They are said to inspire lust, excite the senses, enhance potency and replenish the vital spirit. They run the gamut from simple, everyday foods and herbs to inspired potions and elixirs. And for thousands of years, people have been using them to “get in the mood”.
The reason for seeking out aphrodisiacs is obvious – sexual drive and performance could not be any higher on the list of importance for millions of people. The methods by which they achieve this can be everything from reasonable, to odd, to downright weird. The efficacy of most aphrodisiacs, if not all, is based more on cultural and mythic notions rather than proven science and quantifiable results. But that hasn’t stopped countless people throughout history from trying anything and everything to enhance their sexual prowess and fulfill their carnal appetite.
The term aphrodisiac is derived from the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. It is said she had the power to inspire lust and drive people wild.
Aphrodite was closely associated with sparrows and the ancient Greeks would eat sparrow hearts, brains and other body parts thinking that it would provide them with sexual enhancement. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was one of the most famous aphrodisiac enthusiasts. Her sexual appetite was legendary and she allegedly used a host of aphrodisiacs, including perfumes and opiates, to entice her many lovers. The Romans were also prominent aphrodisiac users. One of their most celebrated physicians, Galen, was an expert on the subject of aphrodisiacs and claimed that warm and moist foods like cooked oysters, carrots and peas were excellent for kick-starting sexual desires.
In many parts of Europe during the 16th century, the Mandrake root was consumed as an aphrodisiac and to cure infertility. Its power was thought to stem from the fact that the root itself resembled a woman’s thighs. Europeans also believed the sweetness in other root vegetables like potatoes provided stimulating qualities. Numerous beverages have been used as aphrodisiacs. Alcohol is a well-known love potion that can definitely reduce inhibitions, however too much can ruin any chances for enjoying peak performance. Coffee is another known stimulant that is thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. Though it definitely stimulates the central nervous system, studies in modern times have concluded that it has no direct effect on sexual desire.
In some instances, the desire for sexual enhancement and the pursuit of aphrodisiacs can get a little crazy and even go too far.
It’s one thing if you’re downing a few plants or herbs to try and enhance your libido. It’s another thing entirely when you’re killing off entire species of animals or doing other environmental harm to achieve arousal.
From centuries ago to this day, in certain countries the horn of the rhinoceros is considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac. This belief is especially strong in the East, where rhinos are hunted down and killed specifically for the horn. There is absolutely no scientific proof that any properties the rhino horn possesses enhances sexual libido. Nonetheless, stories describing great feats of abnormal sexual prowess while utilizing the powers of the horn are rampant in places like China. The demand there is particularly high and over the last several years, poachers in Africa have made it their business to supply China with thousands of African black rhino horns. With a population of nearly 70,000 in the 1970’s, there now remain only a few thousand of the creatures. And the demand for aphrodisiacs has brought more than just the black rhino population to the brink of extinction.
Numerous Asian countries have a strong appetite for the aphrodisiac delicacy of shark fin soup. Though there is absolutely no proof that it can improve your sex life, the soup has become a symbol sexual potency and a favorite of the wealthy. Due to over-fishing of hammerhead and other shark varieties for such purposes, numerous shark species are now classified as endangered. Also in the East, the sexual potency of numerous products derived from birds has reached mythic proportions. Certain birds secrete a fluid from their beaks that the Chinese believe can be made into a sexual potency lotion. They also believe that bird’s nest soup has highly stimulative powers. The rampant collecting of bird’s nests throughout Asia has threatened some bird species with regional extinction.
Doubt is very high that any horns, nests or fins can improve sexual drive. Ultimately, it takes more than just so-called aphrodisiacs to maintain a balanced and healthy sexual appetite.
Today, enhancement of the libido is as hot of a topic as it has ever been in history. There are countless pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra and Cialis that essentially serve the same purpose as aphrodisiacs, as well as herbal concoctions that claim to have similar effects. The problem is that though they will try, no pharmaceutical company or even the FDA can guarantee the safety of such products, especially in the long term.
The real key to enjoying sexual potency, dieticians say, is to live clean and eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Furthermore, keeping the body in great shape with cardiovascular exercise, muscle maintenance and good flexibility can go a long way towards keeping the libido healthy. If we can think of our sexuality as a privilege that needs to be nurtured and cared for – and not just a birth-given right – we are much more likely to enjoy a lifetime of pleasures courtesy of our most primal senses.