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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 22, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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What are Aphrodisiacs?

Everybody, at some point in their lives, may experience lower sexual desire or libido, so an extra boost is required to keep the passion going. For centuries people have made frequent use of aphrodisiacs as libido enhancers to achieve greater sexual health and functioning.

An aphrodisiac is a consumable substance such as food, drink, d r u g, scent or a device that can arouse or induce feelings of sexual desire. Aphrodisiacs got their name after Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty. Aphrodisiacs have a powerful impact on the mind as they are meant to spark off the release of chemicals in the brain which then stimulate genitals.
Most aphrodisiacs enhance aspects of the sensory experience such as sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing – which in turn increases sexual drive, improves performance and results in greater sexual satisfaction. Some foods such as oysters, chocolate, chili, or alcohol are known to have aphrodisiac characteristics. There are also a variety of plants and herbs which have been used for centuries in traditional medicine around the world in order to restore or enhance sexual pleasures.

Even certain surrounding settings may contribute to sexual arousal. For instance, a candlelight dinner for two accompanied by romantic music and a glass of champagne is described as an aphrodisiac and libido stimulator.
Other aphrodisiacs include gentle or forceful body massage. Full-body massages promote sexual desire by allowing full body contact, between two partners. Also, although it may seem like the last thing to stimulate the sexual senses, a foot massage actually enhances desires as well. The part of the brain that registers the sensations a foot massage gives, is the same part that arouses sexual organs.

Promotion of sexual desire can also be achieved by using natural bath oils. Before enjoying a massage, try taking a hot bath with bath oils preferably using jasmine scent, which can be very painkilling. Finally, an underestimated aphrodisiac is fear. Though it may seem a bit strange, even fear can spark sexual desire. While aphrodisiacs may be considered by some as folklore and mythology, many sexologists’ claims have been made about their great libido enhancing powers.

Certain prescription d r u g s also enhance libido. These d r u g s include V i a g r a, Arginine and Prostaglandins. Androgens (male hormones) can be prescribed for men with libido problems or poor sexual performance. Women with low hormone levels, particularly during menopause, can try hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to improve libido.

History and Origin of Aphrodisiacs

Plenty of herbs are natural aphrodisiacs and have been used for centuries for increasing libido naturally and for promoting sexual pleasure and arousal. These herbs are efficient, safe to use, and nutritive for the body.
For instance, Smilax ornata (Sarsaparilla) is used as a tonic for male sexual potency and virility, while Eleutherococcus senticosis (Siberian Ginseng) is an overall system toner which improves performance and stamina. Moreover, Sabal serrulata is a strengthening remedy which has a stimulatory effect on sexual functioning, as well as female wellbeing.

It is a commonplace that particular scents arouse us more than others do, but what might not be well known is that those scents aren’t necessarily coming from someone’s cologne or fragrance.

Ancient Uses of Aphrodisiacs

Back in 965 B.C., biblical references attribute the use of spices to sensuality. In the ancient biblical book Songs of Solomon, passages mention specific herbs and spices and herbs as aphrodisiacs. Well off ancient Egyptians, including the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra herself, developed saffron-blended bath oils and saffron, myrrh and oil mixtures to wear as fragrances.

Modern Uses of Aphrodisiacs

Herbs fascinating qualities are a precious gift from our Mother Nature. They increase vitality and are used today by herbalists for cases of impotence as well.

For example Sage is renowned as the medieval gentleman’s cure for all ailments, including low libido. Sage in cheese, sage in stuffing for turkeys and pork…put it everywhere and feel the difference. Infuse an ounce of dried leaves with an ounce of sugar, the juice of a lemon and a pinch of grated lemon rind in a quart of boiling water, strain after half an hour.

Thyme, beloved of writers, has mystical, creative energy. There are over a hundred species of this herb with silver-leafed thymes having the best flavor.

Side Effects of Aphrodisiacs

Adverse or side effects of aphrodisiacs include irregularities of the rhythm of the heart, suicidal tendencies, mental disorders and tremors. Hence, these medications must be taken under medical advice only. For example the d r u g Sildenafil citrate produces some side effects, which last for a few minutes to a few hours after taking the d r u g. These include dilation of blood vessels in other parts of the body, causing headaches and fainting. Other side effects such as facial flushing, upset stomach, blurred vision and sensitivity to light usually occur with high doses.

You may consider changing your eating and lifestyle habits before you experiment with aphrodisiacs. Regular exercise, proper diet and essential nutritional supplements may be all you need to revitalize you sex life.

Read also: Cold Sore

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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