Beating Libido Limbo

The best natural secrets for enhancing your sexuality
By Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, and Alex Steelsmith

If you experience diminished sexual energy at some time in your life, you’re not alone. Many women who are perfectly capable of sexual fulfillment find their potential held back by low sexual energy, or common symptoms that interfere with their ability to become fully aroused. Female baby boomers in particular report low sexual desire in numerous health surveys.

“Libido Limbo” is the term used to describe this condition in the new book Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine. If you’re in libido limbo, you probably wonder where all your sexual energy went. It’s important to know that practically any woman, at any age, can overcome libido limbo and fully regain her capacity for sexual excitement. Many effective, natural techniques can help recharge your libido by boosting your pelvic, hormonal, adrenal, and thyroid health. But before you embark on a full overhaul of your sexual health, you may want to try some simple strategies to enhance your sexuality. Here’s a sampler of secrets to get you started:

Add libido-supportive foods to your diet

Your overall health is closely linked to your body’s ability to create sexual energy. Some foods and beverages are particularly high in nutrients that can promote both your general health and your sexual health. Examples include pomegranates, cruciferous vegetables, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut oil, açaí juice, blueberry juice, and mangosteen juice.

Limit dietary options that promote libido limbo

These can have exactly the opposite effects as aphrodisiacs: if consumed too often, they may reduce your sexual health and vitality. Caffeine breaks down testosterone, which is important for both male and female libido. Trans-fats can negatively affect hormone production, and fatty foods can cause lethargy. Alcohol can be deleterious to your sex hormones and may reduce sexual performance and sensory awareness. Sugar increases the stress hormone cortisol, which lowers your capacity for arousal.

Consider natural herbal aphrodisiacs

You may not be familiar with all of their names, but many have been used since ancient times to enhance sexuality. Examples include epimedium, rehmannia, cordyceps, reishi, muira puama, catuaba, damiana, ginkgo biloba, Chinese ginseng, suma, and maca. The effects of each of these can vary for different people. (All of these aphrodisiacs, and many others, need to be used with appropriate guidance in order to be both effective and safe.)

Try foods and nutritional supplements that promote midlife libido

If you’re in midlife, low libido can be related to your ability to efficiently break down estrogen in your body. Certain foods and supplements, if consistently added to your diet, can help your body produce “friendly” estrogen, and reduce “unfriendly” estrogen, resulting in positive shifts in your libido. These include cruciferous vegetables, seaweed, calcium D-glucarate, liver lipotropic formula (a combination of nutrients and herbs), and a cruciferous vegetable extract known as DIM, or diindolylmethane.

Benefit from libido-supportive exercise

Exercise generally promotes healthy sexuality, and can also have beneficial effects on hormones that support your libido. You want to balance aerobic exercises with resistance exercises like weightlifting, and do each for a minimum of 20 minutes three times a week. You can also use the principle of yin and yang from Chinese medicine to create greater balance: gentle yin exercises such as swimming, walking, or slow ballroom dancing, should be balanced with more vigorous yang exercises such as running or weightlifting.

Take simple steps to clean your living space of hidden toxins

Believe it or not, this can have a huge effect on your capacity for sexual health. Toxic chemicals in your immediate environment can mean a big deficit for your libido: if your body is constantly required to spend extra energy dealing with chemicals it can’t efficiently process, your sexual energy naturally suffers. Comb every nook and cranny of your home and yard—go through all your cabinets, storage spaces, and drawers—and purge your environment of any cleaning items, personal care products, cookware, or lawn and garden supplies that contain or release toxic chemicals. Replace them all with natural, environmentally safe alternatives.

Clean out the inside of your body

Whether your libido is currently compromised or not, doing the right dietary cleanse can make a big difference in your sexual energy. Here’s a summary of a cleanse from designed to maximize your sexual health: for 21 days, eliminate all sugar and gluten from your diet. For grains, consume only quinoa, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, or tapioca. Boost your intake of vegetables—especially cruciferous ones—and have a raw salad every day. For protein, eat only beans, wild salmon, or organic poultry, and avoid eggs and dairy products. Consume a minimum of fruit, and drink a large glass of water with added lemon juice daily. Visit a sauna each week, and “dry brush” your body before you shower.

Support your libido with your lifestyle and relationship

Learn to manage stress: this supports your libido and helps you feel more relaxed and in tune with your sensuality. Create plenty of time with your partner, and keep good communication flowing smoothly between you. Making a priority of sharing intimate thoughts and feelings can be deeply bonding and promote intimacy. You need a climate of “sexual trust” in a relationship—a woman’s ability to achieve sexual pleasure is closely related to her brain’s capacity to release inhibition and let her guard down. For most women, this can happen only if a relationship feels completely safe, secure, and trustworthy.


Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LaC, and Alex Steelsmith cowrote Great Sex, Naturally and Natural Choices for Women’s Health. A leading spokesperson on the topic of natural medicine, Laurie has appeared on CNN’s HealthWatch, and numerous other television and radio programs. For more information, visit Alex has authored over 200 articles on health topics and is also a fine artist. For more information, visit