Life can get to you now and again, and we frequently turn out to be so caught up in everyday anxieties that the last thing on our minds is sex. Still, physical closeness is a vital and necessary part of a successful relationship. On the off chance that, amid the anxiety of everyday life, you let closeness with your partner take a back seat, then you could be disregarding an essential way in which to reconnect with each other.
Additionally, feeling sensual and sexy is part of the overall experience of being human, and contributes to feeling confident and attractive. It is normal to experience times when you feel down, but not feeling sexual or balanced for long stretches of time can have a negative effect on your state of mind. So how to give yourself a boost? One way is by using an aphrodisiac, this article will be looking at natural aphrodisiacs in particular.
What is an aphrodisiac?
For centuries, certain foods, plants, and supplements have been thought to have aphrodisiac properties. An aphrodisiac is a substance, such as a food or a drink, that increases sexual desire. How do aphrodisiacs accomplish this task? Sometimes we simply do not know. They may lower stress, increase blood flow or positively affect your attitude. What is important is that all of these effects can improve libido.
Why natural aphrodisiacs?
Any form of medication you may obtain from your doctor can have side effects. All drugs are poisons; what matters is the dose. Therefore, if you can, it is preferable to use natural aphrodisiacs in order to side-step these effects.
Here we list some of the different substances that are available, how they work, and to what extent.
The betel nut, kola nut, and guarana each contain a compound that stimulates the central nervous system (increased body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate) and are reported to increase sexual desire. The root ginseng in particular has been attributed to increasing sexual desire and improving erectile function.
Catuaba Bark Powder
This Amazonian plant is considered a stimulant of the central nervous system and has long been used in Brazilian herbal medicine because of its aphrodisiac properties. It can also help with poor memory and nervousness. It is said to help with erectile dysfunction and apparently will work better when combined with another herbal aphrodisiac. For some people, it seems to increase confidence and energy. It can be taken in tea or food and the effect begins after three weeks of regular use, others report an effect after 20 minutes. The effect can increase over time.
Korean Red Ginseng
Korean red ginseng is an herb that has been shown in studies to help increase libido. Researchers noticed that Korean red ginseng was more effective than placebo in improving sexual desire and helping to treat erectile dysfunction in participants of the study.
Of course the first thing that probably occurs to you when you think of an aphrodisiac is food, as this is the most common way people generally take them. Chocolate is, perhaps surprisingly, an aphrodisiac and contains a plethora of natural components that make you feel better by stimulating your responses, activating mood associated brain regions, and boosting your level of serotonin.
Some food contains nutrients required for reproduction. Oysters, the classic aphrodisiac people name when they are asked to think of one, are very high in zinc, a mineral required to make healthy sperm. Other seafood also contain omega-3 fats, which increase blood flow.
Some vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, asparagus) and fruits (pomegranate, fig, banana, peach), like herbs and spices, contain larger amounts of plant nutrients. Plant nutrients help improve blood flow and protect blood vessel walls.
A large study, which monitored 25,000 men for 10 years, found men who ingested the most fruit (particularly blueberries, strawberries, pears, apples, lemons and limes) had a 14% lower risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction over a longer period. The smallest risk was among men who ate blueberries and/or citrus fruit more than 3 times a week.
Researchers correlated this to higher intakes of the plant nutrients which give these fruits their deeper colour. Some of the most potent natural aphrodisiac foods are a mixture of ones that you will have heard of, and some which you may not.
Apple cider and honey
Apples are the oldest known fruit that have been cultivated by humans, and honey has always been cultivated for medicine and food by humans for longer than the records go back. Raw honey combined with unpasteurized, pure apple cider is a powerful medicine and has been long been used as a treatment for many illnesses. In fact, there remain some doctors who believe these two foods combined are so astonishingly advantageous to our health that together they can tackle almost every health problem that affects the human race. One fact that researchers know is that this powerful combination stimulates the sex hormone production and doubles the stamina of a man. Just combine one teaspoon of honey with one teaspoon of apple cider just prior to sex.
Ah oysters, the first food that comes to mind when someone is asked to name an aphrodisiac. In fact, a study in 2005 proved this indeed to be the case, oysters really are a genuine aphrodisiac. This came as a surprise to many scientists when it was announced, there had not really been any firm research conducted before and so it was nothing more than a suspicion or an old wives’ tale. Without going into all of the technical science stuff, essentially some of the naturally occurring chemicals in oysters set off a chain reaction of hormones that leads to an increase in the production of testosterone, the hormone that is the main driver of sexual desire in men. There is one caveat however; the oysters must be eaten raw. For some people this is their favourite way to eat them, for others there is nothing more disgusting. But the evidence is there now, it is a fact, they really do work. Perhaps it is time to grow and like them? They’re very healthy too, containing high levels of zinc.
For a time, the ancient Grecians prevented the consumption of the strawberry and all other red foodstuffs, which led people to believe that the enigmatic berries had great power. The strawberry was once known as a symbol of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Though they do not possess any magic ingredient, the phytochemicals and antioxidants in strawberries help to lower joint inflammation. Their beautiful colour, sweet flavour and shape make them the ideal treat for sharing with your partner at a romantic meal. If you happen upon a double strawberry, ensure you break it in half with someone special… an old legend makes the promise it will bring true love.
Beets have for thousands of years been thought to be an aphrodisiac in many a culture. In ancient Rome it was the belief that beets and their juices increased sexual desire. In Greek mythology Aphrodite consumed beets to enhance her appeal. In Pompeii, paintings of beets adorned the walls of the Lupanare brothel. This old-fashioned folklore actually has some base in reality. Beets are a natural source of betaine and tryptophan, which are both substances that help feelings of wellbeing. They also contain high concentrations of boron, a trace mineral that raises the sex hormone level in the bloodstream.
For hundreds of years, cultures all over the world have acclaimed the aphrodisiacal qualities of asparagus. The Greeks talked of it in the Kama Sutra and love poetry advised drinking it in a liquidised form. Rumour has it the French used to dine on three meals of asparagus the previous day to their wedding in the hope it would increase their libido for the wedding night. Asparagus is also packed with potassium, vitamin E, and calcium which all aid in cleaning the urinary tract and kidneys, as well as providing a boost to your energy levels. Asparagus contains aspartic acid, which helps to neutralise excess ammonia in the body, which can lead to sexual disinterest and fatigue.
Whilst coffee does not usually come to mind when we think of an aphrodisiac, the ability it has to give us an extra spring in our step cannot be denied. The smell of freshly brewed coffee has this effect, for example. In fact, the scent of coffee was discovered to be a major turn on for women in a study conducted by Mindlab International Laboratory in Sussex, UK. It is the caffeine in coffee that increases blood flow and boosts heart rate, while the alkaloids it contains help to increase stamina and maintain sexual performance. Additionally, it has an effect on brain chemistry – it stimulates the release of dopamine, the feel good chemical.
It is not difficult to understand why honey has for centuries been considered an aphrodisiac. The actual word “honeymoon” has its origins in the hope for a successful marriage. There are those who say honey’s romantic repute comes from an early custom in which the newlyweds drank mead, a fermented drink made with honey, until the first moon of their lives together. According to a historic French superstition a bee sting was allegedly akin to being given a hit of pure aphrodisiac. Honey also contains nitric oxide, which during arousal is released into the blood stream, and boron, which regulates hormone levels. It is also a symbol of procreation and fertility in some cultures.
Legend has it the forbidden fruit of the Bible wasn’t an apple; it was a pomegranate fruit. The term aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love who is credited with planting the first pomegranate tree in Greek mythology. As they have many seeds, the pomegranate is often connected with abundance and therefore fertility. The pomegranate does appear as a symbol of romanticism in literature and sonnets going back centuries. A study by Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University in 2011 discovered that a daily drink of pomegranate juice led to a decrease in cortisol levels, which can in turn increase testosterone levels in both women and men. An increased testosterone level leads to heightened mood and therefore an increase in sexual desire.
Greek mythology states that Zeus created the artichoke. After being let down by a beautiful young girl, he turned his object of affection into a difficult and thorny thistle. Soft on the inside but tough on the outside, the artichoke is well versed in playing hard to get, their history as aphrodisiacs has long been rumoured. When Henry II married Catherine de Medici, known for her insatiable appetite for both romance and food, she brought artichokes to France. A seventeenth century French sexologist and writer reported that Swedish women who felt neglected in the bedroom by their husbands, would feed them an artichoke so as to increase their stamina and desire. They are also packed with antioxidants and so they are good for your health in more ways than one.
Figs are packed with flavonoids, antioxidants, potassium and fibre. Whilst their numerous seeds represent fertility, their leaves have an association with modesty. Rumoured to be the favourite fruit of Cleopatra, the erotically shaped fig has been connected to sexuality in almost every world culture. They were believed to be a symbol of love in Ancient Greece, where the arrival of a new crop of figs elicited a ritual of copulation.
At the time Montezuma shared an avocado with Cortez and his other conquerors, the Aztecs enlightened them to the fact that their name, ahucatl, came from their capability to enflame sexual passion, as well as their physical appearance. The Aztecs had such a belief in the aphrodisiac influence of the ahucatl that they wouldn’t allow virgins to leave the house during the harvest. When Louis XIV needed to revive his aging libido, he used the exotic avocado to assist him, giving the fruit the nickname la bonne poire (the good pear). It seems he may have been ahead of his time, as avocados have high levels of vitamin E, which helps give skin a youthful appearance and boosts the immune system.
For many a woman, decadent and sweet chocolate is the ultimate treat. Chocolate has, throughout history, had many a role, most particularly as a natural aphrodisiac. The bean pods of the cacao plane, the chocolate source, are grown on Theobroma cacao trees, which translated is “food of the gods.” The Maya and Aztecs used the beans from inside the pods as a form of currency. The Mayan’s were known to swap a few cacao beans for a passionate night at the brothel, whilst Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, is rumoured to have consumed fifty cups of chocolate daily in order to please his numerous wives. Even the infamous Casanova mentions chocolate in his memoir, regularly discussing his routine of consuming many a cup of chocolate in order to maintain his stamina. Scientists have described the two components that make chocolate so potent – tryptophan and phenethylamine. Phenethylamine is a stimulating neurotransmitter that is released into the brain when we have feelings for someone, whilst tryptophan helps to release serotonin, the brain chemical related to sexual arousal and elevated mood.
The Ancient Egyptians used to use garlic as a natural aphrodisiac. It was also consumed by the Romans and the Chinese for similar purposes The Romans offered it up to Ceres, fertility goddess, and they also used to make love potions from coriander juice and pressed garlic. Not perhaps a drink that one would favour drinking today.
Which natural aphrodisiac should you choose?
As you can see there are so many options to choose from when considering natural aphrodisiacs. They can be sourced from plants, herbs, spices, animal products, food, drink. The options do seem endless. Of course, the obvious choice is to select something that you are actually going to enjoy eating or drinking. There is little point in trying to drink that coriander and garlic drink if garlic is one of the foodstuffs that you really cannot abide!
As well as taste, there is also trial and error. Try a few different ones. If you discover one works better for you than another, stick with that one. As natural aphrodisiacs have no side effects, or very mild ones depending on the substance, there is no risk associated with experimenting. Remember, these are natural alternatives to traditional medical interventions. Whereas medicine prescribed by your doctor may not be all that good for you, even if it achieves the desired effect, all medicines have side effects. This is precisely why a doctor needs to prescribe them, as they need to minimise the risk that inherently comes with taking a drug.
Whether your sexual performance and desire needs a pick up or not, there are always times when we feel like we need something to give us that extra bit of pizzazz. Natural aphrodisiacs have all of the benefits and none of the risks.