What is an aphrodisiac? An aphrodisiac is a food, herb, or drug that is supposed to enhance sexual arousal or desire. Some are natural and others are synthetic or man made. The word aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love from Greek mythology. Aphrodisiacs are as old as the human race itself and there is a lot of folklore about love potions. Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and pleasurable. But from a historical and scientific standpoint, the results may have been due to the belief that the substances would be effective (i.e., the placebo effect). There is not much research to prove any of them actually increases sexual desire or performance. Some aphrodisiacs gained their reputation from the shape of the food or object, for example oysters. The same factor explains the attribution of aphrodisiac to the phallic-looking horn of the rhinoceros. Other animal-based aphrodisiacs gain their reputation from the aggressiveness of the animal. To sum it all up, if you believe a substance will make you feel sexier and will increase your desire, it might just do that. But be careful when trying to use any aphrodisiacs, some can be very dangerous. If you think you might benefit from an aphrodisiac get a lot of good information before trying anything and be sure to take any and all medications and supplements under your doctor’s supervision.
Some examples (good and bad) of aphrodisiacs:
- A rhinoceros horn — The horns of a rhino are considered an aphrodisiac mainly because they looke like a penis. The use of it is illegal, but it has a reputation in Chinese medicine to cure other ailments as well as increasing sexual prowess.
- Testosterone – Libido is clearly linked to levels of sex hormones, especially testosterone. When a reduced sex drive occurs in people with low levels of testosterone, supplements will often increase libido. Unfortunately, there is not enough research in this area — yet. Scientists and doctors are still in the early phases of learning how to increase a male or females testosterone levels effectively.
- Yohimbine (and other traditional herbs) – Several traditional herbs have been studied for their aphrodisiac properties. The three leading contenders are yohimbe, tribulus and maca. Yohimbine’s main action is to increase genital bloodflow and both sexual sensitivity and excitation in some people. All three can be prepared over the counter and should be used with caution. However, some patients report a positive sexual effects from using theses remedies over time. Therefore, yohimbe and the like are being studied to see if there are medicinal properties that can be isolated and turned into a reliable treatment for sexual dysfunction. Until then remember: They are considered natural cures, but medical research has show side effects including increased heart rate, sweating, and death. Other plants and herbs that contain nitroglycerin such as cherry and plum stones, ziziphus, beet and ragweed were commonly used as aphrodisiacs or sexual stimulants in the past.
- Spanish fly — Is not a fly, and isn’t exactly from Spain. Spanish Fly is a ground-up blister beetle that comes from Europe. The beetle contains a juice called cantharidin. When cantharidin is ingested and then released from the body, it causes a burning and swelling sensation in the urinary tract. Over the years this feeling has been misunderstood as sexual stimulation. The problem is that cantharidin is toxic and can be lethal. The victims of overdose are usually women who, unknowingly, consume the powder in a drink. On the good side, most of the “so-called” Spanish Fly sold today is just pepper flakes or something to make you feel hot.
- Alcohol — Alcohol is not technically an aphrodisiac, but it does lower your inhibitions. Lower inhibitions will naturally cause someone who is uptight about have sex, be more willing to participate in activities they would shy away from without having downing a few drinks. However, alcohol and other drugs have been proven to be related to erectile dysfunction. Therefore, your desire may go up but the ability to perform will go down. Also keep in mind, a few drinks are fine, but constantly relying on alcohol to get in the mood could be a sign of a deeper problem.
- Chocolate — While chocolate is not technically an aphrodisiac either, it does contain two chemicals (phenylethylamine and serotonin) that are known to be important to the pleasure receptors in the brain. Therefore, chocolate is like sex because it makes similar hormones that make you feel good. So far no studies have shown that chocolate actually raises desire. But it does taste good so it’s probably not just a coincidence that they sell tons of Hershey’s kisses around Valentines Day.
- Oysters — Many foods (bananas, asparagus, carrots) are considered aphrodisiacs because they resemble a penis. Oysters, on the other hand, resemble a vagina. The Romans placed the oyster high on their list of aphrodisiacs. Something to note is that oysters are high in zinc, which is necessary for sperm production. Raw oysters are also high in acid that have been shown to increase testosterone levels in male rats. In theory, that should increase libido. But until more studies can be done, they are simply a nice appetizer.
- Viagra and other drugs — Viagra is not really an aphrodisiac. It doesn’t increase sexual desire, but it does increase sexual functioning. In order for the drug to work, you still need sexual stimulation. What Viagra does is increase blood flow to the penis and then block the blood from leaving. Thus, helping men maintain an erection. There are a few side effects, such as dry mouth, along with more serious symptoms for a small number of users, so be sure to take it under a doctor’s care. The reason we included this as an aphrodisiac is that often when men have a hard penis it helps make them feel sexy, which then helps them have the confidence to let them relax and actually feel sexually aroused.
– Sometimes sexual dysfunction in men and women is a result of depression, anxiety, fatigue, or another psychological disorder. Psychiatrists, counselors and sex therapists can help increase your libido using talk therapy. Therapists can teach you techniques to learn about sexual stimulation as well as help you communicate your likes and dislikes with your partner.
- Getting in shape — The “aphrodisiac” effect from exercising is like that from chocolate. It doesn’t simply do the trick but it does play on your brain a little. Exercising releases some of the same hormones that make you feel good. Just like sex and chocolate. It also works your muscles, which makes you feel good. People who exercise, eat healthy, and are in good shape, tend to have more self-confidence. Self-confidence is related to sexual desire because you have to feel good about yourself before you can have a desire to be intimate with someone else.
- Intimacy and respect – Sex doesn’t have to be centered on the act itself, or any function or dysfunction. There are a variety ways to please your partner sexually. All of the most meaningful sexual relationships begin with respect and true emotional intimacy. Feeling able to share anything with your partner, knowing that he or she will care for you and your needs is a sure fire turn-on.