Zestra

Zestra

Zestra

Common Names

  • Zestra

For Patients & Caregivers

Zestra may improve sexual function in normal women and in those suffering from female sexual disorders.

Zestra is a personal product for women that contains borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, angelica root extract, Coleus forskohlii extract, ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C), and dl-alpha tocopherol (vitamin E). It is being promoted to relieve symptoms of female sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction may include painful intercourse, loss of desire, and difficulty in achieving arousal or orgasm. Stress, changes in hormone, cancer treatment, drugs, or menopause are some of the factors that may cause sexual dysfunction. The manufacturer claims that use of Zestra results in increased clitoral and vaginal warmth, increased sexual arousal, and sexual pleasure. Scientists believe that the borage, evening primrose, angelica, and Coleus forskohlii may be responsible for Zestra’s activity. A recent small scale study showed that Zestra can improve sexual function in both normal women and in those suffering from female sexual arousal disorder.

Zestra has not been studied in cancer patients. Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or those trying to get pregnant should not use Zestra.

Female sexual dysfunction
Clinical studies show that Zestra can improve sexual function in women.

Sexual dysfunction could be a result of other complex underlying physical, biological, or psychological disorders. Patients should consult and be monitored by a physician when using this product.

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • You are trying to get pregnant.
  • You are sensitive to any of the components.
  • You have a vaginal infection or irritation.
  • Mild to moderate genital burning was reported following use of Zestra.
Back to top

For Healthcare Professionals

Zestra is a topical botanical formulation of borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, angelica root extract, Coleus forskohlii extract, ascorbyl palmitate, and dl-alpha tocopherol. It is being promoted to relieve symptoms associated with female sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction may involve painful intercourse, loss of libido, difficulty in maintaining arousal, or difficulty in achieving orgasm. It may be caused by factors such as stress, hormonal changes, cancer treatment involving surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, use of antidepressants, or menopause. Use of Zestra results in increased clitoral and vaginal warmth, heightened arousal, and increased sexual pleasure. The borage, primrose, angelica, and coleus extracts may contribute to Zestra’s activity by increasing blood flow and nerve conduction (2)(3)(4). Clinical studies show that Zestra benefits both normal women and those with sexual disorders (1)(6).

Zestra has not been studied in cancer patients. Adverse effects from use of Zestra include mild burning sensation locally. It is contraindicated in women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and in those trying to conceive.

  • Female sexual dysfunction

Studies show that borage and evening primrose oils are rich in gamma-linolenic acid that is metabolized to prostaglandin E1 in the skin (2). This process is known to increase blood flow and nerve conduction. Osthole, a compound present in Angelica root extract was found to increase the levels of cGMP and cAMP (3). The Coleus forskohlii extract contains forskolin, coleonol, and related diterpenes that are known to stimulate adenylate cyclase (4).

Sexual dysfunction could be a result of other complex underlying physical, biological, or psychological disorders. Patients should consult and be monitored by a physician when using this product.

  • Women trying to conceive and pregnant women
  • Women who are breastfeeding
  • Hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients
  • Vaginal irritation, atrophy, or infection
  • Mild to moderate genital burning following application of Zestra has been reported (1)(6).

  1. Ferguson DM, Steidle CP, Singh GS, Alexander JS, Weihmiller MK, Crosby MG. Randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind, crossover design trial of the efficacy and safety of Zestra for Women in women with and without female sexual arousal disorder. J Sex Marital Ther 2003; 29 Suppl 1:33-44.

  2. Teng CM, Lin CH, Ko FN, Wu TS, Huang TF. The relaxant action of osthole isolated from Angelica pubescens in guinea-pig trachea. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 1994; 349(2):202-208.

  3. Andersson KE, Stief CG. Neurotransmission and the contraction and relaxation of penile erectile tissues. World J Urol 1997; 15(1):14-20.

  4. Product website. http://www.zestra.com/. Accessed September 26, 2012.

Back to top
Back to top
Email your questions and comments to aboutherbs@mskcc.org.

Last Updated