Author: Sexual Diversity
Author Contact: Sexual Diversity (SexualDiversity.org)
Published: 19th Oct 2014 - Updated: 12th Sep 2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Sexuality Publications
Summary: Explains what aphrodisiacs are and lists some of the products and substances that you may not have heard of.
An aphrodisiac is an agent which increases sexual arousal. The name comes from the Greek goddess of Sensuality, Aphrodite. An aphrodisiac is a substance that increases sexual desire, sexual attraction, sexual pleasure, or sexual behavior. Substances range from various plants, spices, foods, and synthetic chemicals. Both males and females can benefit from aphrodisiacs, but they are more focused on males as their properties tend to increase testosterone levels rather than estrogen levels. This is partly due to the historical context of aphrodisiacs, which focused solely on males. Only recent attention has been paid to understanding how aphrodisiacs can aid female sexual function. In addition, cultural influence on appropriate sexual behavior from males and females also plays a part in the research gap.
Men and women have sought aphrodisiacs, agents that arouse or increase sexual response or desire, since the beginning of time. Aphrodisiacs may well be the one thing that crosses all barriers, race, culture, ethnicity, and age, making it unanimous: We all want to have better sex!
Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and pleasurable. However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the alleged results may have been mainly due to mere belief by their users that they would be effective (placebo effect).
Some psychoactive substances such as alcohol, cannabis, methaqualone, GHB, and MDMA can increase libido and sexual desire. However, these drugs are not aphrodisiacs in the strict definition, as they do not consistently produce aphrodisiac effects as their main action and often actually impair function.
Aphrodisiac reputation comes mostly from legend and the intimacy of eating it with another, pulling off the leaves to reach the center. Artichokes are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, critical to proper body function and blood flow.
This peppery plant has been documented as an aphrodisiac since the first century A.D. The minerals and antioxidants found in dark leafy greens like arugula have also been proven to block environmental contaminates that could negatively harm libido.
A Solanaceae or nightshade family plant is also known as Indian ginseng, Winter cherry, Ajagandha, Kanaje Hindi, and Samm Al Ferakh. All parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine. The fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk before drying to leach out undesirable constituents. The berries are used as a substitute for rennet to coagulate milk in cheese making. It has also been used for sexual vitality, as an aphrodisiac, and as an adaptogen.
Asparagus is very low in calories and is a calorie-negative food due to the amounts of cellulose contained. Asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol and is very low in sodium. Asparagus is a great source of potassium and fiber. Asparagus is also widely reputed to be an aphrodisiac may be due to its phallic shape.
It could be the sensuous pear shape or the fruit's rich flavor that gave avocado its aphrodisiac reputation as far back as the Aztecs. And while the jury is still out on how lustful avocados are, the fruit's high levels of vitamin E could help keep the spark alive because of its role in maintaining youthful vigor and energy level.
With their phallic shape, bananas look like feel-good food. Still, they also contain bromelain, an enzyme that triggers testosterone production, and the fruit's potassium and vitamin B elevate energy levels.
The typical spices in this brew-ginger, cloves, and cinnamon will get the blood flowing!
This invigorating spice has an exotic reputation and a bright red color, which could be why it's considered an aphrodisiac and a symbol of love. But there's scientific backing, too. Chili peppers stimulate endorphins (the brain's feel-good chemicals), speed up your heart rate, and make you sweat, which all mimic how you feel when aroused.
Romantics identify chocolate as an aphrodisiac. The reputed aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate are often associated with the simple sensual pleasure of its consumption. Chemicals found in chocolate, most notably phenethylamine, can act as mild sexual stimulants.
The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that ups the heart rate and makes the blood flow. A study suggested that coffee could put women in the mood for sex.
A shrub native to Central and South America. The leaves have traditionally been made into a tea used by native people of Central and South America for its reputed aphrodisiac effects. The leaves of damiana are sometimes smoked for relaxation, and its mild psychoactive properties, are described as similar to those of cannabis.
A plant native to Indonesia and Malaysia has become popular for its testosterone-enhancing properties. It is included in certain herbal supplements for bodybuilders and has been used as a libido enhancer and to treat various sexual dysfunctions.
Used by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the fig paradoxically symbolizes both sexuality (the ripe fruit with seeds representing fertility) and modesty (the fig leaf). They are full of potassium and are an antioxidant powerhouse.
Also known as the Maidenhair Tree. Ginkgo biloba was considered extinct but is now known to grow wild in two small areas in Zhejiang province in eastern China. Ginkgo nuts are used in congee, served at occasions such as weddings and the Chinese New Year (Buddha's delight). In Chinese culture, they are believed to have health benefits - some also consider them to have aphrodisiac qualities.
A wide variety of ginseng is generally available in many Chinese or Korean herbal medicine shops. The rhizome is taken orally as an adaptogen, aphrodisiac, stimulant, and in the treatment of type II diabetes, including sexual dysfunction in men.
Honey is made through pollination and a symbol of procreation. It also contains boron, which helps regulate estrogen and testosterone levels and provides a natural energy boost.
(Piper methysticum) is an ancient crop of the western Pacific. The word kava refers to both the plant and its beverage. Kava may be effective in the treatment of ovarian cancer and leukemia. Kava is used as a religious and visionary herb and an aphrodisiac.
An important traditional food and medicinal plant in its growing region, the high Andes of Peru. It is regarded as highly nutritious food, a medicine that enhances strength and endurance, and acts as an aphrodisiac.
A drink made by allowing rum, red wine, and honey to soak into a bottle together with tree bark and herbs. It is advertised as an aphrodisiac.
Often cited as an aphrodisiac. According to a research team, they are rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones. A joking theory states, "If you can get a woman to eat a raw oyster, you can get her to do anything!
Used for dilating the eye pupil and treating erectile dysfunction. It is claimed to be an aphrodisiac. It is also a weight loss supplement as it increases noradrenaline (norepinephrine) levels. Studies suggest that it is not a particularly effective treatment for impotence, and evidence of increased sex drive (libido) is anecdotal only.
A species of Eryngium in the plant family Apiaceae and native to most European coastlines. The protected dune plant grows to a height of 20 to 60cm; although widespread, it is considered endangered. In Elizabethan times in England, these plants were believed to a strong aphrodisiacs.
Packed with antioxidants, olives and their oil have been used for centuries for health. The Greeks believed they made men more virile as well. Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, critical for a healthy heart, blood flow, and hormone production.
High in energizing zinc, linked to a healthy sex drive, pine nuts are also considered aphrodisiacs because of the effort required to procure these oily gems from pine cones. Make a pesto with pine nuts, basil, and olive oil.
Filled with antioxidants that support blood flow. A study by The Male Clinic in California found that pomegranate juice positively affected erectile dysfunction.
In olden times was reputed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Herbalists insisted that the potato could cure everything from diarrhea to tuberculosis. People in Shakespeare's time viewed the potato as an aphrodisiac and labeled them "Apples of Love."
Pumpkin seeds are very high in magnesium, and according to Dr. Oz, magnesium helps raise testosterone levels by making sure more enters the bloodstream.
Spanish fly is the dried, crushed body of the green blister beetle known as Cantharis vesicatoria. Spanish fly, or cantharides, is often given to farm animals to incite them to mate. Cantharides are illegal in the United States, except for use in animal husbandry. Some internet or mail order suppliers of sex stimulants advertise such products as "Herbal Spanish fly," "Mexican Spanish Fly," or "Spanish Fly Potion." These products are cayenne pepper in capsules, sometimes blended with ginseng, kelp, ginger, or Gotu kola, powder. Gotu Research done in 1996 by the FDA shows that the drug has no sexual effects.
Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese do not use rhino horn as an aphrodisiac - a few tribes in the north of India are practically the only people who use rhino horn as an aphrodisiac. The Rhino horn is said to make men sexually unstoppable.
The tiger penis is revered as an aphrodisiac in China, Taiwan, and South Korea. The price of soup made from the supposed aphrodisiac, tiger penises, can reach $350 a bowl.
Eaten raw with salt and lime juice, they are said to be an aphrodisiac.
The Greeks and the Romans considered the rare Truffle an aphrodisiac. The musky scent stimulates and sensitizes the skin to the touch.
The seminal fluid of fish, mollusks, and certain other water-dwelling animals who reproduce by spraying milt onto roe (fish eggs).
The sea cucumber is an echinoderm of the class Holothuroidea, with an elongated body and leathery skin found on the sea floor worldwide. Sea cucumbers are an important food source in many parts of the world, known as trepang, and have renowned aphrodisiac properties.
According to Science Daily, watermelon may have a Viagra-like effect on the body, as it relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation.
To put a damper on aphrodisiacs, medical science has not substantiated claims that any particular food increases sexual desire or performance. However, a fairly new drug called Bremelanotide seems to be the first real aphrodisiac. Its effect stimulates sexual desire in men and women, and clinical trials are currently testing it for treating sexual arousal disorder and erectile dysfunction.
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• (APA): Sexual Diversity. (2014, October 19). List of Aphrodisiac Food and Drink. SexualDiversity.org. Retrieved September 23, 2023 from www.sexualdiversity.org/sexuality/1019.php
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