Spanish fly. Chinese aphrodisiacs. Herbal aphrodisiacs. Natural aphrodisiacs. Homemade aphrodisiacs. Aphrodisiac food.
Since the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, humans have been keen to partake of a variety of foods, drinks, herbs, and animal parts, to increase their sexual desire and performance. Do any of these love potions actually work? There has been much debate in recent times over the effectiveness of many of these products on the market at the moment. Coco Swan has waded through the promises, and the facts, to give you the answers.
An aphrodisiac is defined as “an agent which increases sexual desire”. The name comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sensuality. Aphrodite was said to consider sparrows sacred because of their loving natures and as a result they were often included in a variety of aphrodisiac brews.
Throughout time, many foods and drinks have had a reputation for making sex more pleasurable. Many wonder whether these results have been achieved from the placebo effect, whereby the participant expects a result, as opposed to there being any real effect. Every continent of the world has been involved in the production and consumption of aphrodisiacs. In ancient times people had to mainly rely on aphrodisiac plants, although animal parts were also used. Anise, carrot, basil, orchid bulbs, salvia, sage, rocket, fennel, turnips, pistachio nuts, the flesh of the skink lizard, and river snails were all thought to increase sexual performance. Interestingly, lettuce, dill, watercress, lentils, and water lilies were all avoided as they were considered to diminish sexual pleasure.
Aphrodisiac Supplements. Most of the aphrodisiacs found on the net or in health food stores, contain one or more of the following ingredients:
Arginine. Arginine is an amino acid found in eggs, nuts, meats, cheese and coconut milk. It increases blood flow to the genitals by forming nitric oxide in the body. It is said to enhance sexual desire in women when combined with other supplements.
Epimedium. Epimedium has supposedly been proven to increase sexual function of male animals. It acts as a sex hormone and may stimulate sexual desire in women who are deficient in sex hormones.
Fennel. This plant increases the libido of both male and female rates. Fennel contains compounds that mimic oestrogen. In doses greater than one teaspoon, it can be toxic.
Ginseng. Long touted as an aphrodisiac.
Rhino Horn. An illegal substance.
Spanish Fly. (Cantharides) The Spanish Fly is one of the most famous of aphrodisiacs. It is made by crushing a beetle. It has an unpleasant scent and a bitter flavour. It is sometimes given to farm animals to encourage them to mate. Cantharides causes inflammation of the genitals, painful urination, fever and a bloody discharge. It can cause permanent damage to the kidneys and genitalia, and can also cause convulsions and death. The difference between an effective dose and a dangerous dose is very slight. Cantharides are illegal in the US, except for the use of animal husbandry. The Spanish fly was also banned from the markets of Morocco in the 1990’s. Most products advertising Spanish fly in them now are just using a concoction of peppers.
Yohimbe. Yohimbe is both a herbal aphrodisiac and a prescription aphrodisiac. Yohimbe is used to treat erectile dysfunction in males. Yohimbe increases the dilation of blood vessels and blocks alpla-2 adrenergic receptors, both essential to achieve and maintain an erection. Yohimbe in its herbal form can be dangerous if taken in the wrong quantities.
Aphrodisiac Drugs. Here are medications that are used in prescription type medications to increase sexual desire and performance.
Testosterone. A decrease in sex drive occurs in persons with relatively low levels of testosterone (e.g.: post menopausal women). Libido has been clearly proven to be linked to sex hormone levels, including testosterone. Testosterone supplements will often increase libido. Natural testosterone production may be enhanced through the use of herbs such as tribulus terrestris or eurycoma longifolia. (More on these 2 little plants later.) Testosterone supplements are less useful in people who have normal testosterone levels because your body will react to the external testosterone supply by shutting down its own manufacture.
Bremelanotide. Formerly known as PT-141. Bremelanotide seems to be a true aphrodisiac. It is a new medication being used for the treatment of erectile difficulties in men and sexual dysfunction in women. Bremelanotide is the only known synthetic aphrodisiac …Bremelanotide is used as a nasal spray. Unlike Viagra, it does not act upon the vascular system, but directly increases sexual desire. This drug was originally developed as a sunless tanning agent, until 80% of the original male volunteers noted spontaneous erections and increased sexual arousal as unexpected side effects. Phase 3 of the clinical trials of this drug is scheduled for the first half of 2007.
PEA. Phenylethylamine is an active ingredient in chocolate.
Viagra and Levitra. These 2 drugs are not considered to be true aphrodisiacs because they do not have any effect on mood.
Yohimbine. Formerly known as Aphrodin. Yohimbine is the principal alkaloid of the bark of a West African tree. Some researchers state that there is no evidence of improved sex drive and that it is unproven for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Yohimbine has numerous side effects such as over stimulation, anxiety, insomnia, rapid heart rate, and increased blood pressure.
Aphrodisiac Herbs. These 4 plants have been used for their aphrodisiac properties in Asia, India and Malaysia for many many years.
Damiana. Damiana is a native shrub of Central and South America. The leaves are made into a tea, which has a similar odour to chamomile, and wad used by the native people for its reputed aphrodisiac effects. Coco did read somewhere that this little plant now has a cocktail named after it in Europe. The cocktail supposedly contains this little herb.
Eurycoma longifolia. This plant has testosterone enhancing properties and is a native of Malaysia and Indonesia. It was historically used as a libido enhancer and to treat various sexual dysfunctions. Malaysian Universities have performed many studies that confirm its effects on increasing sexual behaviour in animals. This herb is also known to increase muscle mass.
Maca. Maca is a native of the high Andes of Peru and Bolivia. It has been regarded as an aphrodisiac there for over 2000 years. Small scale clinical trials have shown that maca extracts can heighten libido and improve semen quality, however, it does not affect the sex hormone levels in humans.
Tribulus terrestris. This is a flowering weed native to Southern Europe, Africa, Southern Asia, and Australia. Common names include Goathead and Bindii. In Indian ayurvedan practice it is known as “gokshura” and has long been used as an aphrodisiac and tonic. In the 1970’sin Eastern Europe it began to be promoted as a testosterone booster for increasing sex drive and building muscle.
Aphrodisiac Foods. Possibly the safest way to increase your libido may be to consume these foodstuffs.
Absinthe. (The Green Fairy.) Absinthe was a popular aphrodisiac drink in the 19th Century, especially amongst the artistes of Europe. However, by 1915 absinthe had been banned in most parts of the world, including the US, due to its terrible publicity. The UK, Spain, Portugal and Mexico never prohibited the drink and in these countries the drink has seen a renaissance in popularity over recent times.
Aniseed. Sucking on the seeds is said to increase your desire. Aniseed has been used as an aphrodisiac since the Greeks and Romans.
Asparagus. For the most powerful aphrodisiac effect, one must supposedly eat it for 3 days straight.
Champagne. Commonly known as the “drink of love”, champagne is popular in many parts of the world as an aphrodisiac. Champagne will lower your inhibitions and gives your body a nice warm glow. Beware of too much of a good thing.
Chilli. The effects of the chemical capsaicin in chilli mimics the feelings of sexual arousal. A good serve of chilli will increase the heart rate, flush the skin and swell the lips.
Fennel. Fennel has been used as a libido enhancer since Egyptian times.
Honey. The fructose content of honey provides a slow and steady release of energy. Hindu tradition calls for grooms to consume honey on their wedding day. Honey is rich in boron which helps the body use and metabolize oestrogen.
Liquorice. Liquorice has been in use as an aphrodisiac since ancient China. Chewing on the liquorice root is said to increase love and lust. It is considered particularly stimulating for women. In one study, the smell of black liquorice increased the blood flow to the men’s penises by 13%.
Nutmeg. Nutmeg was prized by Chinese women as an aphrodisiac. However, too much nutmeg causes hallucinations.
Oysters. Oysters are rich in rare amino acids that trigger an increase in sex hormone levels. This may also be due to their high content of zinc.
Vanilla. Both the scent and flavour of vanilla is said to increase lust.
Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac. Chocolate is popularly thought of as an aphrodisiac, and if nothing else, as a feel good food with romantic connotations. Montezuma supposedly drank 50 goblets of chocolate per day to increase his sexual performances! The BBC reported a study that showed melting chocolate in your mouth produced an increase in heart rate and brain activity that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and after the activity ended, lasted four times as long. The consumption of chocolate has been linked with the release of serotonin in the brain which produces feelings of pleasure. Theobromine is a primary alkaloid found in cocoa and chocolate and is one of the reasons for the mood elevating effects of chocolate. Chocolate also contains tryprophan which is an essential amino acid. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin which is an important neurotransmitter involved in regulating moods. Lastly, chocolate contains phenethylamine, which is often described as the “love chemical”. Phenethylamine can cause endorphins to be released in the brain.
The above list of aphrodisiacs certainly seems to encompass everything from illegal to bizarre to downright dangerous to highly questionable to medically prescribed to innocent fun. Coco does not endorse illegal activities or anything remotely medically dangerous. If in doubt, consult your medical practitioner first. Perhaps they can fix you up with the nasal spray, which as we all observed is the only true synthetic aphrodisiac. For the more cautious amongst us the aphrodisiac foods certainly sounded like fun. With chocolate as an aphrodisiac I need look no further!
Have Fun, Coco Swan.