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The importance of preserving bodily functions becomes ever more salient as we get older. Two areas that can come under attack are the heart and libido, both of which are often linked. “In most cases, sexual problems are caused by the heart or circulatory condition itself. Or by worries and anxieties relating to it,” explains the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
It is little wonder that solutions for one can also have a positive impact on the other.
There is an encouraging body of evidence to support taking herbal supplements for the heart and libido.
Ginkgo biloba – a herbal supplement derived from leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree – has been shown to offer restorative benefits for both.
Take libido first. A small study reported that ginkgo biloba reduced the loss of libido that antidepressant use caused in around 84 percent of participants.
Both male and female participants said they experienced increased desire, excitement and ability to orgasm after consuming 60–240 mg of the supplement daily, although effects seemed stronger in female participants.
A more rigorous follow-up study found no improvements in a similar group of participants who took ginkgo biloba, however.
Researchers attribute Ginkgo biloba’s aphrodisiac effects to its ability to help relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.
In fact, it is this ability that also accounts for its link to heart health.
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One study in people with heart disease who supplemented with ginkgo revealed an immediate increase in blood flow to multiple parts of the body.
This was attributed to a 12 percent increase in levels of circulating nitric oxide – a compound responsible for dilating blood vessels.
Similarly, another study showed the same effect in older adults who were treated with ginkgo extract.
Additional research points to ginkgo’s protective effects on heart health, brain health and stroke prevention.
There are multiple potential explanations for this, one of which may be the anti-inflammatory compounds present in the plant, researchers suggest.
General tips to improve heart and sex health
Losing weight can help to boost both your heart health and libido.
Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise is the best way of maintaining a healthy weight.
“Having a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure,” explains the NHS.
According to the health body, regular exercise will make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower your cholesterol level, and also keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
What is the optimal exercise?
“Any aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming and dancing, makes your heart work harder and keeps it healthy,” says the NHS.
According to UK health guidelines, you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.
Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast.
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