Have You Heard Of This Herb: Zallouh

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A few issues ago Mother Earth Living magazine printed the article “The Best Herbal Remedies You’ve Never Heard Of.” Even though some of you pointed out that you did know one or two of the listed herbs, everyone really seemed to enjoy the topic of largely unknown medicinal plants and the research behind them. With this in mind, I thought it might be fun to delve into the research behind more unusual herbs from across the globe every once in awhile. Today we will investigate zallouh, an herbal shrub grown on the Syrian-Lebanese border that may help boost libido.

Note: As research on this herb is minimal and ongoing, be sure to discuss taking it with your health-care provider before incorporating it into your health regimen.

Mount Hermon
{Zallouh is abundant on Mount Hermon, a gorgeous cluster of mountains that straddle the Syrian-Lebanese border. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.}

What is Zallouh?

A member of the parsley family, zallouh (Ferulis harmonis) is a small, wild shrub with thin leaves and tiny white or yellow flowers that grows between 6,000 to 10,000 feet tall on Mount Hermon, a gorgeous cluster of mountains that straddle the Syrian-Lebanese border. Zallouh is abundant in this region, but it is not safe to source zallouh on the Israeli side of Mount Hermon because of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, according to Chris Kilham, a researcher and author also known as the “Medicine Hunter.”

So what medicinal benefits can this Syrian herb provide? It has a long tradition of being used by men and women to increase sexual frequency and pleasure, treat sexual dysfunction, boost libido and treat erectile problems. The gnarled roots of this natural aphrodisiac actually contain a number of compounds including ferulic acid that dilate blood vessels and stimulate circulation.

The Lebanese Urological Society has sponsored a number of clinical trials for zallouh, but so far the only human clinical studies have been conducted on men—no study has yet to focus on women’s sexual needs or function, says Kilham. In the largest zallouh study (4,274 male participants, ages 18 to 87), 86 percent of participants who completed the study experienced improved erectile function. However, one 2001 study evaluated the safety and efficacy of zallouh in enhancing erectile function in male rats. Scientists determined that while the root can enhance erectile function, it becomes toxic if used over a long period of time.

Although zallouh is most commonly regarded as an aphrodisiac, it is much more than a “sex plant,” explains Pierre Malychef, a doctor and pharmacist in Beirut, Lebanon. The root also contains antioxidants and may slow down the aging process. “I have not seen any other plant that revitalizes people the way that zallouh does,” Malychef says.

How to Use Zallouh

Zallouh root is not currently standardized, but Kilham recommends taking 500 mg to 1,500 mg of the freeze-dried root concentrate daily for maximum efficacy. You can also prepare a tea from the freeze-dried root, or add a few drops of zallouh tonic to your favorite tea. 

Zallouh is not recommended for those with hypertension related to heart disease or diabetic neuropathy without the approval of a physician. It should also not be used during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.

Zallouh capsules by H&N Herbs, $16.


Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the associate editor at Mother Earth Living, where she manages the health section of the magazine.