So, Are Aphrodisiacs Real?

It’s no wonder why humans look to food as a means to fuel their sexuality.

There’s no debate about it, everyone would love for their partner to consider them a master in the bedroom. We love to revel in the post-coitus, victorious feelings as our significant other lays breathlessly beside us. We all want to perform well, to satisfy and to be satisfied.

Sex expert Psalm Isadora states that “having great sex is a whole lifestyle. You must make time for it and do things like having a date night, making your bedroom a place you want to be romantic in and paying attention to what you eat.” So it’s no wonder why humans look to food as a means to fuel their sexuality.

What Is An Aphrodisiac?


Get your daily dose of herbal aphrodisiacs! Photo: Lee McCoy / Flickr

The Food and Drug Administration defines an aphrodisiac as “any product that bears labeling claims that it will arouse or increase sexual desire or that it will improve sexual performance.”

Humans all around the world, for thousands of years, have been ingesting a lot of pretty impressive, sometimes crazy, and even fatal things in hopes of enhancing their good time.


^^ Not actually Spanish Flies. But would you want to eat them if they were? Photo: Katja Schulz / Flickr

Spanish fly, for example, are blister beetles (lytta vesicatories) that are dried and crushed into a powder form. The insect secretes an acid-like juice, which when excreted by the human body through urine, causes irritation and burning that swell the genitals. This swelling was assumed to be sexual arousal.

But what it is is a chemical called cantharidin. With an ability to blister your skin, it’s historically been used to remove warts, and can also cause erections lasting hours. Oh, and kill you.

The Truth Behind Aphrodisiacs


Can food legitimately get us in the mood? Photo: DominÖ / Flickr

So are there any truths in the libido-boosting claims or are all the theories as limp as lettuce?

The current data on their effectiveness is disappointing. There is little evidence to recommend the usage of natural aphrodisiacs for the enhancement of sexual desire or performance.

In fact, research has demonstrated that the risks of many of these “sexy foods,” including mad honey and Bufo toad (consuming either can lead to poisoning or worse) may outweigh any benefit and should be avoided entirely.

Steeped In Superstition


Are you turned on, yet?! Photo: @flavourgallery / Instagram

Some traditional aphrodisiacs, like avocados and figs, base their reputations on their texture or shape. Foods that resemble either male or female sex organs have had a pretty strong place in the pantheon of aphrodisiacs across many civilizations.

Unfortunately, most of this is complete nonsense and driven mostly by superstition. The power of suggestion does play a hand in arousal, but it can only go so far.


So sensual. Photo: / Instagram

A prime example of this is the oyster. Although oysters offer a lean source of protein to help give us energy and are high in zinc, which improves blood flow, boosts semen production and regulates sexual hormones, experts believe their appearance and the suggestive way we eat oysters (by slurping) that get us going.

And what about chocolate? Turns out, it isn’t as sexy as we thought. Researchers conclude that chocolate as an aphrodisiac is just a myth and that it does more for our sweet tooth than our sweet spot.


Then why is it so synonymous with love?! Photo: @jinsun_kakawa / Instagram

Chocolate does contain dopamine and other pleasure chemicals, which boost levels of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Serotonin occurs naturally in our bodies and is released by our brains when we are happy, but there are no properties in chocolate that directly correlate with enhancing our sexual perceptions.

But There Is Hope


Love in a bottle? Photo: Republic of Korea / Flickr

One natural ingredient has shown some promise – ginseng root. Ginseng is an overall system-booster, improving vitality and energy while also increasing blood flow to the genitals.

Ginseng actually acts very similarly to oestrogen, which plays a huge role in female’s sex drive, by boosting the sensitivity of the vaginal lining. It also increases blood flow to the brain and other organs, making you feel healthier and more alert. The root is typically chewed or stewed in water to make tea or soup.


Upon further inspection, ginseng is kind of sexual. Photo: @notiffanyno / Instagram

As with all food, we must be careful with how much we consume. If you are planning to surprise a person of interest with an extravagant, eight course romantic dinner, make sure to keep those servings small.

Even if a meal comes loaded with proposed “aphrodisiac” ingredients, they won’t be much help if you’re left so stuffed that you feel sleepy, physically uncomfortable, or worse, just unsexy.

Moderation is the key. Scratch that, according to research, imagination is key. Some suggestive eating mannerisms follow. And then moderation.