9 Adaptogenic herbs for hormone balance

We all face physical, chemical, or emotional stress as a part of our daily lives. Though stress can be normal, too much stress can cause chaos in your body, leading to disease and hormone imbalance, affecting your sexual health.  

Adaptogens are plants that help our bodies resist the damage from stress [source].  Many turn to natural alternatives like adaptogenic herbs for hormone balance to avoid drug side effects and achieve better health and sexual function.   Read on to find out the nine adaptogenic herbs for hormone balance to improve your sexual health. 

1. Ashwagandha

What it is:

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera ) is an herb known to offer whole-body health benefits, enhance strength,  and promote youthfulness. It’s also one of the best adaptogens for stress. Its use dates back thousands of years as a traditional medicine in many cultures, including  Iranian and Indian. Early people found uses for the entire plant, from seeds to flowers [source][source].


How it may help with hormone balance:

In a 2018 review of 42 human and animal studies, ashwagandha extract was helpful to reproduction in both males and females. The herb helped better the sperm quality and fertility in male participants by reducing oxidative stress, a natural body response that can cause disease if it gets out of hand.


Ashwagandha also enhanced two hormones, luteinizing and follicular stimulating hormones. Both hormones are important to sexual health for healthy ovulation during a woman’s menstrual cycle and to help men produce testosterone for a healthy sex drive [source][source].

In a 2019 study,  43 men ages 40-70 took ashwagandha extract or a placebo for eight weeks. The group taking ashwagandha had higher levels of increased sex hormones testosterone and DHEA-S, both needed for optimal sex function in men, as low levels can lead to erectile dysfunction [source][source].

2. Schisandra

What it is:

Schisandra is a traditional Chinese medicinal berry used centuries ago for improving sexual stamina,  insomnia, fatigue, and stomach disorders [source][source]. Its name means “five flavors”  in Chinese for its salty, sour, sweet, spicy, and bitter taste profile [source].


How it may help with hormone balance:

Women experience reduced hormone levels during menopause that may cause symptoms that hinder a healthy libido [source]. Luckily, Schisandra has shown positive effects on menopausal symptoms in 18 women who received treatment with the herb every day for six weeks [source]. 

3. Maca

What it is:

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is an Andean plant root used to treat infertility, female hormone imbalance, and anemia [source]. It’s a cruciferous vegetable and belongs to the same family as cauliflower and broccoli.  Maca also has a reputation for boosting sexual drive, making it a highly sought-after product. 


How it may help with hormone balance:

A 2020 animal study found Maca enhanced sex hormone balance and positively influenced fertility [source]. A 2015 study of 45 women with medication-induced sexual dysfunction took 3000 milligrams of maca for three months and saw significant enhancements in libido and sexual function compared to placebo [source].

4. Muira puama

What it is:

Muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides) is a tree plant native to South America and used for its tree bark, leaves, and roots. Muira puama is infamous for its use in hair loss, tremors, paralysis, and digestive problems [source]. 


How it may help with hormone balance:

Muira puama is rich in sterols, naturally occurring organic parts of the plant. Sterols play a role in activating hormone receptors in the body so that sex hormones in men and women can function well in libido and performance. The tree plant is also known as “potency wood” and contains oils that can help with mental arousal and restore sex drive [source]. 

5. Panax ginseng

What it is: 

There are nine types of ginseng, and Panax ginseng is an Asian type of ginseng. In Greek, “Panax” means all-healing, and the herb has wide use in treating various diseases all across the globe [source].  It was coined “the king of the grass bouquet” 4000 years ago for its role in combatting weakness, replenishing energy, and supporting balance [source]. The active ingredients of Panax ginseng are called triterpenoid saponins, which are plant components that offer anticancer and anti-inflammatory benefits [source].


How it may help with hormone balance:

Panax ginseng stimulates testosterone production and enhances sexual response in women and men [source]. Estrogens help maintain the female reproductive system, and two studies found that Panax ginseng had estrogen-like effects in human and animal cells [source][source][source]. The herb has also been studied for relieving menopausal symptoms in women, though more research should be done  [source]. 

6. Damiana

What it is:

Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a plant and aphrodisiac that’s popular in Latin America. For centuries, Damiana was sought after for its use in stimulating sexual performance and sex drive [source].


How it may help with hormone balance:

Damiana may cross the blood-brain barrier, the gap between the blood vessels and the brain tissue, which allows sexual boosting benefits to the nervous system.

The herb also helps to maintain a healthy balance between androgens and estrogens. Androgens, like testosterone, affect both men and women and the ability to achieve healthy sexual function. In women, androgens may help with sexual desire when low arousal is present [source]. In men, estrogens help with sexual performance and libido [source]

7. Tribulus Terrestris

What it is: Tribulus Terrestris (TT) is a hairy plant shrub that’s been used for thousands of years in folk medicine for sexual function, diabetes, heart health, and inflammation. It goes by the nickname “goat head” in China, and it’s native to Mediterranean Europe [source]. TT has lots of active ingredients like antioxidants, amino acids, saponins, and flavonoids which help give it its therapeutic benefits.


How it may help with hormone balance:

Rats ate a combination of ashwagandha, TT, and Mucuna puriens for eight weeks in a 2016 study. The most effective herb for increasing testosterone levels in male rates was TT. TT also increased other sex hormones and may help men counteract erectile dysfunction [source].


8. Epimedium

What it is:

The Chinese medicinal herb is commonly known as “horny goat weed” in Western society, though its nickname is  “yin yang huo” in China.  Aging and fatigue are a few conditions that have been treated with Epimedium, though it’s known for enhancing sexual performance [source][source].


How it may help with hormone balance:

Epimedium is a known testosterone booster that has raised testosterone levels in animal studies and increased sex organ size in male rats [source][source]. Studies also show Epimedium restores testosterone and thyroid hormone levels to normal, reestablishing healthy libido [source].


The herb contains many active ingredients, like icariin, that allow it to benefit hormone and sexual health by stimulating nitric oxide in the penis to help get an erection [source]. Its other active components regulate hormone levels, boost immune function, and have anti-cancer and anti-depression benefits [source]. 

9. Saw Palmetto

What it is:

Saw Palmetto is an extract from the Serenoa repens dwarf tree berries, and the dwarf trees are grown in the United States. The extract dates back to Egypt in the 15th century and has use in treating hair loss and enlarged prostate [source]. Fatty acids, plant sterols, antioxidants, and vitamin E are the major components of Saw Palmetto.


How it may help with hormone balance:

 A 2021 animal study found four weeks' worth of  Saw Palmetto doses leads to increased testosterone, sperm counts, and muscle endurance by regulating hormones [source]. Saw Palmetto may be helpful in men with low testosterone levels. 

Ready to try adaptogenic herbs for hormone balance?

Many couples look to sex toys and other sexual wellness products to achieve more pleasurable sex with their partners; what about adaptogenic herbs? 

 Adaptogenic herbs are natural sex enhancers that may help you and your partner keep things fiery in the bedroom by keeping your sex hormones in check.

We’ve specially formulated bido beverages to include all nine adaptogens, so you and your significant other can achieve better health, sex, and intimacy.  

Gaby McPherson MS, RDN, LDN

Gaby is a full-time freelance writer, specializing in evidence-based health, nutrition, and wellness articles, as well as creating engaging content for health brands. Her clients have been Healthline, Ovia Health, Happiest Baby, Once Upon a Farm, EatingWell, and more. She's very passionate about reproductive and family health. When she’s not writing, Gaby spends her free time dancing to the Encanto soundtrack with her beautiful preschooler.