What is an aphrodisiac?
An aphrodisiac is a substance that can induce feelings of raised libido and can be a food, drug or smell. Whether there is any real foundation behind the power of aphrodisiacs is debatable, since autosuggestion may have a psychological effect on the body and therefore cause a raised libido. However, every little helps and the following are a sample of aphrodisiacs that you can easily find at your local grocers or natural health food store.
Examples of natural aphrodisiacs
Fruits and vegetables
Plant aphrodisiacs include vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. Some are considered aphrodisiacs because of their phallic shape such as the asparagus, artichoke, fig and peach. Like the fig, the pomegranate was often considered to symbolise fertility because of its numerous seeds.
The presence of vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables can have an effect on libido. Celery contains the male hormone androsterone and is thought to stimulate female libido. Carrots, fennel and onions are other vegetables that effect sex drive. Men who need a little help in the bedroom department could do worse than having a banana or two as they contain the enzyme bromelain which is thought to improve male libido.
Herbs, spices, nuts and roots
Gingko nuts improve blood circulation to the extremities of the body thus improving libido. Ginseng root is also thought to enhance a person’s sex drive by naturally stimulating the brain and raising energy levels. Slow release carbohydrates such as porridge oats may also increase sex drive.
Herbs and spices such as basil, cardamon, clove, garlic, ginger, pepper, asafetida and saw palmetto are all considered to be aphrodisiacs, too.
In many cases aphrodisiac qualities can be attributed to the fact that they have a medicinal effect upon the genito-urinary tract, which therefore eases any problems with the kidney, bladder or urinary tract. For example, Ephedra nevadensis which is a known remedy for kidney, bladder and urinary problems is also used as an aphrodisiac.
In some parts of the world kelp is considered to be an aphrodisiac as it is rich in many vitamins and minerals, primarily iodine, which is necessary for the proper function of the thyroid gland. Lack of iodine can result in excessive physical fatigue and a lowered sex drive.
Other types of aphrodisiacs have a direct effect upon the increase of sexual desire and prowess and two of the most researched types of herb are the Kava Kava root and Damiana leaves.
Kava Kava is obtained from the shrub Piper methysticum, which is native to the Polynesian Islands, and has been used for years in rituals and religious practices. After careful extraction and fermentation Kava Kava is thought to relax spinal activity, producing a euphoric state of relaxation but without impairing mental activity. This relaxing effect extends to the sexual organs. Damiana originates from South America and has been shown to contain phytoestrogens or plant oestrogens which affect female libido.