February 11th 2005 – This is an oldie but a goodie, written for the Herb list about 1996.
Avena Sativa: Oats for Anxiety, Libido, Bones and Adrenals
By Karen Vaughan
I have a good friend that is taking a doctor prescribed drug for depression & her anxiety attacks. Unfortuantely, one of the side effects is that her sex drive is slim to none. This is starting to cause a problem in her relationship with her mate.
Prozac and its related medications do depress sexual response in a significant number of people, (as does depression). Some of the related drugs may have a milder response on your friend. And dosage may make a difference. She should discuss this with her doctor.
Avena sativa is also called milky oats or oatstraw (but make sure it has seeds as well as greens to increase potency). It is the same oat plant that is used for oatmeal, but is usually harvested earlier, when the seeds are green, known as the “milky stage”. Eating oats and oatmeal may have some effect too, and is certainly delicious, but I don’t know of any studies on the mature forms regarding sexuality.
Oatstraw is rich in calcium and synergistic minerals and vitamins needed for building bones. Its steroidal saponins nourish the pancreas, liver and adrenals and help stabilize blood sugar levels. It reduces cholesterol and improves circulatory functioning. It is a nervine, that nourishes strong nerves, helps people deal with stress (Vitamin B complex), maintains restful sleep patterns and reduces the frequency and duration of headaches. It eases bladder spasms, incontinence, uterine pain and vaginal dryness. It stimulates sexual response.
The information I have recommends making an infusion of nettles and oatstraw for sexual response. Take an ounce of herb: 2 parts oatstraw and one part nettles and place in a quart jar or a pot with a lid. Pour in boiling water and leave overnight, or for at least four hours. Strain and drink at least 2 cups per day. Oatstraw alone is good too. (It’s delicious and soothing.)
I also tincture oatstraw and make oatstraw vinegars: fill a jar with oatstraw that you have just whirled in a blender, fill with 100 proof alcohol or apple cider vinegar, cap (for vinegar, put saran wrap over the top first) and let sit in a warm place for 6 weeks. Then decant and squeeze out the herb. Use a tablespoon of vinegar or 30 drops of tincture to substitute for the infusion. All three can be used in cooking.
Oatstraw infusions can be used in baths or sitz baths where it is absorbed through the skin. (And if your friend makes time for an oatstraw bath, slowing down and taking care of herself can help her feel sexy too.)
Since she will need lots of oatstraw, I suggest looking around for good prices. It can be purchased in bulk rather reasonably from Frontier Herbs Cooperative, may be in country feed stores (check for additives) and may grow wild. Eating oats is probably a good idea as well. I don’t forsee a time when I won’t drink or eat it – to stave off osteoporosis if nothing else. And it seems to help regulate my 12 year old son’s adolescent nervousness. (I suspect it normalizes rather than artificially increases sexual response, or I wouldn’t use it here!)
She may want to try damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca) as well. I have no direct experience, but Santillo says that it is a sexual rejuvinator of the sexual organs that has a tendency to overstimulate if used excessively. He recommends small frequent doses of the fluid extract or powder. Damiana is a traditional female aphrodisiac.
Ashwaganda may be of use too, although I am more familiar with its use in males. Look at Michael Tierra’s web site www.Planetherbs.com for more.
Acupuncture and Herbs by Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
253 Garfield Place 1R
Brooklyn, NY 11215 US