What do ginseng, chocolate, oysters, coffee, alcohol, powdered rhinoceros tusk, a ground up Mediterranean beetle, and the bark of a certain West African tree have in common? They are just a few of the many items people have used through the ages to set off sexual fireworks. For almost as long, scientists have dismissed all these traditional aphrodisiacs as sexually worthless—and sometimes dangerous.
But old beliefs die hard when they promise to add extra zing to lovemaking. The rhinoceros has been hunted almost to extinction in part because its powdered horn reputedly boosts virility. (It doesn’t.) And Spanish fly, a drug made by pulverizing the Mediterranean Cantharis beetle, is no libido-booster, but it can be poisonous.
Until the 1980s, scientists insisted that nothing ingested, inhaled, or injected could possibly have the effect promised in that old rock song, “Love Potion #9,” whose narrator recalls that after downing the herbal brew, he “started kissing everything in sight.” The sad fact is that there are many more ways to kill sexual interest than enhance it.
Nonetheless, belief in aphrodisiacs runs deep. It’s embedded in the very terms we use to describe sexual attraction. Why do people fall head over heels for each other? Chemistry.
Recent research shows that those love-sick chemists of yore were on to something. Science has still not identified anything that charms reluctant objects of desire into ripping their clothes off. But a surprising number of herbs, drugs, and foods have physiological effects that just might make reluctant paramours more receptive to erotic invitations.
In addition, if we define “aphrodisiac” broadly to include anything that adds extra excitement to lovemaking, then the possibilities become as boundless as the erotic imagination.
- How Aphrodisiacs of Yore Gained Their Sexy Reputations
- How Viagra Has Focused New Attention on Traditional Aphrodisiacs
- 10 Herbal Aphrodisiacs That Have At Least Some Research Support
- 3 Foods That Might Have Some Aphrodisiac Action
- 3 Commercial Products That Use Some of These and Have Some Research Support as Libido-Boosters
- 2 Surprise Aphrodisiacs
- The Setting Is Crucial: Appeal to All Five Senses
- Aroused by Greater Intimacy: The Game “An Enchanted Evening”
- Beware of These 6 Sex Killers
- Will Testosterone Light Your Sexual Fire?
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