Aphrodisiacs, Fact or Erotic Fiction?

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Aphrodisiacs, Fact or Erotic Fiction?

By Renee Charles


The practice of using food to enhance one’s sex life is not new, but is there any truth to the mystique of the Aphrodisiac? Named for the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, the concept has been practiced for thousands of years, but I have to wonder, where’s the scientific backing? Before I struggle to swallow a bunch of oysters, I want to know … is it real, or just in my head? The answer…yes, it is real.

Defined as a food, drink, or drug that stimulates sexual desire or a thing that causes excitement, a true aphrodisiac could then be anything that helped you get in the mood. With such loose descriptions is it any wonder we have a hard time finding the real thing.

Traditionally speaking, the use of aphrodisiacs has been documented as far back as Cleopatra using opiates and perfumes to seduce her lovers. In ancient Greece Aphrodite was the goddess of love and sexuality. Her signature animal was a sparrow, and since these were extremely sexual birds (think rabbits with wings), their brains were prepared and eaten as aphrodisiacs. As I type this, I am shaking my head no, with my lips pressed together… tightly. Foods used to be classified as an aphrodisiac based on the following four things:


1) Foods that look like sex organs. (Self-explanatory.)

2) Spicy and Hot Foods (Results… breaking out in a sweat similar to that when engaged in sexual activity.)

3) Extremely rare foods (If it’s hard to get, it must be good for the sex life, right?)

4) Made of sex organs of animals known for their sexual energy (It’s not an accident Hugh Hefner chose a bunny as his iconic symbol.)

Scientifically speaking, although there are few conclusive studies on the, ahem… uplifting effects of food, there are some science based, modern truths to their usefulness. Our bodies are affected by so many things during a sexual experience including stimulation of the senses (sight, smell, touch, sound and taste), hormone levels, and yes, blood circulation all play key roles in the act of lovemaking. But, before you go and eat a bunch of sexy shaped fruit, let’s explore what works and why. 


Alcohol- (Duh…)

A little alcohol can put you in the mood by relaxing inhibitions, but overindulgence has an effect on ability, as Shakespeare put it in Macbeth “It increases the desire but it takes away the performance."


Once coveted for their similarity in shape to testicles, we now know their best claim to sexual fame would be their abundance of vitamin E, which assists the body in hormone production.


With their rich, smooth taste (and obviously phallic shape), it’s no wonder that the banana has long been considered an aphrodisiac food. More scientifically based, bananas are rich B vitamins also a necessary component for sex-hormone production. Not to mention they deliver potassium, a nutrient key to muscle strength. The stronger your muscles the more intense your orgasmic contractions will be. Excuse me while I go do some sit-ups.

Chilies (Spicy anything)

Spicy food makes you sweat, simulating the response of sexual activity, so people thought “Hey Sex”. But the truth behind that reaction is Capsaicin, a chemical found in fiery peppers that increases circulation to get blood pumping. As we all know, circulation and blood flow are key elements in sex for both men and women.


Ohhh, sweet Chocolate … a flavorful source of quick energy that has been known to elevate people’s moods. Why? Chocolate contains related stimulants – theobromine, caffeine phenylethylamine, all of which will enhance the mood and the chances for sexual encounters always increase when one is in a good mood.


Before modern medicine, ginger was used to help relieve menstrual cramping. Ginger root is still used today to soothe the stomach. As an aphrodisiac, ginger is thought to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus and intestines.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3’s keep sex-hormone production at its peak. (ie. Salmon, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds and Flaxseed)


The classic aphrodisiac, oysters get their reputation due to their resemblance to female genitals. Technically, they are high in protein and iron, again think strong muscles, and they are “brimming with zinc, a mineral that cranks up the production of testosterone, which has been linked to a higher sex drive”.


The juicy fruit contains the phytonutrient citrulline, which some studies have shown can help with erectile dysfunction.


There are dangers out there…Spanish fly works by irritating the genitals and then any kind of rubbing or itching can give relief, it is also known to damage the urinary systems. Because the key ingredient, Cantharidin, irritates genital membranes, it is believed to be arousing. “It's also deadly, causing kidney malfunction or gastrointestinal hemorrhages in people who ingest too much. A quick Internet search is all it takes to find some for sale.” Dr. Paola Sandroni, MD, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic says she was "horrified" to see how easy it is to buy.

Earlier generations associated foods with sexual stimulation due to their aesthetic attributes, which were considered both enticing and arousing. Now we know that sex starts in the brain and travels through the rest of the body, so they weren’t wrong.  But, in addition to that we can back our ancestors’ assumptions with scientific nutritional values. There seems to be good reason a romantic dinner might include a side of oysters ending with chocolate covered bananas.



Aphrodisiac Foods - List of Foods for Better Sex - Cosmopolitan



We welcome your comments. Have you heard of any other foods that claim aphrodisiac qualities? What are your favorite aphrodisaic foods? 

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