Yes, it’s that time of year again. Though of course, people are less likely to need aphrodisiacs in spring, when the sap is rising and – as the joke goes – ‘young men’s fancy turns to what young women have been thinking of all year’.
While love potions belong more in the realm of magic than in the modern herbalist’s everyday repertoire, we do get asked for herbs to help boost libido or deal with impotence.
There are herbs, like Korean ginseng, Damiana or the aptly-named Horny Goat-Weed (Epimedium sagittatum), that stimulate testosterone, and so help promote desire for both men and women. There are herbs like Asparagus root and Chinese Angelica that can help with vaginal dryness, and so make lovemaking more pleasant.
But sexual energy is only one aspect of life energy, and if your general vitality is low, or your emotional state – particularly for women – is not right, then your appetite for sex is likely to suffer. And there are plenty of herbs that help to feed your life energy and support your nervous system, from straightforward ‘feeders’ like Oat Straw or Dandelion Root, to anxiety-soothers like Passion Flower or Scullcap.
What the herbs can’t do is untangle the emotional issues in a relationship.
All too often, there’s a backlog of resentments and hurts, not being heard or understood, and even sheer boredom, that gradually erodes the sexual energy between two people. You can use herbs to boost the will and the courage to tackle these issues, but no amount of aphrodisiacs will make them go away.
So perhaps the Valentine’s Day roses – which stand for unconditional love – are a good place to start, after all.