Nourishing Shukra Part 2

Shukral herbs are those that are traditionally said to increase sperm count, according to the Ayurvedic texts. There are several herbs that have this karma. Shukral herbs can be combined together in a synergistic formula, or those herbs can be selected whose energetics fit the individual’s prakriti and vikriti as well as the prevailing seasonal and climatic conditions.



“Ashwagandha acts as a tonic and tissue vitalizer, bitter and astringent in taste, hot in potency and increases the quantity and quality of semen.”1

Ashwagandha is pre-eminent among shukral herbs. There is a great deal of misunderstanding regarding ashwagandha as some consider that it should not be used in ama conditions, believing it will increase ama. However, the gunas of ashwagandha are laghu (light) and snigdha (oily) and its karmas include dipan, pachan and krumighna (anti-parasitical.)2 Hence ashwagandha can be used in situations where lightening therapies are required as well as in rasayana formulas, depending upon the herbs selected to accompany it. Due to ushna virya (hot energy) ashwagandha should be used cautiously in pitta men. By creating a balanced yoga or formula, it may be possible to include ashwagandha, but during hot weather the heating quality of ashwagandha may be inappropriate for pittas under any circumstance. For shukral purposes, ghee is an ideal anupan for ashwagandha. As a shukral, Ashwagandha may be used in a formula, in medicated milk taken at bedtime, or as a medicated ghee.



“Gokshura is sweet in taste, cold in potency, strength giving and removes bladder turbidity. It is appetizer, aphrodisiac, tonic and lithotropic.”3

Gokshura has pride of place as an aphrodisiac in Ananga Ranga Sutra, a mediaeval sex manual. We now know that this is due to the steroidal saponins it contains.4

Due to its shita virya (cold energy), gokshura is suitable for pittas while also being an excellent herb for all vata imbalances. It is the only component of dashamula to have shita virya. As an aphrodisiac and shukral it can be used in a formula or as a decoction with honey. Gokshura is especially useful when there is a combination of low sperm count and STI (sexually transmitted infection) since it is a good herb for supporting a healthy reproductive system. Similarly, it is particularly helpful when there is both low sperm count and any urinary disorder, due to its effective support of the urinary system.



Kapikacchu is considered the best aphrodisiac, sweet and bitter in taste, nourishing…suppress increased vata, acts as a tonic, reduces aggravated kapha, pitta and rakta.”5 Here note that Pandey states that kapikacchu increases pitta (by ushna virya) and kapha (by sweet taste.)6

Kapikacchu finds honorable mention in the chiktsasthan of Sushrut in the chapter on virility. Wheat and atmagupta seeds (synonym of kapikacchu) are to be boiled in milk into a porridge and eaten with ghee, followed by warm milk.7 Kapikacchu is an excellent gluten free food. Kapikacchu seeds can be cooked with urad dal to make a nourishing and shukral soup.8 Kapikacchu boiled in milk and taken with mishri or rock candy can also be used as shukravardhana yoga or healthy sperm-supporting formula.9 Or kapikacchu and gokshura can be combined in a milk decoction.10 Alternatively, use kapikacchu in a synergistic formula tailored to prakriti, vikriti and season.



“Vidari is sweet in taste, demulcent, nourishing, and promotes breast milk and semen.”11

Vidari is an extremely useful herb, being a dosha pratyanika herb for vata that also pacifies pitta due to shita virya and sweet taste. Vidari is thus a good herb to synergize or substitute for ashwagandha for pitta prakriti or summer season. For shukral purposes, Vidari is given as a milk decoction with honey, ghee and mishri.12 Sushrut also suggests a more complex process of bhavana, by which powdered vidari is successively soaked in vidari juice, over several repetitions, and then eaten with ghee and honey.13



“Pippali is appetizer, aphrodisiac, sweet after digestion and a vitalizer.”14

Pippali has the unique character of anushnashita virya, neither hot nor cold, and is adaptable for use by all prakriti types. Combined in a shukral formula, it can assume the role of agni dipan ama pachan, ensuring better digestion, absorption and assimilation of the other herbs. Sushrut suggests that for shukravardhana pippali be combined with urad flour, rice flour, wheat flour and barley flour to make cakes fried in ghee. As we mentioned in last month’s article, urad dal, wheat and rice are all shukral. These cakes or pupalika are eaten with milk sweetened with mishri.15 More easily, pippali can be consumed as a milk decoction.



“Shatavari is heavy, cold in potency, bitter and sweet in taste, tissue vitalizer, brain tonic, appetizer, general tonic, demulcent…it promotes semen and breast milk.”16

Although we tend to think of shatavari as a female tonic, it is also among the foremost of shukral herbs. Similarly, we think of shatavari as a prime herb for pitta but it is also dosha pratyanika for vata. As a shukral, shatavari can be used in a synergistic formula, as a milk decoction, or in a medicated ghee. A man seeking to promote a healthy sperm count can also take shatavari kalpa. Roast an ounce of Shatavari with one or two tablespoons ghee in a cast iron pan until light brown and add two tablespoons of sucanat, rapadura or turbinado sugar, two pinches saffron and a pinch of cardamom.



Shilajit is a general rejuvenative and aphrodisiac which also supports a healthy sperm count and should be added to the daily regimen for men seeking to improve fertility. Shilajit has ushna virya and should be used with caution in pitta prakriti and vikriti.    


Please note: Articles appearing in the Banyan Vine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Banyan Botanicals. This information is intended to apprise qualified health practitioners of possible Ayurvedic approaches. It is not intended as medical advice.   



  1. Bhavprakash, guduchyadi varga
  2. Gyanendra Pandey, Dravyaguna Vijnana, Krishanadas Academy, Varanasi, 2002
  3. Bhavprakash, guduchyadi varga
  5. Bhavprakash, guduchyadi varga
  6. Gyanendra Pandey op cit.
  7. Sushrut, chi. xxvi 10-13.
  8. Sushrut, chi. xxvi 15
  9. Sushrut, chi. xxvi 16
  10. Sushrut, chi. xxvi 18
  11. Bhavprakash, guduchyadi varga
  12. Sushrut, chi. xxvi 19
  13. Sushrut, chi. xxvi 7.
  14. Bhavprakash, haritakyadi varga
  15. Sushrut, chi. xxvi 6.
  16. Bhavprakash, guduchyadi varga