It’s not uncommon to look for ways to boost your sex drive.

Although some pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra may help, many people prefer natural alternatives that are readily available, discreet, and likely to have fewer side effects.

Interestingly, research has shown that several foods and supplements may help boost your libido and treat erectile dysfunction.

Here are 7 foods and supplements that may act like Viagra to boost your libido.

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Tribulus terrestris is a small leafy plant whose roots and fruit are popular in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine (1).

It’s also widely available as a sports supplement and commonly marketed to boost testosterone levels and improve sex drive.

While human studies haven’t shown that it can raise testosterone levels, it appears to increase sex drive in both men and women.

In a 90-day study in women reporting low sexual pleasure, taking 750 mg of Tribulus terrestris daily increased sexual satisfaction in 88% of participants (2).

What’s more, a 2-month study in men revealed that taking 750–1,500 mg of Tribulus terrestris daily improved sexual desire in 79% of them (3).

However, studies in men with erectile dysfunction show mixed results.

One study found that taking 800 mg of this supplement daily for 30 days did not treat erectile dysfunction. Conversely, in another study, taking 1,500 mg daily for 90 days improved erections, as well as sexual desire (4, 5).

As such, more research is needed on Tribulus terrestris and erectile dysfunction.

summary

Tribulus terrestris may help raise libido in men and women. Yet, results regarding its ability to treat erectile dysfunction are inconsistent, so more research is needed.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable traditionally used to enhance fertility and sex drive. You can buy supplements in various forms, including powders, capsules, and liquid extracts.

A 12-week study noted that 42% of men who took 1,500–3,000 mg of maca daily experienced an increased sex drive (6).

Furthermore, in a review of 4 studies in 131 people, taking maca consistently for at least 6 weeks improved sexual desire. It also helped treat mild erectile dysfunction in men (7).

Additionally, some evidence suggests that maca may help combat the loss in libido that may occur as a side effect of certain antidepressant drugs (8).

Most studies found that taking 1.5–3.5 grams daily for at least 2–12 weeks was sufficient to boost libido (6, 7).

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Maca may help boost libido and improve erectile function in men with mild erectile dysfunction.

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Ginseng — and red ginseng in particular — may aid low libido and improve sexual function.

A 20-week study in 32 menopausal women found that taking 3 grams of red ginseng per day significantly improved sexual desire and function, compared with a placebo (9).

In addition, red ginseng may boost the production of nitric oxide, a compound that aids blood circulation and helps muscles in the penis relax. In fact, studies have revealed that this herb was at least twice as effective as a placebo at enhancing erectile function (10, 11, 12).

However, other studies have found no effect of red ginseng on libido or sexual function, and some experts question the strength of these studies (13, 14, 15).

Thus, more research is needed.

Red ginseng is generally well tolerated but may cause side effects, such as headaches and upset stomach. It may also interact with medications like blood thinners, so those who take them may want to consult a medical professional before use (10).

summary

Red ginseng may boost libido and enhance erectile function, though more research is needed.

Fenugreek is a popular herb in alternative medicine that may help enhance libido and improve sexual function.

It contains compounds that your body may use to produce sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone (16, 17).

A 6-week study in 30 men found that supplementing with 600 mg of fenugreek extract daily increased strength and improved sexual function (18).

Similarly, an 8-week study in 80 women with low libido determined that taking 600 mg of fenugreek daily significantly improved sexual arousal and desire, compared with the placebo group (19).

That said, very few human studies have examined fenugreek and libido, so more research is needed.

In addition, this herb interacts with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin. If you’re on a blood thinner, you should speak with your medical practitioner before taking fenugreek (20).

summary

Fenugreek may boost libido in both men and women by encouraging the production of sex hormones.

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Saffron is a delicious spice derived from the Crocus sativus flower.

Its many traditional uses range from reducing stress to acting as an aphrodisiac, especially for people on antidepressants.

A 4-week study in 38 women with a low libido on antidepressants found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily significantly improved several sexual issues, such as decreased arousal and lubrication, compared to a placebo (21).

Similarly, in a 4-week study in 36 men who struggled with desire and arousal related to antidepressant use, taking 30 mg of saffron daily significantly improved erectile function, compared with taking a placebo (22).

What’s more, a review of 5 studies in 173 people noted that saffron significantly improved various aspects of sexual pleasure, desire, and arousal in men and women (23).

However, in people who don’t have depression or are not taking antidepressants, results are mixed (24).

summary

Saffron may boost libido in people on antidepressants, but its effects are inconsistent in those not taking these drugs.

Gingko biloba is a popular herbal supplement in traditional Chinese medicine.

It may treat various issues, including sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction and low libido, as it can raise blood levels of nitric oxide, which aids blood flow by promoting the expansion of blood vessels (25, 26).

That said, studies in humans reveal mixed results.

One 4-week study in 63 people found that taking an average dose of 209 mg of gingko biloba daily helped treat antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction — low levels of desire, arousal, and/or pleasure — in 84% of participants (27).

However, several other studies have shown that gingko biloba had little to no impact on libido or other aspects of sexual dysfunction (28, 29, 30).

summary

Gingko biloba may treat various aspects of sexual dysfunction because it can raise levels of nitric oxide. However, studies are inconsistent.

L-citrulline is an amino acid naturally produced by your body.

Your body then converts it into L-arginine, which helps improve blood flow by producing nitric oxide to dilate your blood vessels. This, in turn, may treat erectile dysfunction (31).

For example, a small, monthlong study in 24 men with mild erectile dysfunction found that taking 1.5 grams of L-citrulline daily significantly improved symptoms in 50% of participants (32).

In another 30-day study in men, taking a daily combination of 800 mg of L-citrulline and 300 mg of trans-resveratrol improved erectile function and hardness, compared with the placebo treatment (33).

Trans-resveratrol, commonly known as resveratrol, is a plant compound that functions as an antioxidant and is linked to numerous health benefits.

L-citrulline is available as a dietary supplement in capsule or powder form but is naturally present in foods like watermelon, dark chocolate, and nuts.

summary

L-citrulline may aid men with erectile dysfunction because it can raise blood nitric oxide levels.

Several other foods and supplements are commonly promoted as libido-boosting. However, they don’t have as much supporting evidence.

Here are several foods that may boost your libido:

  • Oysters. Several animal studies indicate that oysters may boost your libido, but there is no human research in this area (34, 35).
  • Chocolate. Although chocolate is widely believed to boost libido, especially in women, little evidence supports this (36).
  • Nuts. Some evidence suggests that nuts, especially pistachios, may boost libido in men. However, more research is needed (37, 38).
  • Watermelon. This popular fruit is a good source of L-citrulline, which may help with erectile dysfunction. Yet, no human studies have examined watermelon intake and erectile dysfunction or libido.
  • Chasteberry. There’s some evidence that chasteberries can ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms in women, but there’s no evidence that it offers libido-boosting effects (39, 40).
  • Coffee. This popular beverage contains caffeine and polyphenols, which some studies link to a lower risk of erectile dysfunction. However, more human research is needed (41, 42, 43).
  • Horny goat weed. This herb contains compounds that may affect blood flow to the penis and has been linked to improved erectile function in animal studies. However, more human research is needed (44, 45, 46).
  • Alcohol. Although alcohol may help people get in the mood, it does not boost libido. In fact, a high intake has been linked to sexual dysfunction (47, 48, 49).
Summary

Many other foods and supplements may boost libido, but they’re supported by less scientific evidence.

If you’re looking to boost your sex drive, you’re not alone.

A few foods and supplements may even act as aphrodisiacs, including tribulus, maca, red ginseng, fenugreek, saffron, gingko biloba, and L-citrulline.

Due to limited human research, it’s unclear how these foods and supplements compare with pharmaceutical libido boosters like Viagra.

That said, most of these are well tolerated and widely available, making them easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

Keep in mind some of these libido-boosting foods and supplements may interact with certain drugs. If you take medication, you may want to consult a medical professional beforehand.