A is for Aphrodisiac

A is for Aphrodisiac

Hi everyone!  Welcome to the A to Z of Sex.  I’m Dr Lori Beth and I am your host.  We are working our way through the erotic alphabet one letter at a time.  Just a reminder this podcast deals with adult content, so if you don’t have total privacy, you might want to put on your headphones.  Today the letter is A and A is for Aphrodisiac.

Aphrodisiacs are substances that are meant to increase sexual desire and they have been used throughout history.  The name comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.

At 16, I spent the summer studying Russian language at Harvard University.  I was young and free and without much supervision in Cambridge, Massachusetts.   I had the time to explore and the atmosphere was magical.  Bill was a tall sexy guy from Puerto Rico living in the same dorm.  I really wanted to seduce him and I wasn’t confident enough to believe he would want me without a complex seduction.    A friend told me that the best aid to seduction is a good aphrodisiac so I invited Bill for drinks and nibbles on Friday evening and headed to the library to plan the menu.  That Friday I served raw oysters, chocolate and champagne and the seduction was successful.

Did my food choices really act as aphrodisiacs?  Is there anything to them or is it just magical thinking?   The research is conflicting as context appears to have a large impact on whether a substance increases libido.  A lot of research suggests that aphrodisiacs work because we believe they will work.  That is the placebo effect – where it is our own expectations that make the treatment work.    However, there is research that highlights a variety of compounds that seem to regularly work as aphrodisiacs in certain situations.

I’m going to start my tour of aphrodisiacs with the science – the compounds that science demonstrates work as aphrodisiacs.  For people with low testosterone levels, extra testosterone will increase libido.  This is true for both men and women.  It is unclear, however, whether this works with people who have testosterone levels in the normal range. Transgender people who take testosterone report an increase in sex drive.  There are some people who take it recreationally to increase libido as well.

Phenethylamines are present in food and naturally in the body.  These act as an aphrodisiac but are quickly neutralised by the enzyme MAO-B in food.  The only way to keep the effect is to take an MAO inhibitor.

Amphetamine and methamphetamine are derivatives of phenethylamines and are well known as aphrodisiacs.  The intensity of aphrodisiac effects vary from person to person.  Cocaine and methylphenidate can also act as aphrodisiacs but cocaine in particular can cause erectile dysfunction.   This can be extremely frustrating for the guy who has given cocaine to his date in the hopes that he will get her into bed that night and then finds he can’t perform.  There are other drugs that have increased libido as a side effect but come with such negative consequences that they are never prescribed to help with problems with desire.

Natural aphrodisiacs have always been more interesting to me.  Are the oysters I chose to feed my date really aphrodisiacs and why? Casanova was an 18th century player famous for his conquests.  In his memoirs, he told of seducing over 122 women.  Rumour has it that he ate 50 oysters for breakfast every day.  Dr Fisher, a professor of chemistry from Miami, Florida and his team of researchers discovered that oysters truly do produce amino acids that trigger hormone production which increases libido.  Oysters must be eaten raw to be most effective and the spring is the best time to eat them.

Chili peppers work in a different way.  These stimulate endorphin production which make you feel good but they also increase heart rate, and make you sweat which is what happens during arousal.  It isn’t as direct an effect as oysters.

What about chocolate?  Dark chocolate causes a dopamine spike which gives us a serious spike in feeling good.  It also contains phenylethylamine.  The taste and texture are sensual so all together chocolate can be an excellent aphrodisiac.  The ancient Aztecs first used cacao as a sexual stimulant.  Cacao ceremonies have become popular in the west in the last 15 years.  Raw cacao is specially prepared and shared amongst the participants.  These are said to increase feelings of love, increase sexual desire and increase connection.

Ginseng has been used to increase potency for men and the research has also found it will produce neurogenic effects that can increase libido for both men and women.

Historically, foods that looked like our genitalia were considered to be aphrodisiacs.  Avocados, eggs, asparagus have all been touted as increasing libido.  These have been seen to work on the principles of sympathetic magic.  If they resemble something then they are seen to have a relationship to that thing.  For example, walnuts were used to strengthen the brain because they look like brains.

In Egyptian times, lilies were consider to be aphrodisiacs.  The scent of a lily was used in oils and unguents to aid in seduction.   In the 8th century BC in Roman times, the remora fish was mixed into potions and sold in the market to induce passion.  In 19th century AD, blowfish was considered to have powerful aphrodisiac effects.  There was only one potential problem.  Blowfish is highly poisonous and will kill you unless prepared properly.  In Japan, fugu is only able to be prepared by licensed chefs. From 2005 – 2014, 359 cases of fugu poisoning were recorded in Japan.  There are only 17 restaurants in the US that offer the delicacy.

Prior to modern times, aphrodisiacs were used as one of the powerful tools in the arsenal to increase fertility.   Nettles were considered to increase lust and are still used today in herbal fertility preparations.

Some of the historical aphrodisiacs seem to have actual aphrodisiac properties.  Oysters is one of these.   Cinnamon and cardamom are also considered aphrodisiacs because of the increase in blood flow they provoke. Garlic is also known to increase blood flow and improve sexual energy.

Believe it or not, celery has two chemicals androsterone and androsterol that increase libido.  Pomegranates improve blood flow.  Asparagus increases the circulation in the genitourinary system and this leads to increased desire.

Spanish fly which is actually made from beetles, has a long history of provoking intense desire.  It is also an extremely dangerous poison and is lethal in small doses.

One of the best roots, with lots of proven research, is maca root.  There is a significant body of medical evidence that maca will increase libido.   Natural Health International produces three maca products for women that all help increase libido as one of their qualities.  Macapause is for menopausal women.  This helps with libido, hot flashes, dryness and a host of other menopause symptoms.  This product is fantastic.  15 years of research and clinical trials have gone into this product.  You can get advice from the medics for your individual situation on the website:  They will talk with you live online or via phone.

Some substances that have been used as aphrodisiacs in the east have led to extreme destruction in the animal community.   In traditional eastern medicine, tiger penis is used to treat erectile dysfunction.   Despite the myth that rhino horn was used for the same purpose, experts say it has never been used as an aphrodisiac or in Chinese medicine for that purpose.  Black market dealers in rhino horn from Vietnam have helped to push this Western myth as it increases demand.

Ambergris has been added to scents to create some of the most sensual and aphrodisiac perfumes ever created.  Ambergris is made up of the contents from the intestines of the sperm whale.  It is thought it is primarily the indigestible parts of the squid which irritates the stomach of the sperm whale. It floats on the ocean until it eventually washes up on shore.  The best ambergris spends years oxidising from the combination of salt, sun and air.  The competition to collect it is fierce as it sells for over $9000 per pound.  Possession of ambergris is illegal in the US (and has been since 1972) because it originates from the endangered sperm whale.

The scent of vanilla produces feelings of relaxation and euphoria and is often used as an effective aphrodisiac.  Researchers found the smell of liquorice to be the scent that aroused women the most.

Sandalwood has been used in tantric sex rituals forever.  It is associated with increasing the power of orgasm.  Jasmine contains indole which is a compound also found around human genitals.  It is one of the most long lived aphrodisiac scents.

Peppermint is the scent most likely to be successful in boosting a woman’s low libido.  It also wakes us up and keeps us alert.

Alcohol has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac throughout the ages.  Alcohol is a system depressant.  It slows us down, reduces inhibitions and makes us more receptive to the seducer’s advances.  Of course this only works when alcohol is used in moderation.  Too much alcohol and erections don’t happen.  Too much alcohol and people fall asleep.

Here are some of the recipes I use if I want to get my lover in the mood:

  • Raw oysters. Make sure they are fresh and don’t open them until you are preparing to serve.  I serve with a little cocktail sauce (a small amount of horseradish, ketchup, lemon.  Some people add Worcestershire sauce and others add tabasco).
  • Chocolate fondant. This one will take about 45 minutes to make.  I use 200g good quality dark chocolate chopped into pieces.  The better the chocolate, the better the dessert.  Follow the link for the full recipe.
  • Chicken with saffron and raisins I eliminate the sherry and add extra chicken broth.
  • Vanilla Bean Lemonade This yummy take on fresh lemonade is great in the autumn when you are experiencing Indian summer.
  • Pine Nut Brittle Pine nuts are chock full of zinc just like oysters and produce the same aphrodisiac results.  This little sweet is delicious to munch with a cup of tea or a drink.
  • Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream For all you chocoholics this is a delicious rich recipe.  Sometimes, I switch the buttercream for chocolate whipped cream.
  • Fensenjan (Persian chicken with pomegranate)  This is a scrumptious sensual dish.  Sometimes I use whole chicken thighs and other times I substitute duck.  Sometimes I change the walnuts for pecans.  Serve with your favourite rice.  I enjoy serving it with saffron rice which adds to the aphrodisiac qualities.
  • A mocktail from the NYC museum of sex Nightflower
  • And another from NYC museum of sex Lucky Devil
  • Healthy Fudge (with raw cacao) Finally here’s a recipe to take advantage of the bliss producing raw cacao. Use raw cacao powder not cocoa powder.  Quality counts.  Get the best you can.

Remember to check with your intended about food allergies.  If you plan to seduce your lover into the bedroom, don’t prepare a meal that is too big.  You don’t want to be too full to be comfortable being physical.

Thanks for joining me for the A to Z of Sex. Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at , follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to and click the button that says Schedule Now! If you enjoy the show please leave me a review on iTunes and Stitcher.  The next five people to review will receive a 1 hour session for free which is a £250 value.  Why not join me for my free teleseminar on 11 October https:/ to learn my 3 steps to Sexual Satisfaction. See you next week when the letter is B.

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