Lost That Lovin' Feeling?

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Sexuality and reproduction are so vital in Ayurveda that an entire discipline, known as vajikarana, is dedicated to enhancing fertility and rejuvenating sexual and reproductive energy. Vajikarana therapy improves the function of the reproductive organs and vitalizes reproductive tissues--increasing semen count and strengthening sperm motility in men and making eggs more viable for conception in women. This process enhances not only the quality and longevity of one's individual life but also the health and vitality of his or her offspring.

The word vajikarana comes from the Sanskrit root word vaji, which is translated as "stallion." This suggests that the treatments confer a horse's vigor, particularly the animal's great capacity for sexual activity. The discipline believes that a vital body is a fertile body and that we should all strive to be as fertile as possible, whether or not we desire indivually to have children.

While there are some vajikarana herbs that function as aphrodisiacs, they also engender reproductive strength in order to increase the health of one's offspring, or subahupraja--children who are physically and mentally vital and have the fundamental qualities needed for a fulfilling life. Vajikarana also treats cases of infertility by nourishing the whole person as well as the reproductive tissues and sexual fluids (shukra dhatu).

Before vajikarana herbs are administered, a person's body must be purified. First, the diet is improved according to the person's dosha, then a more disciplined lifestyle--including the adoption of a calmer mind, positive outlook, and limited practice of celibacy--is implemented. Celibacy, or at least modest restraint, is believed to be essential for good health, particularly for men--who exhaust their reserves of life energy (ojas) through the constant loss of semen. Over time, excessively wasting semen is believed to result in poor health, loss of willpower and intellect, and (eventually) premature aging.

The vajikarana herbs are introduced after purification is complete; the more common ones include ashwagandha, epimedium, and shatavari. Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is considered sattvic (conferring greater consciousness and lightness). It generates ojas, helps produce semen, nourishes the reproductive system, acts as an aphrodisiac, and is recommended for sexual debility.

Epimedium, a nutritive herb and aphrodisiac, also has multiple benefits. It increases sexual potency and sexual fluids as well as boosts libido, treats impotence, and relieves fatigue. It is commonly referred to as "horny-goat weed" because goats eat the leaves prior to and during their mating season. Epimedium functions as an aphrodisiac by restoring low levels of both testosterone and thyroid hormone.

Shatavari is a member of the asparagus family; its name means "one who possesses a hundred husbands" in Sanskrit. Used exclusively by women, this herb nourishes shukra dhatu and increases fertility and the capacity for lovemaking. Shatavari has rejuvenative effects on the female reproductive system, and possesses a sattvic quality as well as enhances feelings of love and devotion. Shatavari also helps generate healthy reproductive fluids and blood and can help regulate a woman's menstrual cycle. It can be used during any time from puberty until menopause.

Keep in mind, though, that consuming any of these herbs is just one aspect of vajikarana therapy. To receive the full benefits, you should consult an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Contributing Editor James Bailey practices Ayurveda, Oriental medicine, herbal medicine, and Tantra Yoga from his home in Santa Monica, California.