The Fab Five of Aphrodisiacs

In Greer’s article for us this week, she surveys five common aphrodisiacs and how they can impact our experience of lust. Is it a placebo effect or something more? Maybe you can try some of her suggestions for yourself!

Pharmacologist Miriam Hospodar once said, “Food and sex are bedrock to the survival of the species and have been rocking in bed together for as long as they have kept all creatures great and small alive. Languages on several continents have words that mean both “to copulate” and “to eat.”

Aphrodisiacs: they play an important role in our cultural milieu, yet people rarely talk about them in a truly serious or scientific context. Authors can wax poetic about the sensual benefits of, say, a square of dark chocolate, but what are these assumptions founded on? Where does the social function of an aphrodisiac intersect with its actual benefit? Can food actually make sex better––or have we been buying into (and munching on) a very convincing placebo?

I was genuinely curious as to whether the question of aphrodisiacs being “real” was something that could be researched further; however, having neither adequate time, money, or willing participants to complete a full investigation (seriously, how would you test that? Give someone an oyster and say...“go for it?”), I decided it would be easier to turn to the world wide web for guidance. Here, I present an effective ranking of popular (and some not-so-popular) foods to…..let’s just say, spice up your night. Lust Factor refers to how truly effective a certain aphrodisiac is purported to be, while Practicality Factor means how easy it is to obtain...and eat. Happy loving!

1. Honey

Lust Factor: 3/5

Practicality Factor: 5/5

This one is a given. Honey has been popular in several cultures for thousands of years up until modernity. It was also thought to be a divine food; it was used in the worship of Dionysus by the ancient Greeks, as well as often in Hindu puja prayer rituals. It’s also included in several of the aphrodisiac recipes in the Kama Sutra (for those of you who don’t know what this is–sigh–it’s an ancient Sanskrit text on sexuality and love), so what could go wrong? That being said, consuming a lot of honey could likely make you have a sugar crash, which is not optimal for nighttime energy. Tread with caution.

2. Oysters

Lust Factor: 4.5/5

Practicality Factor: 3/5

This is a very contentious subject. Apparently, seafood is connected with sex + love due to being the whole “birthplace of Venus thing”, but I have a hard time believing that eating a ton of these will lead to a good night. That being said, 18th-century intellectual Giacomo Casanova wrote about their benefits in his racy memoir; he described himself as seducing over 100 women, so that has to count for something. Additionally, according to the American Chemical Society, bivalve mollusks are “found to have desire-inducing properties,” specifically the amino acid D-Aspartic. Also, it’s worth noting that if you order oysters in a restaurant, your date will probably think you have fancy taste, which could possibly make them think you are super classy and could improve your chances.

3. Cobra Blood

Lust Factor: 2.5/5

Practicality Factor: 1/5

Across several countries, cobra blood, meat, and organs are said to have serious health benefits, not least including boosting sexual drive and performance. While there actually is no scientific evidence to back it up, anecdotal stories have popped up all over the internet of the effectiveness of this one. Apparently drinking blood directly from the body of a freshly-killed snake is the most effective way to get things going; also, it makes you look kind of badass. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to obtain, as you’d have to take a flight to Southeast Asia to get the most benefit, leading to an extremely low practicality score. If anyone ever does this, let me know!

4. Chocolate

Lust Factor: 3/5

Practicality Factor: 5/5

Chocolate, perhaps the thing most people think of when they hear the actual term “aphrodisiac.” Sacred to the Aztecs and the Maya people, chocolate beverages were so popular that Spanish conquistadors researched it and eventually spread the word. Although the only information we have is from the Spanish themselves, which introduces a bias, several physicians during the 17th and 18th centuries described chocolate as having libido-enhancing properties, some going so far as to say monks should be banned from consuming it! However, chocolate is a good one to start with. If you go for a high cacao content, chocolate has loads of nutrients and antioxidants. And if you take care of yourself, chances are you’re more

5. Ashwagandha

Lust Factor: 5/5

Practicality Factor: 2/5

If you’ve never heard of this before, don’t worry. Ashwagandha is a natural supplement that is mentioned in the Kama Sutra for being a powerful sensual stimulant, as it increases the production of nitric oxide in the body, thereby increasing blood flow to….certain areas of the body. It also reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), limiting stress which can be considered a major factor in a relationship; it also increases fertility and can act as a hormone stabilizer. Finally, it apparently...boosts endurance? Take that one how you will. The only drawback to this one is that it’s pretty niche––time to hit up Amazon or Holland & Barrett.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to find what works best (or not at all) for you and your body personally. However, take this as a recommended guide, and I’m sure you’ll get some ideas on how to have a good night!