Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Humans have been looking for just about anything to stimulate sexual desire for as long as we’ve been in existence. Every culture in the world has come up with something they claim will instantly boost libido. Aphrodisiacs, from the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, are used as an agent to arouse sexual desire and have been found in recorded history for about 60,000 years. Even though the FDA has debunked the idea that a food or drug can activate a strong desire for sex, people still use and recommend many of these long standing aphrodisiacs. In some cases the aphrodisiac does stimulate the body in ways that can help libido, others are completely useless and some are downright deadly. Let’s take a look at the wide variety of ways we’ve tried to feel sexier through chemistry.
A Seductive Shape
Certain aphrodisiacs were thought to work simply because their shape looked like a penis or vulva. Ginseng, which translates to “person root” in Chinese because of its person like shape, was thought of as an aphrodisiac and a cure for sexual dysfunction in men. Tiger penis, deer penis, oysters, abalone, rhinoceros horn, caviar, asparagus, bananas and even roses all have been linked to sexual arousal because of their genitalia shape. Avocados were referred to as “testicle tree” by the Aztecs and thought to have an aphrodisiac effect. Figs, which once opened give the impression of a vulva, are one of the oldest aphrodisiacs. Strawberries are thought to look like nipples and were once given to newlyweds in the French countryside as a cold soup. While all of these aren’t proven to stimulate desire some of them may help to nudge them along. Oysters are high in zinc that is essential for testosterone production and have amino acids that may trigger sex hormones. Abalone has selenium, which is a mood enhancer, and magnesium that helps with the production of sex hormones. Asparagus and bananas also contain nutrients that help with hormone production. In India bananas are symbol of fertility and in Central America the sap of the red banana tree was used as an aphrodisiac drink.
Some aphrodisiacs are less about having a suggestive shape and more the physical reaction they provide. Arugula dates back to the first century A.D. as an aphrodisiac but it’s really just good as an antioxidant. Walnuts and pine nuts were thought to aid in sexual arousal. Nuts being high in zinc might actually help with this. Honey has a sensual texture and taste that can be arousing. It contains boron, which helps with testosterone and estrogen production. Conversely spicy foods like cayenne peppers, and anything containing capsaicin, are thought to be highly arousing. They’ve been known to speed up your metabolism and increase sweat production in a way that can feel like sexual stimulation. Pomegranate juice was cited in a recent study by The Male Clinic of California to help with erectile dysfunction. Ginger stimulates the circulator system increasing blood flow. Madame Du Barry was known to feed it to her lovers.
Celery is a surprising suggestion as an aphrodisiac but studies have found it contains androsterones, a hormone in men that stimulates women. Watermelon is also another surprising contender as it comes up as having a Viagra-like effect due to its high lycopene content. It also relaxes blood vessels and improves circulation. Not so surprising suggestion is chocolate, which contains phenylethylamine that releases endorphins like dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure. Like honey the sensual taste and texture help make it a very sexy food. Truffles, an aphrodisiac dating back to ancient Rome, are prized for their rareness and aphrodisial effect. Like celery it has androsterones for stimulation. The edible list is nearly endless with everything from mucuna pruiens, maca, birds nest soup, shark fin soup to animal testicles all claiming to help with virility, erectile function and stimulating arousal. Just about every thing was used to make people hot for each other.
The Scent of Passion
Scent can have a strong impact on us. It can be the scent of the raw, the cooked or the essential oil. Ancient Egyptians considered almonds an aphrodisiac. It’s also thought of as a symbol of fertility. The mere smell of almonds is supposed to be highly arousing to women, even Sampson is said to have attracted Delilah with an almond branch. Scents like vanilla and cinnamon are thought to stimulate the brain and body to feel sexy. Ylang Ylang, sandalwood, clove, and patchouli have all been used to induce arousal. In one study even the scent of pumpkin spice was a turn on. Rose oil has also been known all over the world for it’s sexy qualities. Flowers already have a suggestive shape with their vulva like interiors and phallic stamen. You may find many of these scents not only in candles or incense but also in massage oils, bubble bath, fragrances, and body paint. Some rose petals in the bath like Cleopatra, a sandalwood massage, or some vanilla candles can enhance a sexy mood.
The use of herbs for boosting libido or to help with sexual dysfunction is a wide and varied as the foods and oils we’ve just looked at. You can find whole apothecaries full of ground herbs and quite a few of them will be aphrodisiacs. The most infamous is Spanish Fly or Cantharides. Made from dried beetles, this herb irritates the urogenital tract when the body excretes the ingested herb in the urine. It causes a rush of blood to the genitals and the irritation causes itching and inflammation. This used to be misconstrued as being aroused. Spanish Fly is actually a poison and has some terrible side effects some of which are burning of the mouth and throat, urinary tract infection, permanent damage and scarring to the urethra and quite possibly death, although this is very rare. Yohimbe stimulates nerve centers that improve the capacity for an erection. Basically thought of as herbal Viagra, this also has some awful side effects. Most herbs give the impression of helping to get turned on along because they stimulate blood circulation and blood flow. Herbs like Muira Puama and Catuaba from Brazil, Horney Goat Weed and Ginseng from China, along with Ginko, Rosemary, and Basil all fall under this category.
In A Nutshell
While none of the aphrodisiacs I’ve talked about will be a magic pill for a quick turn on, you’ll find they work in other ways. A key to a healthy sex drive is eating right so almost any of the natural foods will give you nutrients like B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Lycopene. Those 30 oysters a day Cassanova was consuming gave him a major dose of zinc. For some of them it’s the interactive experience like the tempting taste of chocolate or the seductive scent of sandalwood that titillating. The luscious feeling of honey on your tongue or the delightful explosion of flavor when you bite into a strawberry are what make you feel frisky more than their perceived mythical powers. Combined with some sexy eye contact and spine tingling caresses with your partner will make a much more effective love potion.
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