Oh, yes we did lovebirds. It’s February, that month when we have full permission to swoon, go gaga for romance, and flush red with love’s anticipation. Whatever you call it—making sweet love, getting it on, or having sex—it’s all part of nature’s own prescription for optimal health and well-being.  And chances, most of us should be upping the dosage.

Get this: One study from Wilkes University found those who engage in the deed once or twice weekly bolstered their immune systems by increasing the  infection-fighting antibody immunoglobulin A. What’s more, women who have positive  memories of past sexual experiences add about four years to their lives, found another Duke University study. Permission granted: Get it on. But first, beef up your knowledge of potential natural aphrodisiacs said to kickstart the libido. Remember, never take any supplement without first consulting your doctor.

Maca Root

This mustard plant, grown in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is primarily available as a powder in the U.S., but can also be found as capsule or tablet nutritional supplements. A 2002 study in Andrologia in which men (ages 21 to 56) took 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg (divided into 500 mg doses) of maca or placebo daily found, at eight and 12 weeks, that the maca group reported a 40 percent jump in sexual desire compared to no change reported by the placebo group. More recently, a small study in the journal NS Neuroscience and Therapeutics involving 20 women experiencing sexual dysfunction as an SSRI antidepressant side effect found those given 3,000 mg of maca daily reported significantly reduced sexual dysfunction as well as a boost in sexual desire compared to those taking 1,500 who did not experience such changes.

Nutmeg

Recognized as a central nervous system stimulant, nutmeg was used as an aphrodisiac by the ancient Greeks. In a lab study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that animals fed nutmeg experienced a significant and sustained increase in sexual activity. No such study has been replicated in humans, though, which limits our understanding.

Ginseng, Saffron, Yohimbine

In terms of enhanced performance, eating ginseng, saffron, and yohimbine (a natural chemical found in West African yohimbe tree) was found in a 2011 study in the journal Food Research International, which reviewed hundreds of studies on commonly used aphrodisiacs, to improve sexual function, while eating muira puama, a flowering plant in Brazil, and maca, was found to enhance sexual desire. Chocolate, despite its amorous reputation, was not found by the researchers to be an aphrodisiac. Alcohol, such as in red wine, was found to enhance arousal but at the expense of impeding performance.

What other aphrodisiacs have You heard about?