in the US, February, with its famous 14th, is the month most symbolic of love, romance and diving into the untold vast and sundry flavors of sexual intimacy.

One of the most epic accounts of the art (and science) of these flavors and allied skills is the Kama Sutra, written almost 2000 years ago. Sutra, in this case, means a "guide book."

Kama, which means desire or wish, is considered one of the four fundamental aims of a human"s life, the other three being Dharma (living in alignment with the greater good), Artha (the accumulation of resources), and Moksha (enlightenment).

Because Kama is so important there is an incredible collection of techniques to optimize the chances that our desires, especially the sexual ones, come within our grip and skillfully feed us.

Many of these methods to ensure deeply satisfying sexual merging experiences include herbs. Two of those herbs, the pas de deux of Ashwagandha and Shatavri, are amongst ORGANIC INDIA's best sellers. But unlike most aphrodisiacs, which can almost be termed as "superficial agitators," these two valuable herbs represent a more sustainable practice of deeply restoring and building core vitality, and then using the "overflow" of that vitality for creating whatever you would like, or love, as the case may be.

There is an energy in your body/mind, which Yoga and Ayurveda calls Ojas, that coalesces as the density of your core vitality. And once you have abundant Ojas you can channel it in three main directions:

  1. Down and out as sexually creative energy (including libido)
  2. Held steady and organ-centered as systemic rejuvenative energy
  3. Brought in and up as spiritually creative energy

Often, if there is a decrease in sexual energy then there is either a need for systemic restoration and/or a natural tendency toward spiritual pursuits and creativity. This, by the way, is why controlling sexuality in the context of spirituality has very little to do with "morality" and practically everything to do about "energy," specifically the direction of your core energy and attention.

So the first step toward sexual health in the case of a less than optimal libido is to be astute and see if the energy of sexuality is not available for sex because it is being used instead for much needed restoration/rejuvenation, systemically, or specific to a particular organ. When you judge this look at physical, emotional, intellectual and causal aspects of your being, of your "system." Don"t think just in terms of mass (like number of hormone molecules in a blood test) but think in terms of the qualitative energetic basis, because often we feel the most acute physical drains from the most chronic emotional strains.

Recently a friend, we"ll call him Pete, was feeling inadequate libido, so he took an herbal sexual stimulant, the agitating type, but it did not really work for him and rather just made him feel "wired" in a weird and weakening way. So I recommended that he take a combination of AshwagandhaShatavri and Guduchi, with a little Arjuna. After a few days of this he felt much more like "himself," and had a lovely sweet solid time loving up his partner. An interesting "side-effect" is that his general mood greatly improved as well.

Though they definitely have their time and place, the fact that the high frequency agitating herbal stimulant did not work for him in this case was an indication that he was actually drained, and his sexual energy was going toward inner replenishment.

On the other hand, Ashwagandha, Shatavri, Guduchi and Arjuna all rejuvenate the structure and function of many of our organs, and, all four herbs are also what are called "trophorestorative," meaning herbs that specifically nourish us at deep levels:

  • Ashwagandha – Reproductive and Nervous systems
  • Shatavri– Reproductive system and Liver
  • Guduchi – Reproductive system and Liver
  • Arjuna – Heart and Circulatory system

When Pete took Ashwagandha, he was increasing the density of core rejuvenative energy to the point where he could then use the overflow of that energy for sexuality, and because he is also quite a scholar and meditator, he also used some of that Ojas for inner evolution and growth. The fact that his mood increased here is key, as a sexual stimulant will not do this typically, but a core anabolic anti-stress adaptogen and rejuvenative like Ashwagandha and Shatavri will.  

So most likely his attenuation of sexual energy was due to a reduction in systemic core vitality that the Ashwagandha, Shatavri, Guduchi and Arjuna helped to correct. This is another case in point of how in Ayurveda and herbalism we find it by far best to treat the person (core vitality in this case), not the symptom (lack of libido this case).

The fact that so many people are so stressed and deeply drained is one of the main reasons that men (and women) take the "blue pill" to enhance sexual performance. Of course, this can add to the fun and delight, but there are problems with this. First of all it tends to equate simple firmness with sexual performance instead of that just being one possible facet of good sex, and secondly, the "blue pill" often covers up the symptoms of deeper emotional, physical, social and environmental imbalances. Yes, environmental!

In fact, if there were not so many toxic man-made xenoestrogens in our environment that are, molecule by molecule, robbing the masculinity of thousands of species, including humans, the sales of the "blue pill" would plummet. This is one of the many reasons why all ORGANIC INDIA"s herbs are organic and biodynamic, so there are no toxic xenoestrogens involved.

In cases of deeper imbalances precluding satisfying sex, Ayurveda would have you audit your physical diet (organic with no xenoestogens and lots of superfood herbs for instance), your intellect (belief systems that are askew to your actual sex life or desires, or just too much thought about something), your emotional world (is too much energy going into some deep unresolved issue), your Prana (is sufficient chi making it to where is needed), etc.

So, back to February, chocolate, hearts, and ways to enhance the Kama of lovemaking. One translation of Shatavri is "capable of having a hundred husbands" referring to how toned and lubricious Shatavri can make a woman's reproductive organs. Ashwagandha literally means "the grounded strength of a stallion." With definitions like this need I say anymore?

Ashwagandhais warming, and has more phytoandrogens while Shatavri is cooling and has more phytoestrogens. Since all of us have both estrogens and androgens, I always suggest that people use these two herbs together, as I mentioned before, a pad de deux, where women would tend to get a little more Shatavri and men a little more Ashwagandha, but everybody typically gets both. For their properties of nutritive trophorestorative adaptogens you can take 2-3 capsules a couple of times per day, and over time this dose will tend to also promote an "overflow" that can be used as creative energy, spiritually or sexually.

However, with a slightly increased dose, many people will experience a rise in libido within a hour or two. In fact, because sexual health is often an indication of systemic health, one way to see if a deep restorative herb is working is by being aware of libido levels.

By the way, if you experience too much libido, or if you are in a time where you are having less sex, simply bring that energy up and in to support other forms of creativity, like meditation, art, writing, or use it further rejuvenate yourself.

Because stress is one the main thieves of fun, including the fun and bliss of diving into sexual merging, anti-stress adaptogens, like Ashwagandha and Shatavri, as well as Tulsi (tea or capsules) and Brahmi will create the basic terrain from which you can enjoy yourself!  

Also, note that I mentioned Arjuna. Many herbalists, ethnopharmacologist and doctors will tell you that there is no better herb for the heart and spirit than Arjuna (which is the main herb in the Heart Guard formula). Arjuna helps to stabilize our emotions, increase our confidence, tighten our focus, and strengthen our heart; a great combination to set the stage for sexual escapades (focused confidence is sexy!)

You know the saying, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." In the same way, "the deeper your wellness goes the more ways you will be well, (including sexually wellness), and the deeper a depletion drains you, the more things will ail you and cause you to fail."

Without doubt, in so many cases, the deeply nutritive restorative herbs like Ashwagandha and Shatavri will drive wellness deep throughout your being and the subsequent pleasure of living an empowered life can then make everyday an enthralling Valentines day!