Herbs and Natural Remedies for Sexual Health
by Emma Bamford
There are many herbal preparations with well-documented effects on both physical and mental health; herbs can help relieve pain, calm and improve the mood, and improve digestive health. One area that isn't as well explored is the benefits that herbs can provide for sexual health, not only in terms of general sexual health and fertility, but also in the treatment of specific sexually transmitted infections.
There are many herbs and natural treatments that have general immune system boosting effects, and some that have specific effects on bacteria and viruses that cause sexually transmitted infections. Many herbs have been scientifically tested for their antiviral and antibacterial activity, with results that show some have activity against the organisms that cause HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and genital warts.
Even if prescription medications are needed, natural remedies can still provide a benefit, in the form of preparations that support immune system function and digestive health. Supplementing the diet with garlic, vitamin C, and zinc, can all help boost immune system function, helping the body's infection-fighting cells while the antibiotics do their job. Herbs that stimulate the immune system include astragalus, red clover, and suma, while hops, goldenseal, and echinacea can help provide relief from pain and internal symptoms of sexually-transmitted infections. Echinacea is particularly effective for chlamydia infections, and can enhance the ability of antibiotics to clear all traces of chlamydia-causing bacteria from the body.
Prebiotics and probiotics, such as the live¬ acidophilus¬ cultures found in some brands of yogurt, provide additional benefit because antibiotics often kill off helpful bacteria present in the digestive tract, which can trigger digestive problems like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Foods and supplements containing these live bacteria species help repopulate the gut and return the digestive system to normal function. An additional benefit for women is that this may also help prevent the development of vaginal yeast infections, which can occur after antibiotic use.
BastyrCenterfor Natural Health. "Herbal Help for a Common STD."
Kavita Vermani and Sanjay Garg (2002). "Herbal medicines for sexually-transmitted diseases and AIDS." Accessed June 25, 2014. In Journal of Ethnopharmacology 80 49-66.
Natural Herbs Guide. "Sexually Transmitted Disease." Accessed June 25, 2014. Supporting immune health with herbal treatments.
Noah Scheinfeld (2013). "Update on the treatment of genital warts." Accessed June 25, 2014. Dermatology Online 19(6).
STD Testing. "STD Risk Factors." Accessed June 25, 2014. Preventing sexually-transmitted infection.
The Edge. "Herbal Remedies for three 'Collegiate' STDs/STIs." Accessed June 25, 2014. Natural treatments for common STIs.