Guide to aphrodisiacs
Can aphrodisiacs really stimulate sexual desire?
Named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, aphrodisiacs are substances — usually food, drinks or scents — that supposedly enhance sexual desire and energy. But do aphrodisiacs really work? Here, we take a look at the facts and myths behind aphrodisiacs to decide whether they really do stimulate sexual desire.
Giving aphrodisiacs a try
Most people will be aware of or even have tried some form of aphrodisiac in an attempt to improve their sex life — and no, we’re not talking about Viagra here, which only affects your sexual ability rather than desire. There are lots of products — both natural and artificial — that supposedly enhance sexual desire; however, if you wish to give aphrodisiacs a try, then our advice is to use one of the natural aphrodisiacs which can often be found around the house, rather than forking out on products which may cost you a packet and fail to deliver.
Some common aphrodisiacs
Common aphrodisiacs include peaches, bananas, pine nuts, mussels, eels, horseradish, asparagus, cucumbers, and onions — although we’re not too sure your partner would be in the mood for much loving after a raw onion or two! For a little self-indulgence you could also throw into this list truffles, caviar, strawberries, oysters and chocolate — but not necessarily all at the same time!
Some people choose to quite literally spice things up with a little chilli, curry, or any other form of sweat-inducing spice, since they produce results much like sex would, including increasing your heart rate and causing us to perspire. Other potential aphrodisiacs include ginseng — which literally means ‘man root’ — and scents such as vanilla, patchouli or musk, which are believed to awaken and provoke sexual energy.
Why did people use aphrodisiacs originally?
Aphrodisiacs have been used for many centuries and there is much debate about their effectiveness. Yet if it was all nonsense, why do people still turn to them to give them an increase in sexual desire?
Some aphrodisiacs were chosen in the first place due to their shape and resemblance to male or female genitalia. For example, rhino horn has widely thought to have been a useful aphrodisiac and in some quarters this is where the word ‘horny’ is thought to have come from! The Chinese have also traditionally used other animal-based aphrodisiacs, which gained their reputation from the apparent virility or aggressiveness of the animal source — such as tiger penis or even turtle eggs. However, many of us would be so appalled at the thought of an endangered species such as a tiger or rhino being threatened just to enhance out sexual pleasure, that it would hardly put us in the mood for love.
The evidence that aphrodisiacs work
Aphrodisiacs are based more on cultural myths than any fact, but people still continue to experiment with them to pep up their sex lives. However, there is no scientific evidence which proves that aphrodisiacs can directly stimulate sexual desire.
On the other hand, the power of suggestion can work wonders — so, if you believe something is an aphrodisiac, then it may well have the desired effect. And of course, the brain can certainly be stimulated by food, scents and drinks to such a degree that it puts the body in a state where it is more ready or prepared for sexual activity — even though they won’t necessarily create desire.
One of the most commonly-held views is that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. There is some debate as to whether a chemical called phenylethylamine present in chocolate is an aphrodisiac, but this compound is thought to be quickly degraded by enzymes so that significant concentrations do not reach the brain. Also, other substances such as alcohol only really help in that they reduce inhibition.
So, do aphrodisiacs work?
Strictly speaking, no. None of the substances that are considered to be aphrodisiacs work the way they are said to, and they don’t directly affect your sexual organs or sexual desires to make you more aroused or desiring. However, the power of suggestion can be a powerful thing, and so using ‘aphrodisiac’ food, drinks or scents as part of your seduction technique can spice up things up in your relationship.
Some substances obviously have an immediate effect on our moods. For example, a small amount of alcohol relaxes you emotionally and physically and increases your confidence, as well as opening small blood vessels, making you feel flushed and warm. Caffeine and sugar will give you a quick boost, too, making you feel energetic and ready for action.
On the whole, however, what you eat and drink long-term will have a greater effect on your general health and well-being — and thereby possibly help to increase your sexual desire. However, you might want to draw the line at suggestions in the Kama Sutra which state that a ram’s or goat’s testicle boiled in sweetened milk could be the way to stimulate your sexual desire! Instead, sticking to a healthy diet should do the trick …