What is an Aphrodisiac?
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Think of what it would take to light the fireworks of desire. Sometimes it just happens naturally because of the brain’s own chemistry which switches on when we fall in love. But sometimes, for various reasons, we need a little help along the way. Woven into the folklore of ancient cultures are various potions and herbal preparations believed to light the spark of erotic feelings. Read on to discover which of these magical substances are most likely to do the trick.
The ancient Greeks were a highly sophisticated and innovative race, and across the centuries, their literature has given us much food for thought. One of the most revered members of the Greek God team was Aphrodite, whose job title, Goddess of Love, gave her the edge in the mythological power game.
She was a leader in the art of sexual arousal, eroticism and sexual performance, not to mention the little matter of procreation. To this day, her name is synonymous with all things which enhance sexual pleasure, boost libido, and encourage those biological triggers which lead to increased sexual desire and fulfilment.
How do Aphrodisiacs Work?
The primary reason why certain substances have a positive effect upon the libido, as well as enhancing sex life, is that they increase blood flow throughout the body, including to the brain and the genital area. Aphrodisiac foods, herbs and supplements which have been found to support heightened sexual desire are rich in those vitamins and minerals needed to give this boost to the circulatory system. They also happen to be foods which support good health.
What are Aphrodisiacs?
Back through the ages, many beliefs have been handed down about certain foods, drinks, herbs and love potions which have aphrodisiac effects. The teachings of ancient civilisations, such as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, have played a vital role in our present-day knowledge of aphrodisiac substances.
Traditional Indian and Chinese medicine is responsible for some of the most widely recognised sexual stimulants which are still in great demand today, and many of these substances are derived from natural plant life. In both cultures, these preparations have stood the test of time.
Evidence-Based Natural Aphrodisiacs for Women
1. Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus is a plant which grows in dry climates and has a long history in the treatment of infertility and low libido. The plant is listed in the ancient Canon of Medicine, a five-volume herbal, which claims that Tribulus is capable of boosting sex drive in human beings. Trials have now found that it may indeed have these aphrodisiac qualities.
A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial by researchers at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences has concluded Tribulus Terrestris may safely and effectively improve desire in women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
The study centred on fertile rather than menopausal women and also concluded that the placebo effect results during the trial were outweighed by the results from participants taking the supplement.
Tribulus Terrestris is the main ingredient in our our Rose Gold supplement, a product designed especially for women in mind.
A Peruvian plant, related to cruciferous vegetables, maca is not strictly a root vegetable, but it is the root of the maca which is used for its libido enhancing properties. Several scientific studies have shown maca to be effective both as a natural aphrodisiac and in the treatment of loss of libido associated with antidepressant medication.
Native to the Amazon, Mexico and the West Indies, damiana has aphrodisiac properties and promotes improved sexual activity. It is also used to treat menopausal and premenstrual problems. Verified Source
Certain herbs have been used as sexual stimulants over many centuries, and their popularity has stood the test of time. These are some of the most widely used aphrodisiac herbs:
- Ashwagandha: extract of ashwagandha root is believed to increase both sexual desire and satisfaction in women. Further clinical evidence is needed before its effectiveness can be rated.
- Fenugreek: One of the most ancient medicinal plants on record, the health benefits of fenugreek were recorded by the Egyptians in 1500 BCE. It was also used in Chinese, Greek, Arabian and Indian cultures. Fenugreek has many positive uses to aid health, but it was popularly believed to increase fertility, and the seeds were often added to tonics as an aphrodisiac. Present-day research is finding that fenugreek does have various benefits associated with sexual health in women. It has also been proven to promote breast milk. The jury is still out when it comes to clinical proof of fenugreek’s validity as an aphrodisiac for women.
- Guarana: A native of the Amazon, guarana has long been heralded by folklore to stimulate libido, improve sexual function, as well as having a calming effect on the nervous system.
- Ginkgo Biloba: A favourite herb in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginkgo is reported to have positive effects when antidepressant medication is the cause of low libido. However, trial results are inconsistent, and side effects include increased bleeding and spontaneous haemorrhage. The conclusion by researchers is that Ginkgo should be used cautiously by patients taking aspirin or other anticoagulant medication.
- Horny Goat Weed (botanical name Epimedium): this plant is known as an estrogenic botanical. It is mainly used by men to treat erectile dysfunction but is also thought to boost sexual desire in women.
- Red Ginseng: A popular and widely used herb from China, ginseng has long been reputed to help with erectile dysfunction and is thought to help women with low libido. Ginseng contains saponins which relax blood vessels. This effect helps with heightened energy and lower blood pressure. Studies have confirmed that ginseng may improve sexual arousal. However, more research is needed into its aphrodisiac properties. Ginseng carries a health warning to those taking anticoagulant medication.
- Rosewood Oil: The spiced floral-scented oil of the rosewood tree from the Amazon is valued as a sexual enhancer and aphrodisiac for women.
Foods with Aphrodisiac Properties
These are everyday foods which have been scientifically verified to have aphrodisiac potential:
- Apples: contain phytoestrogens, antioxidants and polyphenols. All three compounds are positively linked to women’s sexual health
- Avocadoes: vitamin E is a recognised booster of energy levels which is reputed to help in the lovemaking stakes. Avocados are rich in vitamin E
- Bananas: high in vitamin B and potassium, known to be helpful in the production of sex hormones
- Garlic: This herb has blood-thinning properties, helping to boost blood flow to the sexual organs
- Honey: boron is a compound found in honey which aids in the metabolisation of estrogen
- Meats: beef, chicken and pork all contain certain amino acids such as carnitine, L-arginine and zinc. These amino acids give a boost to the circulatory system which can be effective in heightening sexual desire.
- Nuts: cashews and almonds are high in zinc, and to tap into the increased blood-flow potential of L-arginine. Also, try including walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pecan nuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds.
- Oysters: famously reputed to have aphrodisiac properties. In 2005 research findings were made public at a conference of the American Chemical Society, that oysters, clams and scallops, contain substances which raise estrogen and testosterone levels. Lobsters and crabs and all shellfish contain high amounts of zinc
- Red wine: contains a substance called quercetin which has been found to give a positive sexual response in women. Although, researchers found that more than two glasses daily did not produce the same positive effect. It would seem that quantity is crucial
- Watermelon: a 2008 study from the Texas A&M University has found that watermelon contains beta carotene and citrulline, which have a relaxing effect on blood vessels. This is very similar to the effect achieved by Viagra and results in blood vessels being enlarged to cope with a higher flow of blood. During the digestive process, enzyme activity changes citrulline in watermelon to arginine, which also gives a boost to the circulatory system.
All of these foods contain various substances which have been found to help blood flow. This is why they qualify as having aphrodisiac properties.
Aphrodisiacs Which Come with a Warning
The Aztecs and Mayan civilisations had their favourite natural aphrodisiac, namely cacao. They would grind the chocolate bean to make a paste which had mood-enhancing and aphrodisiac effects. This paste was then blended with water, vanilla, honey and spices such as chilli to make an addictive drink, which was mainly available to the rich and powerful among the Aztec communities.
As with alcohol, If a large quantity of this concentrated cacao was consumed, the good effect could easily turn into a negative in health terms. The reason for this is that chocolate contains the chemical theobromine which can cause heart failure, kidney damage and seizures. The chocolate known to us now is mixed with cocoa butter, milk and lots of sugar, but even in this less concentrated state, if we eat very high quantities, it can still bring on these symptoms.
Phenylethylamine is a chemical produced by the brain when we fall in love. It is also present in chocolate, although research shows that the effect of the substance in chocolate does not survive the digestive process so is unlikely to impact upon the brain and nervous system. Phenylethylamine is sometimes marketed as a supplement, but it mimics the effect of amphetamine and may cause a rapid heart rate, anxiety or agitation.
Choosing the right foods or herbal formula to help ignite passion can be a bit of a minefield, so we hope the information in this article has helped to clarify things. Whichever option you decide to try, it’s a good idea to start with a modest amount and built it up gradually. Remember to check with your GP that your choice will not react badly with other medication.
In addition to seeking an aphrodisiac, it’s vital to look after your general health, and there are various lifestyle changes you can make to help boost your libido. Make sure you get plenty of good quality sleep and keep active on a regular basis. Any form of exercise is great, but yoga or Pilates are both libido-enhancing. Exercise also helps with body image, which is great when it comes to losing those inhibitions.
A healthy diet, low in saturated fat and sugar, will help greatly. Saturated fat clogs arteries and inhibits blood flow, so has a dire effect on sexual function. And finally, a very important factor – don’t forget to nurture your relationship.
All of these ingredients make up the recipe for a happy love life, and we wish you every success.
Have your say
Have you ever experienced aphrodisiac benefits from any particular herb or food? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.