Yes, that’s a Marvin Gaye reference.
These days, who doesn’t have some sexual healing to do? Many of us have endured or at least been exposed to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and/or sexual trauma. At once a taboo subject and an oversaturated trope, we live in a confusing, “sex sells” society that conflates capitalism with sexuality and objectifies bodies, establishing a culture of hectic sexual supremacy. Most articles linking herbal medicine and sexual well-being are aphrodisiac-centric, but our herbal allies can help us in much deeper ways than stimulating our genitals with increased peripheral blood flow (the action of many aphrodisiac herbs).
Herbs can work on subtle levels which transcend the mere physical realm to hold us as we process our emotions, heal our hearts, and establish healthy energetic boundaries. Herbal medicine of this sort is best if supported by consistent professional counseling, reflection and self work, and other appropriate therapies, especially if dealing with assault or trauma. When working with herbs energetically, it’s recommended to take very small doses of tincture (1-5 drops 2-5x/day), a few sips of tea (2-5x/day), or a flower essence (as directed on label).
Hawthorn For Heart Healing and Strong Boundaries
Sexual healing first and foremost involves healing the heart. Hawthorn is arguably the most versatile and important heart medicine in our western pharmacopoeia. On a physical level, Hawthorn is a cardiac tonic, normalizes blood pressure, is an antioxidant and rich in bioflavonoids, and protects the myocardium, among other actions. The berries tonify and strengthen blood vessels and the peripheral veins, a necessary function for circulation, sensation, and sexual health. On an energetic level, Hawthorn can be used for protection and healing of the emotional heart, opening the heart center, expressing the heart’s desires, and giving and receiving love. Appropriately a member of the rose family, Hawthorn trees boast large thorns, and is unsurprisingly wonderful boundary medicine, helping us to both soothe and protect our hearts from further hurt. The May-blooming flowers of the Hawthorn are also associated with sex and fertility, mostly due to their bodily scent– they release a compound called trimethylamine to attract carrion insects.
Calamus for Endurance, Vigor, Clarity, and Voice
Take one look at Calamus and you’ll get it– this herb is a vivid illustration of the “doctrine of signatures” as Walt Whitman noted in his sequence of poems entitled “Calamus” from Leaves of Grass: “O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me, and returns again/never to separate from me,/And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of comrades, this /calamus-root shall.”
This was thought to be among Whitman’s clearest poetic expressions of homosexual love. Topically, an oil or salve of the root is said to have aphrodisiac qualities and ingesting medicine from the root will increase bodily endurance and vigor, allowing for the physical self to perform even when malnourished or tired. The chewed root is also known for its support of female reproductive issues and is one of the few herbs that truly soothes the pain from endometriosis. Calamus can help to unscatter energy, focus attention, and bring people back to their body during panic attacks or trauma. Energetically, Calamus can gift us clarity of perception, a shift from looking to seeing. Both physically and energetically, Calamus helps us use our voice, which is paramount in any sexual relationship.
Lemon Balm for Trauma, Desire, and Viral Load
Lemon Balm is such a sweet, well liked herb that it’s easy to forget just how potent it is. An Iranian double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study found that regularly administered Lemon Balm tea helped to relieve the symptoms of hypoactive sexual dysfunction in women in all 6 criteria areas: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain. Interestingly enough, on the opposite side of the spectrum, Lemon Balm is known to assuage complaints of excessive sexual excitement, and symptoms like excessive body heat, redness, and sweating upon arousal. A versatile nervine, Lemon Balm is a reliable ally for folks experiencing nervousness that manifests as stomach discomfort, panic attacks, reacting to recent trauma, or who can’t calm down or feel calm after a traumatic event. Lemon Balm is also a heavy-hitting antiviral herb, and is indispensable in managing sexually transmitted viruses like HPV and HSV. Energetically, Lemon Balm can increase low emotional capacity for sex and emotional intimacy.
Passionflower for Managing Sensory Overload, Opening the Heart
Passionflower is a stunningly beautiful sedative nervine, hypnotic, and antispasmodic herb, with the ability to slow racing thoughts and relax the body, specifically in cases of muscle spasms, physically manifested anxiety, and heart palpitations due to stress or sensory overload. A great choice for insomnia due to scattered, rapid thinking, Passionflower allows us a necessary break to rest and recharge. Passionflower holds those who go easily into overload and become physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted to the point that it prevents them from connecting to others, leaving them to retreat inward—a true ally for many who identify as neurodivergent. Energetically, Passionflower is indicated for those that need to soften and open up to love, especially when withdrawal is caused by stress and hypersensitivity. This herb also contains a chemical called chrysin, which has shown the potential to increase testosterone and boost sex drive, a 2012 trial revealed; chrysin is thought to decrease the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in all genders.
Milky Oats for Deep Nourishment, Sowing Oats
Milky Oats are a nervine trophorestorative, sexual trophorestorative, demulcent, and nutritive herb which boasts more vitamins and minerals than almost any food available in the marketplace. The milky latex emitted at peak ripeness is also considered to be a valuable love potion. Milky Oats supports sexual health by nourishing the endocrine system, regulating hormones, moistening mucosal glands, and restoring nerve health. This in turn increases libido and physical, mental, and emotional fortitude and resilience. Milky Oats are an important remedy for sexual debility across the gender spectrum. In bodies assigned female at birth, Milky Oats can be helpful in cases of infertility due to poor nutrition and/or stress, as well as premenstrual syndrome and amenorrhea, or missing menses. Milky Oats is also an excellent post-partum restorative, and can help to increase breast milk production. In bodies assigned male at birth, the age old adage of “sowing your wild oats,” effectively illustrates the effect on reproductive function. No matter the body type, Milky Oats gives us all the deep, juicy nourishment we need as sexual, healing beings in the world!
For more ideas, check out The Alchemist’s Kitchen’s Season of Love collection!