Source: Cambridge World History of Food
Aphrodisiacs were first sought out as a remedy for various sexual anxieties including fears of inadequate performance as well as a need to increase fertility. Procreation was an important moral and religious issue and aphrodisiacs were sought to insure both male and female potency.
Why Certain Foods?
In ancient times a distinction was made between a substance that increased fertility versus one that simply increased sex drive. One of the key issues in early times was nutrition. Food was not so readily available as it is today. Undernourishment creates a loss of libido as well as reduces fertility rates. Substances that "by nature" represent "seed or semen" such as bulbs, eggs, snails" were considered inherently to have sexual powers. Other types of foods were considered stimulating by their "physical resemblance to genitalia"
It's important to realize these food substances were identified (documented) by the likes of Pliny and Dioscordes (ancient Greeks) first century AD and later by Paul of Aegina from the seventh century. Later more credence was given to foods that "satisfied dietary gratification".
Other foods deemed to have these aphrodisiac qualities were derived from mythology. Aphrodite, the love goddess was said to consider "sparrows" sacred because of their "amorous nature" and for that reason were included in various aphrodisiac brews.
not always agreement upon what foods were actually aphrodisiacs or "anaphrodisiacs"
(decrease potency). But the ancient list included Anise, basil, carrot,
salvia, gladiolus root, orchid bulbs, pistachio nuts, rocket (arugula), sage,
sea fennel, turnips, skink flesh (a type of lizard) and river snails.
The ancients suggested you steer clear of dill, lentil, lettuce, watercress, rue, and water lily.
A very popular aphrodisiac with many culinary uses. It has been used as an aphrodisiac since the Greeks and the Romans, who believed aniseed had special powers. Sucking on the seeds is said to increases your desire.
Given it's phallic shape, asparagus is frequently enjoyed as an aphrodisiac food. Feed your lover boiled or steamed spears for a sensuous experience. The Vegetarian Society suggests "eating asparagus for three days for the most powerful affect".
A symbol of fertility throughout the ages. The aroma is thought to induce passion in a female. Try serving Marzipan (almond paste) in the shapes of fruits for a special after-dinner treat.
Arugula or "rocket" seed has been documented as an aphrodisiac since the first century A.D. This ingredient was added to grated orchid bulbs and parsnips and also combined with pine nuts and pistachios. Arugula greens are frequently used in salads and pasta.
Any Indian dried, powdered herb used as a sexual stimulant in Ayurvedic medicine. The herb has a very strong, garlicy flavor. Asafetida This has a foul smell, but in small amounts it can provide a sensual taste or smell. The same phenomenon applies to musk oil (from the musk ox) and castoreum (from the beaver), and perhaps to the secretions of the civet cat and the skunk: these agents can give a salty, animalistic, deeply erotic fragrant quality to a perfume when suitably diluted.
The Aztecs called the avocado tree "Ahuacuatl which translated means "testicle tree". The ancients thought the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree resembled the male's testicles. This is a delicious fruit with a sensuous texture. Serve in slices with a small amount of Balsamic vinegar and freshly ground pepper.
The banana flower has a marvelous phallic shape and is partially responsible for popularity of the banana as an aphrodisiac food. An Islamic myth tells the tale that after Adam and Eve succumbed to the "Apple" they started covering their "nudity" with banana leaves rather than fig. From a more practical standpoint bananas are rich in potassium and B vitamins, necessities for sex hormone production.
Is said to stimulate the sex drive and boost fertility. It is also said to produce a general sense of well being for body and mind.
Broccoli Rabe (And Other Mustard Greens)
The ground seeds of various plants in the brassica family were believed to increase virility. In the case of broccoli rabe its more likely a myth created to get people to eat this bitter vegetable.
The Aztecs referred to chocolate "nourishment of the Gods". Chocolate contains chemicals thought to effect neurotransmitters in the brain and a related substance to caffeine called theobromine. Chocolate contains more antioxidant (cancer preventing enzymes) than does red wine. The secret for passion is to combine the two. Try a glass of Cabernet with a bit of dark chocolate for a sensuous treat or let us temp you with our recipe for Chocolate Espresso Pots de creme.
Another good reason to eat carrots--believed to be a stimulant to the male. The phallus shaped carrot has been associated with stimulation since ancient times and was used by early Middle Eastern royalty to aid seduction. High vitamins and beta-carotene. Perhaps a justification for a piece of carrot cake?
Cloves and some other spices and herbs contain eugenol; its smell is fragrant and aromatic, and has long been considered as enhancing sexual feelings.
Caffeine is a well-know stimulant but remember, too much and it becomes a depressant. Serve small amounts of rich dark coffee in special little demitasse cups. Coffee stimulates both the body and the mind so partake of a little in preparation for an "all-nighter".
Coriander (Cilantro seed)
The book of The Arabian nights tells a tale of a merchant who had been childless for 40 years and but was cured by a concoction that included coriander. That book is over 1000 years old so the history of coriander as an aphrodisiac dates back far into history. Cilantro was also know to be used as an "appetite" stimulant.
In the 1930's fennel was found to be a source of natural plant estrogens. Use of fennel as an aphrodisiac dates back to the Egyptian times where it was used as "libido enhancement".
An open fig is thought to emulate the female sex organs and traditionally thought of as sexual stimulant. A man breaking open a fig and eating it in front of his lover is a powerful erotic act. Serve fresh Black Mission figs in a cool bowl of water as it is done in Italy and be sure to eat with your fingers!
The 'heat' in garlic is said to stir sexual desires. Make sure you and your partner share it together. Garlic has been used for centuries to cure everything from the common cold to heart ailments. This is a good time for moderation. Enjoy a pasta with a lightly garlicky sauce and it and lead up to something spicy in the bedroom later.
Ginger root raw, cooked or crystallized is a stimulant to the circulatory system. Perhaps a stir-fry with freshly grated ginger can stir something spicy up in the bedroom later.
Many medicines in Egyptian times were based on honey including cures for sterility and impotence. Medieval seducers plied their partners with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey. Lovers on their "Honeymoon" drank mead and it was thought to s "sweeten" the marriage.—it was given so that when the newly weds had intercource it would increase the stamina of both man and woman and allow for a more consistent rate of success for pregnancy---sustaining the culture
The Chinese have used licorice for medicinal purposes since ancient times. The essence of the Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) plan, glycrrhizin, is 50 time sweeter than sugar. Chewing on bits of licorice root is said to enhance love and lust. It is particularly stimulating to woman.
Believed to stimulate the sexual glands and increase desire. Prepare a tenderloin roast (filet mignon) for two with a mustard and peppercorn sauce.
Nutmeg was highly prized by Chinese women as an aphrodisiac. In quantity nutmeg can produce a hallucinogenic effect. A light sprinkling of the spice in a warm pumpkin soup can help spice up your evening. Mace and Nutmeg contain myristicin and similar compounds that are related to mescalin. In larger doses, nutmeg and mace can cause hallucinations, whereas in smaller amounts they are traditional aphrodisiacs.
Oysters were documented as a aphrodisiac food by the Romans in the second century A.D as mentioned in a satire by Juvenal. He described the wanton ways of women after ingesting wine and eating "giant oysters". An additional hypotheses is that the oyster resembles the "female" genitals. In reality oysters are a very nutritious and high in protein.
Pepper from India contains piperine: this pungent agent can stimulate sexual function, according to ancient beliefs.
Zinc is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency and pine nuts are rich in zinc. Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as Medieval times. Serve pine nut cookies with a dark espresso for a stimulating dessert.
Rich in vitamin C and and is used in the homeopathic treatment for impotence. Add a spear to a sweet Rum drink for a tasty prelude to an evening of passion.
Raspberries and Strawberries
Perfect foods for hand feeding your lover. "Both invite love and are described in erotic literature as fruit nipples" Both are high in vitamin C and make a sweet light dessert.
Saffron contains picrocrocin which is alleged to have the ability to cause erotic sensations
The Greeks and the Romans considered the rare Truffle to be an aphrodisiac. The musky scent is said to stimulate and sensitize the skin to touch.
The scent and flavor of vanilla is believed to increase lust. ( based on research, males in their 40’s are more prone to react to the scent of vanilla) According to the Australian Orchid Society, "Old Totonac lore has it that Xanat, the young daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess, loved a Totonac youth. Unable to marry him due to her divine nature, she transformed herself into a plant that would provide pleasure and happiness." Fill tall Champagne glasses to the rim and add a vanilla bean for a heady, bubbly treat.
A glass or two of wine can greatly enhance a romantic interlude. Wine relaxes and helps to stimulate our senses. Drinking wine can be an erotic experience. Let your eyes feast on the color of the liquid. Caress the glass, savor the taste on your lips. Do remember that excessive alcohol will make you too drowsy for the after-dinner romance. A moderate amount of wine has been said to "arouse" but much more than that amount with have the reverse affect.
¯¯Other popular herbs that have been reported to have aphrodisiacal properties include garlic, mint, rosemary, sage and thyme. All these allegedly erotically stimulating agents have long been incorporated into cooking, incenses, rubs and other romantic sources for stimulation of sexual feeling¯¯
Yohimbine increases Sexual Desire in males (primarily by increasing the production/release of Norepinephrine). research
Arginine enhances (male and female) Sexual Desire. research
L-Dopa increases Sexual Desire (by stimulating the production of Dopamine). research
Tyrosine (2,000 - 4,000 mg per day) increases Sexual Desire (by enhancing the function of Dopamine). research
Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) increases (female) Sexual Desire (by catalyzing the endogenous production of Nitric Oxide (NO)).
Supplemental Androstenedione (taken approximately 30 - 60 minutes prior to intended sexual activity) has been reported to increase Sexual Desire in some people (this effect is believed to occur from the conversion of Androstenedione to Testosterone). research
Supplemental Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) (25 - 50 mg per day) increases Sexual Desire (especially in elderly women) - this effect most likely occurs as a result of DHEA stimulating Testosterone production. DHEA may also increase Sexual Desire in men. research
Estradiol increases (female) Sexual Desire (by stimulating the production of Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) which in turn catalyzes the production of Nitric Oxide (NO)).
Persons who secrete insufficient quantities of Human Growth Hormone (hGH) experience a reduction in Sexual Desire and persons who restore their insufficient hGH secretion to normal by using supplemental, exogenous hGH report improvement in their Sexual Desire.
Progesterone increases Sexual Desire in females. research
Testosterone (which is manufactured in relatively large amounts by healthy males and in very small amounts by females) increases Sexual Desire in both males and females: research
Small (but biologically significant) quantities of Testosterone are manufactured by the Ovaries up until Menopause - this Ovary-manufactured Testosterone contributes to female Sexual Desire - after Menopause approximately 35% of females have reduced Sexual Desire due to the cessation of Testosterone production by the Ovaries (the other 65% manufacture enough Testosterone in their Adrenal Glands to sustain their Sexual Desire) - supplemental Testosterone (administered by a qualified practitioner implanting a Testosterone "pellet" under the skin every six months) often restores the libido of such females.
ØTestosterone exerts its effects on Sexual Desire by influencing (presently unidentified) Receptors in the Brain.
Even small surges in Blood “free” Testosterone levels can increase Sexual Desire.
Boron increases (female) Sexual Desire (by stimulating the production of Estradiol which increases female Sexual Desire by stimulating the production of Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) which catalyzes the endogenous production of Nitric Oxide).
Zinc deficiency can cause lowered Sexual Desire. research
ØOpioids indirectly activate Dopamine Receptors in the Ventral Tegmentum region of the Brain, resulting in increased Sexual Desire.
ØØØDecreased Sexual Desire in persons aged 40 and over is partly due to low Acetylcholine levels (and increased Acetylcholine levels in people aged 40 and over can result in increased Sexual Desire). research
Dopamine increases Sexual Desire (via its stimulatory effect on Dopamine D2 Receptors):
Stimulation of the Preoptic Nucleus of the Hypothalamus by Dopamine results in increased Sexual Desire (sexual arousal).
Luteinizing Hormone Releasing Hormone (LHRH) stimulates Sexual Desire in men and women.
Nitric Oxide is involved in the control of (male and female) Sexual Desire. research
Norepinephrine can increase Sexual Desire.
The Pheromones that are responsible for Sexual Desire are emitted from the body via Perspiration.
Bethanecol Chloride increases Sexual Desire (in men): Bethanecol Chloride improves Sexual Desire in men whose Sexual Desire is impaired as a result of excessive use of Pharmaceutical Antidepressants.
Bupropion increases Sexual Desire (only in women) (by inhibiting the reuptake Dopamine).
Testosterone Cypionate increases Sexual Desire in Male Hypogonadism patients.
Testosterone Undecanoate increases Sexual Desire in Male Hypogonadism patients. research
Females are subconsciously attracted to the odor of Androstadienone (which is secreted by males) and their Sexual Desire for the male who emits Androstadienone increases.
Androstenol (which is secreted by male Apocrine Sweat Glands) increases Sexual Desire in women who detect it (by subconscious perception of the odor via their Vomeronasal Organ).
Approximately 10% of males have enough Androsterone in their Perspiration to cause an increase in Sexual Desire in heterosexual females (Androsterone emanates a powerful "sexual call" to some females).
Some women’s vaginal fluids contain Copulins which emanate a powerful subconscious "sexual call" to males - males who subconsciously detect Copulins in female body odors to not know why they are attracted to a particular female, they just find the female "sexy" and want to know her better.
Bromocriptine increases Sexual Desire in males experiencing loss of Sexual Desire as a result of excessive Prolactin (hyperprolactinemia). research
Deprenyl increases (male and possibly female) Sexual Desire (this attribute arises from Deprenyl's chemical similarity to Phenylethylamine and from its ability to enhance the function of Dopamine). research
Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB) enhances female Sexual Desire by reducing sexual inhibitions.
Minaprine increases Sexual Desire in males and females.
Quinelorane has been developed specifically to increase Sexual Desire in males and females - Quinelorane very effectively increases Sexual Desire (by mimicking the actions of Dopamine within the Brain): However Quinelorane increases libido so effectively that it may never be released onto the world market due to the social implications of its extreme effectiveness.
Choline frequently causes an increase in Sexual Desire - especially in persons over the age of 40. This effect occurs as a result of Choline increasing Acetylcholine levels. research
Vitamin C increases Sexual Desire (by facilitating the production of Sexual Steroid Hormones).
These Foods/Herbs Increase Sexual Desire
Oats may improve Sexual Desire - this effect is claimed to occur via the release of Testosterone from its “bound” state (with Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)) to its “free” state (according to anecdotal reports).
American Ginseng increases Sexual Desire (in men). research
Ashwagandha increases Sexual Desire. research
Catuaba is claimed to increase Sexual Desire in males. research
Damiana improves Sexual Desire (in men with impairment in their Sexual Desire). research
Ginkgo biloba increases Sexual Desire in people with reduced Sexual Desire resulting from the use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). research
Gotu Kola reputedly increases Sexual Desire (according to folklore). research
Horny Goat Weed increases Sexual Desire. research
Korean Ginseng (1,800 mg per day) increases Sexual Desire (in males and especially in Male Impotence patients). research
Maca increases Sexual Desire. research
Marapuama (1,750 mg per day) improves Sexual Desire. research
Savory reputedly increases Sexual Desire (due to it containing precursors for the production of Sexual Steroid Hormones) (according to anecdotal reports).
Tribulus terrestris is speculated to improve Sexual Desire (in both males and females) due to its (speculated) ability to increase the body’s endogenous production of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which in turn stimulates endogenous Testosterone production. research
Yohimbe increases Sexual Desire in men (due to its Yohimbine content).
Velvet Beans increase Sexual Desire (due to the L-Dopa content of Velvet Beans). research