The Wonderful World  of Herbs

1.What Is an Herb?

 2.How to Choose and Use Herbs

Herbs to Improve Your Sex Life

 3.Increasing Your Sexual Desire and Drive

 4.Increasing Your Sexual Pleasure

 5.Relieving Male Menopause, Prostate Problems, and Impotence

 6.Relieving Female Menopause and Premenstrual Syndrome

 7.Controlling Health Conditions that Affect Sex

 8.Improving Your Overall Well-Being

 9.Sex Herb Combinations


What is an Herb?

What do you think of when you hear the word "sex herb combinations"? A contented cow munching on grass?  All those Latin plant names you had to memorize in his school?  Your Aunt Lucy's secret recipe for pasta sauce?  A New -Age vegetarian type snipping little green things from the pots lined up outside the back of an old VW bus?

A Simple Definition

"Herb" is one of those words that conjure up a variety of unusual   images in our minds.  Yet; the definition is actually straightforward:  An herb is any part of any plant that humans find a personal use for, such as cooking, flavoring, medicine, aroma, or bathing.  In fact, the term "herb" is slowly giving away to a more inclusive and perhaps better-understood word: "botanical."   So, that container of shampoo or body lotion you bought last week with the term "botanical" as part of its name simply contains herbs to improve your sex life - or plants  (though it likely contains other products as well).

Discovering the Uses of Herbs

The part of the plant used as an herb or botanical could be the leaf, steam, flower, root, bark, berry, or seed.  Different parts of even the same plant can have wildly different   effects. Some roots, for example, may be deadly while the leaf of the same plant may be harmless.  Some herbs can only be used externally, while others can be safely eaten.

Given all these variables, can you imagine how painstaking it must have been for the ancients to begin sorting through the various uses for herbs?   Despite the difficulties, the effort to understand the role of herbs can be seen throughout history all over the wonderful world  of herbs.  Perhaps that's one reason why the role of healer has been revered everywhere.  Whatever the title - "healer," "medicine woman,"  "Shaman," "curadero," "herbalist," and more - these people   were, and in many regions still are, responsible for knowing  (among other thing) the appropriate uses of hundreds or even thousands of local herbs.

Ironically, today in our 'small world" we are in the enviable position of being able to benefit from herbs grown all over.  Yet, many of us are less likely than our ancestors to use this  sex knowledge to enhance our controlling health conditions that affect sex and well being, deferring instead to what we now call "traditional western medicine."  The reason?  There are many.  But perhaps the most important   and most relevant for this book is our reliance on "scientific method" to prove the safety and effectiveness of any given therapy.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Herbs

The big question remains: can herbs improving your overall well-being your sex life?  Millions of people  throughout  the ages would say,  "Absolutely!'  Many physicians would say, "Probably not,  except in a few circumstances."  Why  the widely diverging opinions?  And what should you think - and do -with such conflicting stories?

In our society today, there are two basic ways to assess the effectiveness of any substance or treatment, be it herb or medicine: these are the scientific method carefully design studies to control other variables that could affect the results.  So, for example, if scientists were investigating a new medication, several steps would be followed:

Testing on animals to see if the treatment has any effect.
Testing on a few humans, usually people who are extremely ill or who have tried every other therapy to no avail.  This helps establish the range of doses that are effective without being toxic.

"Double-blind" testing with a larger group of people who could potentially benefit from the therapy.  One group receives the test therapy, while the other group receives a placebo (such as a "sugar pill") that will not affect them - or receives no treatment at all.  Ideally, neither the patients nor those involved in the study know who is receiving which treatment, hence the term double blind.  Testing usually runs for several years.  Results between the two groups are then compared

For medications and other therapies, once the study is completed, the researchers apply to the U.S.  Food and Drug Administration for approval to market the product or therapy.  The application includes all test results and any noted side effects.  The FDA can take years to review the results, request additional studies, and make a decision

As you can see, this research process is lengthy and expensive.  And the payoff is not guaranteed - after all, herbs cannot be patented, unlike prescription drugs.  Any research one company would conduct to prove the usefulness of its herb could easily prove the usefulness of the competitor's herb as well.  An herbal product can only be patented if an active ingredient is extracted and formulated into a separate product.  Yet, if a company pursues this route, they must follow all the FDA requirements for investigating a new medication.  The process and cost involved in this type of research put it beyond   the reach of most companies that market herbal preparations.  In fact, one company that was trying to develop medicines based on herbs discovered in rainforests just gave up, stating that the FDA process was both too expensive and cumbersome.  Instead, it is forming a new subsidiary to market herbal supplements and other herbal products, for which there are no FDA requirements.

The lack of detailed research about the efficacy of an herb forces us either to ignore the possible benefits that come from using herbs or to rely on another type of research: anecdotal evidence.  Anecdotes are simply individual reports of a person's experience with an herb.  As anecdotes collect over time, you can often begin to see patterns in what works, and how.  This is the way the effectiveness of herbs has been "documented" throughout the ages.  However, this method isn't foolproof.  For example, if you began taking an herb to increase your sexual pleasure, it may be difficult to tell whether a positive effect came from the herb itself or from some other factor, such as adjusting blood pressure medication or practicing meditation to relieve stress or simply being   hopeful that you can make an important change in your life

It's this lack of "control" over the research that leads many physicians and patients to discount herbal therapies until they have been "proven" scientifically.  Nonetheless, anecdotes do provide at least a general indication of what works - and its primary type of research relied on in this book

So what should you make of this?  First, remember that most of us are looking for herbs to enhance sex, not to treat a serious health condition.  For this purpose, as long as you use caution, you're unlikely to be hurt and may find benefits from using herbs.  It will probably take some time and experimentation, however, to discover the combination of herbs that works best for your needs.

  Did You Know

Many pharmaceutical researchers focus on identifying plants with medicinal properties.  Traditionally, research for these plants - called phytopharmaceuticals (phyto meaning to ward off or protect) - has been spearheaded by university schools of pharmacy or government   researchers.  However, the giant pharmaceuticals companies are increasingly conducting phytopharamaceutical research themselves, in hopes of identifying their next highly profitable breakthrough   drugs.

As much as 75 percent of all patented medications are derived from herbs.  One example is digoxin, which is the primary ingredient for many drugs manufactured to treat heart disease.  You may be interested to know that digoxin is derived from leaves from the common foxlove plant.   (But don't eat foxlove on your own!  Foxlove is considered highly poisonous.)

For folks who have serous health problems that in some way inhibit sex, you'll want to use even more caution, keep your healthcare team informed about any herbs you use, and consider consulting with someone who understands herbs.  Many "traditional" physicians and nurses are taking the time to learn more about herbs and other "alternative" therapies.  Also, herbalists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and other alternative healthcare practitioners can provide valuable assistance.  Look for someone who has had professional training and is certified in herbal medicine.