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  Herbs and Natural Remedies for Sexual Health
by Emma Bamford
June 30,2014

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.

The Infection-fighting Properties of Herbal Treatments and Natural Remedies

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.

  • Herbs shown to have anti-HIV activity include yarrow, betel nut, snowdrop, liquorice, St. John's wort, bitter melon, and stinging nettle.
  • Topical preparations made with extracts of herbs such as lemon balm and liquorice root may prove to be particularly beneficial for herpes treatments, as many strains of the virus have developed a level of resistance to the most commonly prescribed antiviral drugs.
  • Human papillomavirus, which causes genital warts, can be treated with a green tea extract, but unfortunately the treatment does not match the effectiveness of prescription medications. Because some strains of the virus can cause cervical cancer it's better to go with a treatment of known efficacy.
  • Cranberry juice is well known for its ability to cure a bladder or urinary tract infection without the need for antibiotics, and regularly drinking the juice can prevent further infections.
  • Vaginitis, a general infection or inflammation that may signal the presence of a serious sexually transmitted infection, can be soothed and healed with extracts of garlic or tea tree oil, both of which have antiseptic properties.
Even when herbal preparations are used, antibiotics are still important for the treatment of sexually transmitted infections of bacterial origin, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. This goes for both men and women, but it is particularly important for women, who typically experience much more serious symptoms of severe disease than men, and have a higher risk of infertility when an infection is not treated. Using natural remedies should be considered an additional treatment, not a substitute one, and as always, it's important to consult your doctor about any natural or herbal remedies you want to use, as some may lead to unexpected side effects when used in combination with prescription medications.

Natural Support for Symptom Relief and Healing

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.


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