The health benefits of turmeric have made it one of the most popular ingredients on the spice shelf. You could even call it the golden child of the spice world! But while it’s acclaimed for many impressive health benefits, the ones we’re focusing on here are turmeric sex benefits. So does turmeric help sexually? Let’s explore this healing spice’s aphrodisiac potential.
The use of turmeric in history
Turmeric comes from the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia. It is a member of the ginger family. Turmeric has been used as both food and medicine throughout history. It is credited with relieving inflammation and the pain of arthritis as well as improving brain function. It is also known to return a natural glow to tired skin.
And if you have experience using it in cooking, you will probably not be surprised to learn that it’s also been used as a fabric dye.
Turmeric aphrodisiac history
Because turmeric originated in India and Southeast Asia, its aphrodisiac history is rooted in cultures from these regions. According to Erotic Cuisine: a natural history of aphrodisiac cookery, the Malays are particularly fond of turmeric as an aphrodisiac as well as a childbirth tonic.
Turmeric’s use in Ayurvedic medicine includes boosting mood. (Some say this can be a gateway to intimacy.) But has also been used to promote blood circulation. And this may be where the sexual benefits of turmeric truly lie.
Does turmeric help sexually?
The abilities of turmeric as an aphrodisiac even made their way into the great Indian tome of lovemaking, Kama Sutra. In the book, the spice is mentioned as one of the key ingredients in distilled liquor. This use as a sex tonic is repeated in other cultures.
According to The Encyclopedia of Aphrodisiacs: Psychoactive Substances for Use in Sexual Practices, turmeric was used in an Indonesian love tonic, mixed with fennel and galangal. The book also recommends 1 gram per cup of water as an infusion to accompany tantric sex.
Of course, all of these historic uses for turmeric sexually were based in folklore, not science. But thanks to modern nutritional research and medicine, we’re starting to understand just how turmeric may be able to give your sex life a boost, particularly if you are a man.
Turmeric benefits for men
Some of the most interesting research on turmeric is the spice’s potential impact on men’s sexual health.
Most of the attention when it comes to turmeric benefits for men is on turmeric’s impact on heart health. As one 2008 study demonstrates, a key health-boosting substance in turmeric called curcumin can help improve both cholesterol and blood pressure in men. (Curcumin is a plant substance found in turmeric believed to have many natural healing properties. It is recognized for anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits.)
How does this help men’s sexual health? Healthy blood flow is essential for both sexual arousal and climax. So heart health is a key factor in assuring optimal sexual performance. And of course, heart health is important for any physical activity.
Curcumin and testosterone
In addition, recent studies have shown fairly conclusively that curcumin may increase testosterone, a sex hormone essential to muscle development and sperm production. But it not only can increase testosterone itself, but it may also block estrogen production and accelerate fat loss. (Body fat can lock up testosterone, so by shedding excess fat, you can actually help free up the testosterone you already have by reducing your BMI.)
Can it increase sex drive?
Testosterone levels are closely linked with men’s libido. This means that turmeric has the potential to be a potent, natural libido booster for men. The question remains how much curcumin is enough. And what impact does it have on women’s sexual health? Could it also boost women’s sex drive? These are among the many mysteries of turmeric’s health benefits still waiting to be answered.
Can turmeric treat erectile dysfunction?
According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2018, a topical ointment made from curcumin in turmeric can help treat erectile dysfunction. With regular application, the ointment, which reduced inflammation, increased blood flow to the groin and improved vasodilation.
Unfortunately, the study was done with male rats and to my knowledge, there have been no conclusive follow-up studies on human subjects. But for men suffering from erectile problems, it could be worth discussing the potential of turmeric helping sexually with a medical professional.
May fight prostate cancer
Lastly, there is some interesting research that shows curcumin’s potential to fight prostate cancer. In one 2015 study, researchers found that a combination of turmeric and the alpha-tomatine found in tomatoes can help stop the growth of prostate cancer cells. (A separate study in 2016 found that curcumin can improve the body’s natural antioxidant status of someone undergoing radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.) However, if you are undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, consult your physician before adding turmeric or curcumin to your treatment plan.
Are you using turmeric all wrong?
Now, if you’re planning to boost your sexual health – or reap any of the health benefits of turmeric – there’s something about curcumin you should know.
Many of the recipes recommending turmeric as the flavoring of a “healing tonic” or curative soup, tea or porridge are using it all wrong. That’s not to say that you can’t use turmeric in any dish for flavoring and color. But if you’re trying to use turmeric for its health benefits, you should use it in combination with the right ingredient, like black pepper.
Why you need to combine turmeric with black pepper or fat
Why? The curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. But when it’s combined with a compound in black pepper called piperine, the absorbency increases by about 2,000%!
Another way to increase the absorption of curcumin is by combining turmeric with fat. Some studies have suggested that, because turmeric is fat-soluble, it will be better absorbed with fat.
Should you use fresh or powdered?
The aphrodisiac benefits of turmeric to sexual health and libido appear to be equally powerful when using fresh or the powdered spice. But combining it with the right compound to release its power appears to be the key to its success.
Unleash turmeric sex benefits with some of my favorite recipes
This article was written in 2010 and most recently updated in August 2021.
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