By: Sylvia Riley
Copyright 2006 Sylvia Riley
What you eat can have a direct impact on your sex life, affecting your hormones, brain chemistry, energy and stress levels. Some foods have psychoactive properties, others arouse because they are psychologically suggestive, and some can actually increase blood flow to the genitals.
For enhanced sex, natural aphrodisiacs are well worth exploring, especially the aphrodisiac foods in this article which not only serve romantic and erotic purpose but are virtuously healthy. Many of the natural aphrodisiacs in this article are also superfoods due to their superior health-promoting properties. You'll find they are both female aphrodisiacs and aphrodisiacs for men. Natural aphrodisiacs are safe and fun to experiment with and can act as a catalyst for hotter sex in the bedroom, both due to their physiologicial and psychological effects.
The Aztecs called the avocado tree Ahuacuatl meaning testicle tree. The ancients likened the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree to male testicles. The Spanish spread news of its stimulating powers on return to Europe and Catholic priests forbade their parishioners to eat them. Avocados are a smooth, unctuous fruit with a sexy consistency. The avocado is also a supremely healthy superfood, very mineral dense, and contains the body’s master antioxidant glutathione, as well as host of healthy carotenoids, heart-friendly monounsaturated oil and superior amounts of fibre, potassium and B6.
Chillis can fire you up in more ways than one. They contain the chemical capsaicin that can induce the release of endorphins to create a temporary high. Capsaicin also speeds up the metabolism and increases circulation, responses that are similar to those experienced when having sex. It ignites our internal engine and stimulates our energy for passion. Eating large quantities of capsaicin may also work as an irritant to the genitals and urinary tract that can feel similar to sexual excitement.
Celery contains the male hormone androsterone that is said to stimulate sexual arousal in women. Androsterone is believed to be released after eating through perspiration and functions as a pheromone that turns women on, hence a female aphrodisiac. The Swedish author C.E. Hagdahl in his Cooking as Science and Art (1879) says that ‘Celery contributes to a stimulation of the digestion, but is also suspected to be somewhat sexually exciting or even straightforward arousing.’ The Romans also favoured the abilities of this vegetable, dedicating celery to Pluto the 'god of sex'.
Pure chocolate, the king of natural aphrodisiacs, contains a host of compounds including anandamide, the psyochoactive feel-good chemical, and PEA (phenylethylamine), the ‘love chemical’ which releases dopamine in the pleasure-centres of the brain and peaks during orgasm. PEA is said to help induce feelings of excitement, attraction, and euphoria. Cacao also contains tryptophan, a key component of the neurotransmitter serotonin known to promote a sense of wellbeing and relaxation, and ‘nature’s Viagra’ arginine, the amino acid that enhances arousal and sensation in men and women. Arginine is converted into nitric oxide in the body which increases blood flow and relaxes smooth muscle in the gentalia. No wonder Casonova was chocolate fanatic!
Fennel’s aphrodisiac traits have been upheld by research that has found it to increase the libido of both male and female rats. This is likely due to the hormone-like compounds it contains that mimic the female hormone estrogen. This estrogenic activity is why fennel has been used as a breast enlarger.
This sexy fruit has long been thought of as an arousing stimulant and an open fig is believed to emulate the female sex organs. Figs are steeped in history and are one of the oldest recorded fruits. They are mentioned in the bible (Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to cover their private parts), are reported to be Cleopatra’s favourite fruit and the ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility. Following on in some Southern European countries wedding guests would throw figs instead of rice at newly weds as a sign of fertility.
This hot, pungent herb is said to stir sexual desires and Roman priestesses of old claimed garlic could make ‘women fall in love and men powerful’. It is certainly an immensely healthy food with many disease-protective qualities such as lowering cholesterol, aiding circulation and fighting bacteria, fungi and viruses. The problem with garlic is its potent aroma - if your partner loves it great, if not, it’s a risky choice for an aphrodisiac.
Sweet sticky honey is a great source of boron, a trace mineral that helps the body use and metabolise estrogen, the female sex hormone. Studies have shown that this mineral may also enhance testosterone levels in the blood, the hormone responsible for promoting sex drive and orgasm in both men and women. In addition, honey contains B vitamins needed for testosterone as well as other nutrients, enzymes and phytochemicals.
9. Liquorice (licorice)
Licorice has been used in ancient China for its love and lust provoking properties. Research has revealed that the smell itself is particularly stimulating. In a study by Dr. Hirsch, the neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, black liquorice was found to increase blood flow to the penis by 13 per cent. In China it is also reported to be particularly stimulating to women.
Nutmeg has been lauded as an aphrodisiac across numerous cultures and highly prized by Chinese women. Research supports this use as it has been observed to increase mating behaviours in mice. Large quantities of nutmeg can be psychoactive and produce hallucinogenic effects so don’t go overboard.
Herbs that are also natural aphrodisiacs, some of which are quite powerful, can have side effects and require appropriate dosage instructions (always read the label) include Yohimbe Bark, Centrum Damiana (or just Damiana), Muira Puama, Pregnenolone (Mexican Yam), Maca (Lepidium meyenii), Horny Goat Weed and to a milder extent Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba .
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