I have been doing research for this blog and for my upcoming book and I am surprised that almost every herb I come across has been used as an aphrodisiac.
Some herbs like cacao are easy to understand. Others like ginger, black pepper, parsley, walnuts and avocado are less likely to understand. Perhaps it is their effect on circulation that led to the aphrodisiac reputation.
This is possibly one of my favourite topics. Most people love chocolate. It is the go to food for PMS and heartbreak. It is the gift that lovers exchange on Valentines day.
Montezuma the womanizing Aztec emperor was the first chocoholic. He drank upward of 50 cups of cocoa per day and always another cup prior to any of his sexual encounters.
The Marquis de Sade mixed Spanish fly and cacao and fed it to his sexual partners.
Casanova also drank cacao prior to his sexual encounters.
Some societies even prohibited women from eating or drinking cacao because it was thought that it would make them lustful!
The Medical Side
Interestingly, cacao has been found to be beneficial to the heart. It is extremely high in both magnesium and antioxidants. Doctors are even recommending that patients eat a small amount of 70% or above cacao chocolate to help keep a healthy heart.Cacao has been found to reduce blood pressure, prevent LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). It also tones the arteries and protects the heart muscle.
Sadly the more dairy and sugar you add the less medicinal benefits you reap.
The name avocado actually comes from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl which means testicle. The lusty Aztecs used avocados as a sexual stimulant because of their shape. They were known by the Aztecs as fertility fruit.
In modern times research into the health benefits of avocado includes its effective use as a sexual stimulant and to increase menstrual flow.
Another medical connection for my theory that certain plants became known as aphrodisiacs is that the avocado is also good for the heart. It helps lower cholesterol and improves blood pressure. It even has an interaction with Warfarin.
Ginger has been touted as an aphrodisiac by Dioscorides, the University of Salerno medical school, John Gerards Prescriptive herbal and even the Arabian Nights.
Like Cacao and Avocado ginger improves the circulation. This is what is thought to give ginger its reputation as an aphrodisiac. Along with improving circulation, ginger is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. This keeps the cardiovascular system healthy. It is also known to prevent platelets from sticking together which reduces blood pressure. As with the others, ginger also reduces LDL.
The last plant I want to look at today is Parsley. Throughout history parsley has been related to death and dying so it is pretty interesting that it also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac.
Along with the obvious fact that in a historical period where no one brushed their teeth, parsley sweetened the breath so you could actually get near your partner, it also has some medicinal benefits.
Hormonally parsley increases estrogen. Steeping a parsley tea for 45 minutes and drinking it prior to sex can make a difference.
Looking at the cardiovascular benefits, parsley has been shown to lower blood pressure through its action as a diuretic. Parsley is also antioxidant rich and prevents platelets from sticking together.
There is a caution that parsley interacts with diuretics (water pills) and Warfarin.
Now for My Soap Box
Many animals are killed simply to harvest a body part in order to improve a humans sex drive. There are much easier, kinder and tastier ways to do this through herbs. Please, lets leave the animals alone.
THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ADVICE OF YOUR DOCTOR. ALWAYS CHECK INTERACTIONS WITH MEDICATIONS PRIOR TO INGESTING ANY HERBS.