Myth or Truth?
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If your inbox looks anything like mine, you have ads for things like “Passion Rx,” “Make Hr Com Lnger,” and “Horny Goat Weed Liquid.” Though there’s certainly no shortage of products on the market purporting to stimulate sexual appetite and lift libido, a true aphrodisiac—an agent that arouses sexual desire—has yet to be found.
However, maybe this doesn’t matter. Although no food, drink, herb, or potion has been proven to biochemically make humans hot, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things that help plant the seed of sex in a flame’s brain. As Dr. Ruth once said, “the most important sex organ lies between the ears.”
Below are ten things to be used—or avoided—when trying to put a partner in the mood.
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The logic behind the rhino horn as an aphrodisiac is quite literal: the horn is phallic and erect, so eating it is supposed to make one’s own phallus erect, as well as increase libido.(Though if a penis as pointy as a rhino’s horn came charging towards me, I would be anything but aroused.) However, there is no evidence that there’s anything in the horn of this almost extinct animal that would be make one’s penis point skyward. It does contain calcium and phosphorus, which, in nutrient deprived diets, could have resulted in better health—“better health” meaning more energy for the horizontal tango. It seems easier these days to just get our nutrients from spinach. Leave the rhino out of it.
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Similar to the shape/function association of the rhino horn, ginseng is also thought of as an aphrodisiac because it’s thought to resemble a man’s unit. In fact, the word ginseng means “man root.” (Please, God, let me never, ever come across a man with a ginseng root-shaped penis.) The root does have mild stimulating properties, and has been used medicinally in China, Tibet, Korea, and India. According to the FDA, there have been some experiments showing a sexual response in animals, but there is no evidence that ginseng has an effect on human sexuality.
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Some say that oysters are an aphrodisiac because they come from the sea, just like the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. Some say that they gained their reputation because they have zinc, and this may have helped those with nutritionally deficient diets improve health, and thus, sex drive. I say they are used to woo because they look just like vaginas, though certainly not mine. Whatever the reason, oysters are associated with romance, special occasions, and are a fun delicacy. The placebo effect just might work.
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Like oysters, we often think of chocolate as an indulgence, and eat it on special occasions. Though chocolate does have some feel good chemicals—theobromine and phenethylamine—they occur in such low quantities that it’s not going to make your date drop their pants. Yet, still … there is something about chocolate melting in your mouth that is undeniably sensual.
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Yohimbe is a tall, evergreen tree found in West Africa; its bark contains yohimbine, a compound with a long history of aphrodisiac use and a fun to pronounce name (Yo-him-bine). It supposedly works by energizing the nerve centers in the spine. Although the FDA says there are some “encouraging” results from animal studies, its effectiveness in humans is anyone’s guess.
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Suffice to say that the occurrence of one-night stands would be drastically reduced if it weren’t for alcohol’s lubricating effects. It decreases inhibitions and helps us relax; sometimes inhibitions hold us back from having sex and sometimes being uptight can prevent us from enjoying intercourse. It seems clear that alcohol is a type of aphrodisiac, at least in the sense that it can make you more open to the possibility of having sex. Of course, that possibility can be shattered if you have too much; not much stays erect, or you stay awake after a few too many Sex on the Beaches.
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Spanish fly actually does have physiological effects, though not always desirable ones. Not really a fly, but dried beetle remains, Spanish fly works by irritating the urogential tract. With irritation comes a rush of blood to the private parts. While this may feel good for a bit, Spanish fly can also lead to infections, scarring of the urethra, and supposed death. Chocolate never sounded so good.
Photo: Franco Cristophe
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A man’s problems may have less to do with arousal and more to do with hardware malfunction. That’s why pharmaceuticals like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, which help men obtain and maintain erection, are used as sexual aids. These aren’t exactly aphrodisiacs, because they don’t increase sexual desire per se, but they do help seal the deal.
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… is one of the hottest industries in America. Even if you’re not down with it, chances are your partner is. Planting the not so subtle seed of sex via explicit pictures could be the most obvious aphrodisiac around.
A Little Romance
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In her book, The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine writes, “For women, foreplay is everything that happens in the twenty-four hours preceding penile insertion. For men, it’s everything that happens three minutes before.” That’s right, getting people in the mood takes more work than just popping a pill or sprinkling some ginseng on their oysters. Women have to be in the mood in their head, meaning they can’t be pissed at their partners, annoyed at their lover, or uncomfortable and uptight. Cue Barry White, red wine, a hot tub, a vacation, and a good connection. Now that’s hot.