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What are Aphrodisiacs?

StrawberryNamed after the Greek goddess of love - Aphrodite - an aphrodisiac is any substance that stimulates and increases sexual desire and pleasure. Many foods and drinks fall under this category, and have been used as such throughout history. Of all foods, certain herbal preparations have shown to stimulate our libido the strongest.

Aphrodisiacs work through many mechanisms, some are better understood, and others less. On a physical level, one common mechanism of some aphrodisiacs is to increase the circulation of blood throughout our system, which naturally benefits the sexual organs. Other aphrodisiacs work on a hormonal level. Some imitate naturally occurring hormones, and others trigger our body to produce more sex hormones.

Read more about the Top 20 Aphrodisiacs Around The World

Aphrodisiacs can be divided into three main groups. These are food, herbal and synthetic aphrodisiacs. The following is a small overview:

Aphrodisiac Foods

FigsFood based aphrodisiacs rely on their gastronomical effects to enhance sexual drive and pleasure. In modern times, research has identified a number of active chemical constituents and nutrients contained within food that naturally increase out libido with long term use.

In past times, food aphrodisiacs were not really based on what we would call scientific today. Many traditional and folklore food aphrodisiacs were thought to be so because of the way they looked, or because of some mythological or spiritual story. While many foods indeed show aphrodisiac qualities, many were not more than a placebo, increasing sex drive though the force of belief.

Examples: Oysters / Bananas / Asparagus / Figs

Herbal Aphrodisiacs

Maca - Lepidium meyeniiHerbal aphrodisiacs have been used for thousands of years. Many cultures and traditions preserved knowledge about pleasure inducing and enhancing shrubs and herbs. They held great cultural significance and are still in use all over the world.

Unlike many foods, herbal aphrodisiacs have a more distinct chemical makeup, often containing alkaloids that strongly influence human behaviour. As such, many herbs have been used in traditional medicinal systems such as the Indian Ayurveda or the Traditional Chinese Medcine. The old Taoists of China were particularly renowned for their profound knowledge about aphrodisiacs.

Examples: Catuaba / Maca / Ashwagandha / Dong Quai / Yohimbe

Synthetic Aphrodisiacs - Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

ViagraThese are man-made pills such as Viagra, synthesised scents and pheromones. Often, the are the product of chemical isolation of a single active constituent, often based on herbal aphrodisiacs.
With erectile dysfunction problems spreading, more drugs are being developed to address this specific issue. The most popular synthetic ED drug is Viagra, which has gained widespread cultural significance since its introduction in 1998.

Examples: Viagra / Cialis / Levitra / Staxyn / Stendra