Herbs for (Self) Love and Getting into the Mood by Sarah Jane Fairless


In the mood for love or wondering why you can’t quite get there? 

For a lot of us “it’s complicated” is the truest statement surrounding our intimate behaviors! 

Consider the herbal aphrodisiac for support whether you are preparing to engage in partnered amorous activities, or even better, deepening your self love practice.

These plants aren’t a cupid’s arrow that will seduce or trick you into falling for someone, rather they help us attune our body, heart, and mind to allow for the sensory world to come to life.

The word aphrodisiac comes from the Greek word ἀφροδισιακόν, aphrodisiakon, from aphrodisios, which originates from the name for Aphrodite: the Greek goddess of love. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of foods, drinks, natural or chemical preparations and behaviors or rituals that are named aphrodisiacs. Every culture throughout time has sought after a remedy for deficiencies in the love and intimacy department. Many of these work on a placebo effect or simply because they help set the mood for sex. 

In clinical herbalism we look for specific herbal actions to classify a plant as a true aphrodisiac. These actions are based on how a plant is shifting the body to support dropping into a parasympathetic nervous system state, or “rest and digest”. They allow blood flow to move inward and towards the organs we use for reproductive purposes. Many of our herbal aphrodisiacs are warming, aromatic, and relaxing nervines that help us get out of our heads and into our bodies. They can be antidepressant and uplifting as well as hormone balancing. Some of my favorite examples that taste delicious and are well tolerated by most are damiana, cardamom, and nutmeg. 

It’s important to consider how other parts of our physiology are contributing to an imbalanced response to sex, so I will always look at stress levels, heart tonics, and whether there is dryness present to create a well rounded approach when selecting appropriate herbs for a particular person. Hawthorn, milky oats, rose petals, marshmallow root, and hibiscus can be helpful allies in these cases. 

Adaptogens are herbs that help modulate the body’s response to stress so may be included in your formulas for support. Some adaptogenic herbs that have aphrodisiac or libido enhancing qualities are ashwagandha, shatavari, or Dong Quai. Always do your research and/or work with a qualified practitioner to ensure these plants do not interact with medications and are well suited for your particular needs and constitution. 

Working with aphrodisiacs can and should be light hearted and fun too! Since many of these herbs are tasty and make us feel good they make perfect additions to food or drink. Check out my favorite mood enhancing herbal cordial recipe below. It’s great to sip on its own but also works well mixed with coffee, hot chocolate, or as a “kahlua” type substitute in mixed drinks. I also love it drizzled on ice cream or desserts! 

In the Mood for Love Cordial 


  • 4 parts Damiana 
  • 3 parts Cacao Nibs 
  • ½ part Cinnamon
  • ½ part Cardamom 
  • ½ part Rose petal 
  • 1 part Hawthorn berries 
  • ¼- ½ part Cayenne (if you like a kick!) 
  • Brandy, rum, vodka, tequila, or apple cider vinegar for a non alcoholic version ● Honey, agave syrup, or simple syrup to sweeten 
  • A jar with a lid, preferably glass 


  1. Measure out herbs into your jar. You will want to fill your jar ¼ to halfway with herbs. 2. Pour your choice of alcohol or vinegar over your herbs covering by at least 2 inches or simply fill your jar all the way to the top. 
  2. Shake your jar and place in a cool and dark location for 2-4 weeks, returning to shake it again occasionally. 
  3. After the infusing period press out your herbs using a fine meshed strainer or press cloth. 
  4. Rinse out your jar to remove any solids and return your pressed out liquid. 6. Add sweetener to taste. Start small and add more as you go to ensure that you don’t overdo it! 
  5. Serving size is 1-2 ounces per person. 


Does this info leave you wanting to learn more about herbal medicine? 

Consider joining me and an amazing roster of teachers for one of our herbal certification programs through the School of Traditional Healing Arts or take a class online with Scarlet Sage.

See you there!

Sarah Jane Fairless

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