LUST FOR LIFE – HOW TO BENEFIT FROM HERBAL ENERGIZERS & APHRODISIACS

“Lust for Life” is a term I use to describe what happens when you perceive your life as being an exciting “event” in which you are involved. Having the “lust” is partly a question of perspective. It’s also a question of having some kind of faith (believing that your life has a purpose and that you have a role to play in the grand scheme, no matter how small). It’s also a question of “drive”, “energy” or “Qi”. There are many things that can adversely affect our motivation or energy, sleep deprivation and stress being chief among them. Across the board, in America, it’s safe to say that most of us suffer from a mild form of depression. This may come and go; or for some of us, may be chronic. Depression is epidemic in this country and there is a lot of evidence to show that many chronically depressed people are physically drained first, with mental depression occurring as the result. In other words, the negative mental attitude is secondary to the physical fatigue. Being cognitive by nature, we usually try to “assign” the negative feelings to other people or events that put us in a “bad mood”. But in many respects, depression may not be an issue of the mind, the will or soul, but rather, it can be a direct result of the body being drained and pulling the mind down with it. As busy Americans leading stressful lives, it’s easy to ignore our physical needs. Often when we finish our workday, we have little or no energy left for our own pursuits. Without “down-time” for creative outlets and personal interests, the cycle of “dissatisfaction” and “stress” continues. It’s pretty hard to be motivated or enthused about anything when the body is drained and the nervous system is depressed, anxious or dissatisfied.

So to increase your enthusiasm for life, consider first increasing the physical body’s energy (Qi). Chances are, the mind will follow. You can use herbs to meet this goal. By employing aromatherapy practices, by including fresh or dried herbs in your cooking and by drinking herbal teas and tonics, you can find balance.
A balanced body sets the stage for a lively mind. When you use herbs to increase physical energy and stimulate the senses, the added benefits are disease prevention, increased immunity (wellness) and pure pleasure.

Herbs that Energize
Energizing herbs work by cleansing the blood, increasing oxygen in the body and by improving digestion, so that you are able to get more energy from the foods you eat.Think of it in terms of brown food vs. green food. Unfortunately, these days our diets are mostly made up of brown food (bread, potatoes, coffee, crackers, pasta, meat, peanuts, etc.). In the plant world, brown means dead and green means alive. So, what we want to do is decrease the amount of brown food and increase the amount of green (yellow, orange, red, purple) or “alive” food. You can accomplish this by juicing fresh fruits and vegetables and by eating more green salads including herbs like dandelion, basil, parsley and mint.

Green or chlorophyll rich substances (like green teas, nettles tincture, comfrey lotion, pure energy green powders) will increase oxygen to the body’s cells. The molecular structure of Chlorophyll closely resembles that of human hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying component of our blood). So if you increase your intake of chlorophyll it should help correct any blood imbalances and also increase the hemoglobin’s ability to carry oxygen to the body’s cells. This will make you feel younger, more energetic, more relaxed and pain-free.

Caffeine stimulates the adrenals (the glands in charge of the fight or flight response). Although the initial response to drinking coffee is energy boost, dependency on caffeine will drain the body and can stimulate the brain/nervous system in ways that are not optimum. Use coffee and caffeine-rich teas in moderation. It’s best to have caffeine-free days. If giving up the caffeine is just too difficult for you, substitute Yerba Mate.

This herbal tea is the morning beverage of choice in countries like Uraguay and Argentina. It contains “mateine” which is a component of caffeine but less taxing on the adrenals. It has many of the benefits of a green tea and is rich in calcium. Coffee can cause the body to lose calcium. Calcium is crucial for muscle relaxation (and bone health). Like caffeine, mateine stimulates the nervous system and increases clarity of thought. Unlike caffeine, it is showing itself to be non-addictive and nutritious. Another good beverage to substitute for coffee is Rooibos tea (caffeine-free, full of healthy minerals and relaxing phytochemicals).

Herbs that contain saponins or glycosides like Siberian Ginseng, help the body lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. This will increase energy. The great thing about Ginseng is it’s an adaptogenic herb. This means it helps the body adjust to internal or external stressors. Ginseng is a balancing herb---unlike coffee or ephedra which contain stimulant alkaloids. Alkaloids don’t support, they push the body. Ginseng offers energy without “jolting” the body (which drains the adrenals). Therefore it is useful during menopause (as a tonic, used for 2 weeks to 2 months). It can also help the body recover from an illness or period of stress. As an aphrodisiac, ginseng is used when erectile dysfunction is an issue (thus the name which translated means “Essence of Man”). Beware of commercial “love potions” which usually include overdoses of herbs like guarana, yohimbe and ephedra that cause: 1) overactive heart rate 2) perspiration 3) pressure in the veins 4) nervous system impairment/numbness, etc. You can use ginseng in the form of tea, tincture or candy.

Another energizing herb is licorice. It contains MAO inhibitors, making it a natural anti-depressant. Licorice can increase the heart rate and circulation somewhat (much in the way that caffeine does). This will give a sense of increased energy but unlike coffee there is no “let down” feeling when the chemical wears off. In fact, licorice actually supports adrenal function. You can include licorice in the form of tea, tincture or candy. (Imports contain real licorice extract, American licorice candies do not). You can eat up to ½ oz of licorice candy safely, when needed. DO NOT OVERUSE LICORICE. AVOID LICORICE IF YOU ARE ALREADY TAKING AN MAO INHIBITOR, OR IF YOU HAVE HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE OR IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR NURSING.

Phytoestrogens to Increase Lust for Life
Since our hormones are in charge of all body functions and our hormone levels are constantly being knocked out of “whack”, it makes sense to include phytoestrogens in the diet. Supplementing the diet with a variety of phytoestrogens will increase sexual desire and will also help “balance” hormone levels. Remember: A balanced person is a happy person! Finding that balance is not easy. So be careful not to overdo. Eat some soy nuts now and then, add flaxseed oil into your salad dressings, use fresh parsley in your salads, drink herbal teas containing fennel seed. Treat yourself to a tonic which includes some dong quai tincture now and then. Avoid estrogenic boosters if you are pregnant or if you have an estrogen-fed tumor.

Using Aromatherapy to Energize.and Create Passion
By breathing pure plant essences, you are able to take in phytochemicals that mix with your own body chemistry in a way that can stimulate the central nervous system (and therefore increase the abilities of your 5 senses). One of the things that depression does is ----it kind of puts a “film coating” on your ability to taste, smell, see, feel. In other words, the senses are deadened. Even if you don’t consider yourself depressed, there are studies that show that too much time spent on the phone, in the car, by the TV or on the computer can result in decreased sensory abilities and decreased immune function. Poor diets can result in poor motor function, etc. So we are ALL affected. By using plant phytochemicals aromatherapeutically, the 5 senses can be stimulated.

When the 5 senses are stimulated----let’s face it---life is more pleasant and exciting. What usually occurs next, is the 6th sense (imagination) kicks in---and then life is filled with creative drive and passion.
Suddenly, even simple things can have new meaning. Curiosity is peaked and the eyes are opened to all the little things going on around us. Here are some suggestions to “turn on” your lust for life.

Stimulating essences: Rosemary (stimulates thought and memory), Eucalyptus (stimulates circulation), Peppermint (thought and appetite), Bergamot, Lemon Verbena, Basil, Coriander.

Anti-depressant essences: Include Lavender, Geranium, Rose, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Basil, Orange.

Aphrodisiacs – Herbs and essences labeled as aphrodisiacs can work in many ways. Some herbs are considered aphrodisiacs because they mimic human pheromones. The word pheromone stems from the Greek word “pherin” (to transfer) and the word “hormone” to excite. Pheromones are the nearly imperceptible sex-gland odors that all humans and animals secrete. The more pheromones you secrete, the more “attractive” or “charismatic” you will appear to the people around you. By wearing an essence or essence blend that contains plant pheromones, you can increase your ability to “transfer excitement” to those around you. Or just alter your own mood. This has applications that could even come out of the bedroom and into the boardroom! In other words, this can work on a sexual or non-sexual level, depending on the essence blend and how you use it. A good aphrodisiac blend will contain pheromone mimickers and also essences which stimulate or “entrance” the nervous system (cause endorphin release and/or sedate tense nerves).

Aphrodisiac Essences: Sandalwood, vetiver, elemi, patchouli, rose, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, coriander, ginger, neroli, ylang ylang.

HOW TO USE AROMATHERAPEUTIC ESSENCES:

4-5 drops in the melted wax of an unscented candle.
6-10 drops in a warm tub
2 drops in 1 Tablespoon of Massage oil and rub into skin
2 drops on a cotton ball held under the nose.
4 drops in a basin of steamy water and breath the steam
Make an aromatherapeutic spray to use on pillow cases or in your hair.

Make your own aromatherapeutic perfume:
Add 2 drops per each ml. of jojoba oil – For instance, fill a 1/2 oz vial with jojoba and add 30 drops essence.

Remember, essential oils are chemicals. Avoid direct contact with your skin. Keep out of eyes. Keep out of reach of children. Keep away from heat. Essential oils are flammable! Be sure to research the essence before you use it. For instance, rosemary should not be used by pregnant women or those with hypertension or epilepsy

Author's Bio: 

Herbalist and aromatherapy specialist, Laura Davimes is also the owner of HerbanAvenues.com which provides all-natural herbal products and services and The Green Lemon Tea Bar. Laura teaches aromatherapy and herbal lifestyle classes in Wellness Centers all over Virginia.