Aphrodisiacs are sexual stimulants used for centuries by all cultures to heighten sexual desires. The idea is not new or a strange one. We come into contact with it everyday, although in a much subtler form.
The most primitive form of natural sexual stimulant is the scent of smell from the human body. Odors and subliminal scents from males and females act as natural sex stimuli which is unconsciously picked up by the brain and stimulates the production of mood altering hormones. Animals use scent too to indicate when they are ready to mate.
Aphrodisiacs were first concocted to treat sexual anxieties and then to increase fertility for human procreation. Since then, they were recognized for their properties of boosting sexual desires and energy. The Chinese were one of the earlier known civilizations to use natural herbs and roots as aphrodisiacs. However, every culture have their own local aphrodisiacs made from local ingredients. Natural aphrodisiacs are derived from plants and herbs, ginseng, yohimbe, damiana, and certain animal parts. Non-natural are made from chemical substances or scented with pheromones (or simply drugs). Most aphrodisiacs nowadays combine both natural and artificial ingredients (ie vitamin enriched herbal recipes).
Types of Aphrodisiacs
Aphrodisiacs function as sexual stimulants in two principal ways. The first is to achieve a healthy well-being with more energy, more vitality, and mental alertness. The goal is that a strong healthy physique (or strong erections) will also make us more sexually active. The second is to create a stronger sex drive by stimulating the mind and creating the desire for sex. This is done by ingesting certain foods that stimulate the release of mood-altering hormones. There has been a much scientific debate about the effectiveness of aphrodisiacs to alter a person’s mood or whether the effect is self-imagined. Although anti-depressants or caffeine can affect a person’s mood, there isn’t a magic drug which can create an immediate sexual urge like the mythical Spanish Fly. But taken regularly and with proper nutrition, foods can indeed enhance the libido and remedy low sex drives.
A herbal ingredient extracted from the Corynanthe Yohimbe bark, a tropical tree which grows wild in certain parts of Africa. It’s one of the most popular ingredients used in aphrodisiacs and has been used for centuries as a tonic to enhance sexual pleasure. Besides being used to enhance sexual performance, there are also many other health benefits. Among them, they are used as anti-depressants, for the prevention of heart attacks, increased mental alertness, and for a more balanced overall health. Yohimbe is usually taken with Saw Palmetto and Ginseng as a remedy for men and women with low sex drive.
Yohimbe is available today in packaged capsules from pharmacies and drugstores. Caution is advised as it may cause side effects.
Damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca) is extracted from the leaf of a plant found in Mexico and South America. Consumed by herbalists as tea, Damiana is classified as a nervine tonic which has many health benefits. It is taken by women either as a sexual stimulant, or to treat certain female disorders related to the reproductive system. With proper exercise and diet, Damiana is also used to treat infertility in women. It is also commonly used by both, men and women to stimulate a stronger sex drive.
Deer Velvet is taken from the growing antlers of a deer. The deer sheds and regrows its antlers each year, during which time the deer sports short furry hair resembling velvet; and hence the name. Deer Velvet has been used for more than 2000 years as a medicinal health tonic. Similar in benefits to the ginseng, deer velvet is taken as a rejuvenating tonic for enhanced overall health, to aid in fertility and to create a heightened sexual interest. It is available in capsule form.
The most widely known, ginseng has been used for centuries in Asia as an aphrodisiac or tonic for well-being. They are widely taken with other herbal supplements as a stimulant and energy booster. There were reports suggesting that ginseng has effects on hormones and may act like a hormone itself. Studies are still ongoing for its potential as an anti-cancer agent. The price of the root runs anywhere from $30 to $600 per pound and in the U.S. ginseng is a multi-million dollar industry. You can read more about Ginseng here. Besides the raw root, ginseng extract is also available in capsule form from pharmacies or drug stores.
Commercially marketed as an aphrodisiac to increase sex drive, Boom is a natural blend combining Yohimbe, Ginseng, Deer Velvet, and enriched with amino acids. It is taken to increase sexual desire and performance and also helps with erectile dysfunction. Boom is taken orally as sachets containing chocolate flavored powder.
Vuka Vuka is from Africa, a herbal alternative to Viagra and aphrodisiac used to enhance sexual performance instantly. I don’t know what to make of it but you can read all about it here. It was also featured on CNN, BBC and The Guardian, so there might be some basis for it.
Let’s clear this myth once and for all. The story about this mystical “Spanish Fly” began in a locker room when some teenager slipped the drug to his unsuspecting date and was whipped into an uncontrollable sexual frenzy. The tale caught on (as with lots of hot gossips) and the adult industry chanced on the opportunity of creating a million dollar buying frenzy. The term Spanish fly was marketed as an aphrodisiac to create instant sex drives. The people loved the idea (at least some of them did), the pornographers promoted it, the internet proliferated the idea and the cash came rolling in. Until today, you can still see it marketed as an instant remedy for sexual desires on certain online stores. That’s the myth.
Now the facts. The boring part. Spanish Fly got its name from a dried crushed body of a beetle known as Cantharis Vesicatoria. It has certain medical applications as a diuretic. The kidneys excrete a substance known as Cantharidin to stimulate urination. The Spanish Fly contains Cantharidin and hence its application as a diuretic. It works by irritating the urinary tract and causes an increased blood flow to the groin area. Contrary to popular belief, this itching in women does not whip them into a sexual frenzy, but it is in fact quite the opposite. In men, the increased blood flow causes sustained painful erection not associated with sexual desire.
So in 1996, the FDA took on a study and confirmed that the drug has no sexual benefits. But the adult industry continues to sell the idea. Afterall, myth sells better than facts. The Spanish Fly marketed these days usually contain ginseng. Carefully study the ingredients and you will find they don’t contain Cantharidin, the substance in Spanish Fly and hence it does not work. I hope not, otherwise, men will just end up with painful erections.