Diet and Exercise

What Is an Aphrodisiac? Everything You Need to Know

Aphrodisiacs were quite popular for their libido-boosting abilities in the past, but also today, in the 21st century.

Many people rely on aphrodisiacs for help they need in the bedroom.

Men and women alike often battle with the common sexual disorders and intimacy issues harming their sex life with their significant other. 

But what exactly do aphrodisiacs do for you? 

What effects do they have, and how can you use them to improve your sex life? 

These are the questions that we will answer in today’s article.

What is an aphrodisiac?

An aphrodisiac is either a food, herb, or drug that can increase sexual desire, improve sexual pleasure and boost sexual performance.

Aphrodisiacs have been used for centuries, way back into the past when they have been first discovered for their libido-boosting abilities. 

Nowadays, many different forms of aphrodisiacs as more and more manufacturers offer their supplements marketed for their libido-boosting effects.

However, many people still decide to rely on natural aphrodisiac options rather than using chemicals. And for many good reasons, that is.

Natural aphrodisiacs are all around us. We just need to know where to look.

And not to worry – we have a list that contains the best natural aphrodisiacs, which share with you at the end of this article.

Types of aphrodisiacs

When the term aphrodisiac comes to mind, we immediately think of oysters. The reality is that there are different types of aphrodisiacs such as:

  • Foods such as dark chocolate and oysters
  • Natural supplements containing ingredients such as horny goat weed, ginseng, yohimbine, and ambrein 
  • Herbs like sage and cloves
  • Psychoactive substances such as cannabis and alcohol, e.g., red wine
  • Synthetic substances such as ecstasy (MDMA), phenethylamines (methamphetamines and amphetamines), and synthetic testosterone

The natural sources of aphrodisiacs are the most beneficial. You should avoid using psychoactive and synthetic substances for this purpose. 

We can further divide aphrodisiacs based on how they are supposed to work. In this case, types of aphrodisiacs include:

Foods that resemble sexual organs

Certain fruits and vegetables believed to be stimulating.

Foods that evoke the senses (sight, smell, taste)

These compounds may increase sexual desire by arousing the senses.

Rare and exotic foods and spices

Often believed to have aphrodisiac properties.

Reproductive organs of specific animals

Eggs or animal testicles are sometimes considered effective for increasing sexual potency or performance. 

Spicy food and similar substances

Often considered aphrodisiacs that produce sexual arousal by increasing body temperature. A good example is hot chili peppers. 

Do they work?

Despite their popularity, studies about the effectiveness of aphrodisiacs are limited. But the evidence is not nonexistent though.

Various studies show that some plant compounds do have aphrodisiac properties. 

Aphrodisiacs give a boost to sexual behavior in different ways to achieve the effects we are looking for. 

Aphrodisiacs in men

Many aphrodisiacs influence the blood flow in the body to contribute to a long-lasting erection.

This aphrodisiac effect is significant for men with erectile dysfunction – the most common sexual dysfunction in men where a healthy blood flow means everything. 

Some aphrodisiacs influence testosterone production. As you may know, testosterone is responsible for many different effects in our body, including the male and female libido.

As we age, our testosterone production is declining, which reflects negatively on our libido.

With the use of aphrodisiacs, we can boost testosterone production, and with that, increase our libido as well.

With increased testosterone production, other effects such as improved sexual performance, increased energy levels, and a better mood will also follow. 

Some aphrodisiacs can improve our mood. They do so by increasing testosterone production and also by stimulating the production of dopamine and serotonin.

This can be effective for women during menopause as they are known to struggle with common mood changes that can reduce the quality of their sex life.

But this is also a valuable effect for men with difficulties affecting erectile function and other common sexual disorders that impact their mood as well.

Aphrodisiacs in women

In women, certain aphrodisiacs can help with reduced lubrication, which is often associated with menopause.

Vaginal dryness can have a serious impact on sex life during and after menopause. That’s why it can only worsen the existing depression, anxiety, and intimacy issues during periods such as these.

Some aphrodisiacs work to elevate libido and support vaginal lubrication to contribute to orgasms.

Uses

Most aphrodisiacs are natural. We can find them in nature and eat them easily, or they are products that contain natural formulas and extracts of certain foods.

Many of these aphrodisiacs have been used for centuries by cultures throughout the world.

People believed the aphrodisiacs had various properties and could do wonders for a person’s sex life. Even today, aphrodisiacs are considered effective for various uses.

Benefits of Aphrodisiacs

Libido (sexual desire)

The most common sexual problem today is low libido, especially among women.

In fact, around 70% of middle-aged women struggle with low libido. Men can also have problems with sexual desire, especially when their testosterone level is low.

Many dietary supplements are available today, claiming they can increase your libido. They work by supporting the production of testosterone, balancing out hormones, or through other mechanisms.

Supplements are insufficiently studied, but they contain extracts of certain plants and other types of aphrodisiac food. 

Sexual potency

Many people believe aphrodisiacs can amplify sexual potency and take performance to a whole new level.

Some ingredients are also dubbed effective for improving lubrication, endurance, and stamina. In other words, some aphrodisiacs could enhance sexual performance through several mechanisms.

Further research is necessary to uncover how they work and learn more about them.

Sexual pleasure

Some aphrodisiacs are known for their potential to improve sexual pleasure, and they make sex more enjoyable.

Aphrodisiac foods and plants are readily available in the form of supplements. Many manufacturers make bold claims and all sorts of promises, but you need to do a little research first.

Always check to see whether a manufacturer is reliable and read the ingredients. Make sure the product contains ingredients whose effectiveness is confirmed by science. 

Impacts of aphrodisiacs

The biggest impact of aphrodisiacs is their potential to improve our sex life. We are not always aware of the importance of healthy sex life and satisfactory performance.

That said, sexual performance has a lot to do with your confidence and physical and mental health.

Many people decide to use aphrodisiacs to achieve one of two effects, or both even: 

  • Managing low libido, a common sexual problem
  • Improved performance and pleasure 

Aphrodisiacs are largely natural compounds that make it easier for us to improve sexual desire.

They allow us to work on sexual health by correcting the root cause. Foods, and plants known for aphrodisiac properties, work to correct problems that affect our libido in the first place.

In other words, aphrodisiacs could restore the problems that led to decreased libido. You get positive results without having to take medications that would cause side effects.

When we’re discussing the impact of aphrodisiacs, it’s helpful to mention natural substances and compounds.

These are often obtained from plants and used in dietary supplements, or you can find them in health food stores and other similar places.

Keep in mind their accessibility is sometimes an issue. That explains why people turn to supplements.

Let’s see these compounds and their impacts:

Ambrein

Ambrein is an organic substance secreted from the digestive system of a sperm whale. It may increase testosterone levels and thereby improve libido.

Ginseng

This is a herbal supplement with an essential role in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginseng is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Supplementation with this root could also have aphrodisiac properties and amplify the sexual response.

Yohimbe

Yohimbe is obtained from the bark of trees found in Africa and some parts of India.

Supplementation with this sexual stimulant is dubbed effective for improving libido. The active ingredient, yohimbine, may improve erectile dysfunction as well.

Horny goat weed

Horny goat weed is an ancient herb that has been used to boost libido.

Icariin, a compound found in horny goat weed, has been found to work similar to Viagra, dilating the blood vessels to ensure a better blood flow, thus improving erectile dysfunction.

It can influence testosterone production, making sure that enough testosterone is being produced, due to which the libido is increasing.

Maca

Maca is incredibly nutritional, carrying quite a few much-needed nutrients to boost both male and female libido, sexual stamina, and energy levels. It may also be effective with infertility issues in men and women.

Ginkgo biloba

This is an ancient herb from traditional Chinese medicine, that has potential to treat several different health issues, including poor sexual function and depression.

Ginkgo biloba works as an aphrodisiac by boosting the blood flow and enhancing the ability to orgasm.

Food aphrodisiacs 

As mentioned earlier, we highly recommend relying on whatever our Mother Nature has to offer us.

In terms of today’s article, we recommend always choosing a natural aphrodisiac rather than opting for a drug that supposedly has the effects of an aphrodisiac.

Let’s share some of the most commonly used natural aphrodisiacs that you might as well already have hiding in your kitchen!

Oysters

Thanks to their high zinc content, oysters are one of the most beloved aphrodisiacs nowadays. The secret to their aphrodisiac property is that they contain more zinc than any other food.

This mineral helps with testosterone production in both men and women, thus boosting their libido. Oysters can help treat infertility issues in men and enhance their sexual performance. 

Fenugreek 

Fenugreek has many health benefits and one of them is to act as a natural aphrodisiac. It helps the production of male and female sex hormones, thus giving the libido a real boost.

Daily consummation of fenugreek has been reported causing an improvement in the libido and more common orgasms. 

Salmon

Salmon is the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids promote heart health which is important for both men and women.

However, men are the ones who need extra support when it comes to their heart regarding their reproductive health.

Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual issue that men are struggling with, and it is all about their poor blood flow that has led to it.

To ensure that erectile dysfunction does not happen to you too as well, make sure that your weekly diet includes more salmon. 

Chili peppers 

Chili peppers stimulate the production of endorphins and dopamine, which are the two chemicals responsible for our good mood and satisfying blood flow, thanks to the capsaicin in them.

By doing so, chili peppers are acting as potent aphrodisiacs that you should not miss out on. 

Watermelon

Watermelon is a great source of citrulline, an amino acid that, once introduced to the body, converts into arginine only to later convert into nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels so that we have proper blood flow. That way, it can help enhance our sexual desire.

This, as mentioned earlier, is especially beneficial for men who are struggling with erectile dysfunction and want their sexual vigor back.

Watermelon is also high in vitamin C, which is important for producing sex hormones and certain neurotransmitters that play a role in libido.

Other food aphrodisiacs

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Celery
  • Coffee
  • Dark chocolate
  • Figs
  • Honey 
  • Pomegranates
  • Pumpkin seeds 
  • Saffron
  • Strawberries
  • Pine nuts 

And remember, besides foods and herbal aphrodisiacs, essential oil (clary sage, lavender, sandalwood, etc.) can serve as a powerful aphrodisiac.

Tips and tricks

In the process of improving your libido, it’s natural you want to get the absolute maximum from aphrodisiacs you use.

These tips and tricks will help you get the best results:

  • A healthy lifestyle is equally important as an aphrodisiac you use, if not more.
  • Do your research about different aphrodisiacs, learn as much as you can 
  • Adhere to instructions and recommended doses 
  • Aphrodisiac is not a replacement for making an effort in a relationship or how you feel about your partner. 
  • Not all aphrodisiacs work the same way for everyone, so be careful when you’re asking someone to recommend what they use. Every person is different, and their experiences vary. What works for you may not be effective for another person.
  • Remember that a placebo effect is also important in this case.

Potential pitfalls

Before you even start using aphrodisiacs, there are some things you may want to take into consideration.

Some of the common pitfalls linked with aphrodisiacs include:

  • Unrealistic expectations or thinking they will work magically right away.
  • Failing to consult the doctor, especially if you have a health condition for which you need to take medications.
  • Disregarding the idea that side effects and interactions may occur, especially with the low aphrodisiac quality.
  • Failing to acknowledge your mental health, feelings, emotions also play a role in sex drive. Libido is not one-dimensional. How you feel about yourself and your sexual partner matters too.

Sometimes we are led by the fact that aphrodisiacs are natural compounds. For that reason, we often overlook the risk of adverse reactions or fail to consult this subject with healthcare providers.

To get the most from aphrodisiacs and reduce the risk of potential complications, you should always discuss this subject with your doctor and learn as much as possible about the aphrodisiacs you want to use.

Other ways to improve your sex life

Healthy sex life is crucial for the quality of relationships between two people, and it has a significant impact on your confidence. It’s natural for people to strive and improve their sex lives the best way they can.

Besides aphrodisiacs, there are tons of other things you can do to take your sex life to a whole new level. These include:

  • Regular exercise
  • High intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Consumption of meats, eggs, and Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Stress management
  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption
  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining physical affection

As you can see, tips for better sex life revolve around modifying your lifestyle. This is the most effective approach to take your sex life to a whole new level and keep it that way. 

Conclusion

This post focused on the mysterious world of aphrodisiacs. There are tons of plants, foods, and other natural compounds that increase sexual desire.

Even though aphrodisiacs have been used for centuries, solid evidence of their effectiveness is still missing.

Many studies revolved around animals, e.g., male rats, or had other limitations. However, as many cultures used them and millions of people swear by natural aphrodisiacs, you may want to give them a chance.

Make sure to consult your healthcare provider, though. 

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Sources

  1. Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. (2013). Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs. Pharmacognosy reviews7(13), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.112832
  2. Lim P. (2017). Asian herbals and aphrodisiacs used for managing ED. Translational andrology and urology6(2), 167–175. https://doi.org/10.21037/tau.2017.04.04
  3. Mollaioli, D., Ciocca, G., Limoncin, E. et al. (2020). Lifestyles and sexuality in men and women: the gender perspective in sexual medicine. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 1810 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-019-0557-9 
  4. Leung KW, Wong AST. (2013). Ginseng and male reproductive function. Spermatogenesis, 3(3). https://doi.org/10.4161/spmg.26391
  5. Worsley R, Bell RJ, Gartoulla P, et al. (2017). Prevalence and predictors of low sexual desire, sexually related personal distress, and hypoactive sexual desire dysfunction in a community-based sample of midlife women. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(5), 675-696. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.03.254
  6. Janssens PLHR, Hursel R, Martens EAP, et al. (2013). Acute effects of capsaicin on energy expenditure and fat oxidation in negative energy balance. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067786

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