Socrates said, “It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Over the centuries, the idea of what makes a man healthy has changed very little. However, all of this seems to change with age when men witness how their health begins to affect lifestyle habits, relationships, and virility. Fortunately, Ayurveda offers important and effective herbs to meet both the internal and external needs of the male body. Of particular note are Ashwagandha, Shwet Musli, Gotu Kola, and Saffron.
Medical writer Elizabeth Santeramo suggests that a lack of awareness and insufficient health education, combined with unhealthy work and personal lifestyles, have caused a steady deterioration of well-being in men, both in general and as they age. Adding to this is the consumption of nutrient-deficient foods — mostly overcooked and processed — regardless of class or income status. The human body requires “real foods,” including non-toxic fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and balanced protein sources. These are the basic building blocks of health, immunity, and healing. Like all other systems and cells, those of the male hormonal system need specific nutrients to function optimally. The task of the Ayurvedic practitioner is to bring the body back into balance by feeding it what it needs.
Herbs Make a Difference
Shwet Musli (also called Safed Musli) is another herb of note for tackling male hormonal problems, especially pertinent to endurance and resilience. The plant’s tuberous roots have a long history of use in Ayurvedic aphrodisiac formulations. Shwet Musli is well-known as a fertility tonic that nourishes the mind as well as the nervous and reproductive systems. Musli is considered an herb that rivals the top pharmaceutical that rejuvenates the reproductive system, boosts strength, and increases stamina — sexual and otherwise. The plant, notes Ayurvedic doctor Jagdev Singh, is often indicated for general weakness and loss of immunity in men. Based on his experience and research, Singh believes that Shwet Musli is an adaptogenic herb that is effective in improving male performance, and developing muscular strength.
The next herb to consider for male health issues is Gotu Kola (also called Brahmi), especially in its role of providing mental clarity. In Indian philosophy, the root of the mind resides within the heart and radiates through the whole physical body. The great sage Ramana Maharshi said that the notion of “I,” the sense of self, arises from the heart, yet it is neither inside nor outside the body. This is the vital joining of consciousness with the body, by which the brain is used for navigating through this world of form and expression. And, with a healthy brain and body comes mental clarity — clear thinking — that is far less affected by the ravages of physical, emotional, and mental stress. Because so many cases of sexual dysfunction are related to the mind, relaxation is often the antidote.
Herbalist Cameron Allen explains that when he first began his plant-medicine journey, he was fascinated by Ayurvedic theory and came across Gotu Kola in its relationship to the three doshas. In Ayurveda, using Gotu Kola in moderation balances each dosha. The book The Yoga of Herbs reports that Gotu Kola is a nervine, which is a substance that relaxes and strengthens nerves. The plant has been traditionally used to increase intelligence, longevity, and memory. Gotu Kola also fortifies the immune system and strengthens the adrenal glands that play a key role in how we react to, and manage, stress — a major cause of male health problems, ranging from decreased sexual drive to erectile dysfunction.
The last Ayurvedic herb of note is Saffron and its relation to a healthy libido. While Saffron is most often recognized as a very expensive, golden-orange culinary herb, it has been used as a medicinal plant for millennia. In the Natural Medicine Journal, naturopathic doctor Mark Smith, ND, wrote that Saffron has a significant effect on improving depression and anxiety, and the plant increases the “feel good” brain hormone serotonin. Saffron also serves as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb that protects nerves and stimulates the hormonal system.
It’s All in the Body and Mind
The Ayurvedic concept of Brihana is a therapy focused on nourishing the entire body, which results in greater endurance, improved strength, and enhanced physical performance. Ayurvedic practitioners apply this philosophy to restore balance to enhance male strength and virility, vitality, blood sugar imbalance, energy, and sexual performance. Among the top herbs in the Ayurvedic medicine cabinet are Ashwagandha, Shwet Musli, Gotu Kola, and Saffron, but also helpful is daily meditation, exercise, a diet full of nutritious foods, and loving relationships.