Let’s, for a second, talk about something, that I find, can distract most people—sex. So what does Ayurveda have to say about it? Of the eight limbs of Ayurveda, vajikarana is one branch devoted to aphrodisiacs, virility and the health of one’s progeny. Ayurveda deals with sexual dysfunction and other aspects of reproduction, and offers practical solutions to sexual problems of men.In the second year of BAMS, a professor would often ask his students, “What is the best aphrodisiac?” Students would vie with each other to shout out answers—Swarna Bhasma, and Atmagupta. There is ashwagandha too that’s touted as an immunity booster, which is also used in Ayurveda to treat men with sexual dysfunctions such as poor quality of semen, premature ejaculation (PE) etc.
Getting back to the question of the best aphrodisiac, the answer given by Charaka was that the most important is ‘a woman’. I am a great fan of Ayurveda but my quarrel with the Acharyas is that they presented many subjects from a pure man’s point of view. And women’s issues, when dealt with, were excluded from the reproductive angle. Thus, Ayurveda talks about shukragatavata (premature ejaculation) and has described many formulations, both herbal and herbomineral drugs, to deal with the same.
Unani has many formulations to address PE and erectile dysfunction (ED). Since both these conditions could also be psychosomatic conditions, Ayurvedic formulations, which contain Ahipena (Papaver somniferum), is indicated. Thus, treatment of sexual dysfunction would consist of vrishya drugs—drugs considered aphrodisiacs, balya or those that increased general well-being, and medhya drugs, those that addressed the mind.
Since vitiation of vata, especially apana vayu, is one of the main factors of PE, vatahara drugs ie. drugs to reduce vata vitiation, is prescribed. Here vasti, one of the panchakarma procedures, could come in useful. The Charaka Samhita is divided into various sections, one of them dealing with the treatment of various diseases. In this section, the first chapter deals with rasayana or rejuvenation, and dwells at length on how this can be achieved by improving general immunity as we would say in English parlance.
So we are willy-nilly back to Covid because Charaka talked about rasayana or immunity building as far back as 2,000 years when dealing with the treatment of diseases. It is also the reason why present-day ayurvedists are so distressed that this knowledge is not being used widely in this national crisis. The second chapter deals with vajikarana or aphrodisiacs, and lists about 30 yogas or combinations which could act as aphrodisiacs, some practical today, some not. The vajikarana yogas are divided into those that increase the quantity and quality of sperm, those dealing with ejaculation of semen etc.
Some doable recipes include frying the Rohita (rohu) fish in ghee and combining it with goat soup and juice of pomegranate and amla. There is yet another recipe, which while a little more complicated, is doable. Fruits of Mucuna pruriens, urad dhal, dates, Asparagus racemosus, water chestnut and grapes should be boiled with milk and water, and then filtered. To this sugar and honey are added. This is given to the patient with honey. He is also given a sastika type of rice. This is said to increase procreation ability of even weak men.
There’s another recipe from Charaka but I am not sure how doable it is. It goes like this. The meat of a rooster is fried with the semen of a crocodile and given to a patient who has erectile dysfunction. Not very practical except we do have a crocodile bank in Chennai where their numbers are multiplying fast.
The writer is a retired Additional Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu. She can be reached at sheelarani.