Aphrodisiacs: Fact or Fiction?

Certain foods are just plain sexy to eat–strawberries, oysters, and chocolate come to mind–but do they endow the eater with true sexual desire?

“Aphrodisiacs have been used for thousands of years all around the world, but the science behind the claims has never been well understood or clearly reported,” says Massimo Marcone, a professor in the University of Guelph’s Department of Food Science.

Conditions such as erectile dysfunction are treated with synthetic drugs, including sildenafil (commonly sold as Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis)–but these drugs can produce negative side effects such as headache, muscle pain and blurred vision, and can have dangerous interactions with other medications. They also do not increase libido.

Marcone and master’s student John Melnyk examined hundreds of studies on commonly used consumable aphrodisiacs to investigate claims of sexual enhancement, either psychological and physiological–results of their study appeared in the journal Food Research International. Here’s what they found:

Ginseng, saffron and yohimbine, a natural chemical from yohimbe trees in West Africa, improved human sexual function.

Wine and chocolate, improved sexual function, but their amorous effects are likely psychological.

Spanish fly and Bufo toad–while purported to be sexually enhancing, they produced the opposite result and can even be toxic.

People report increased sexual desire after eating muira puama, a flowering plant found in Brazil; maca root, a mustard plant in the Andes; and chocolate. Although despite its purported aphrodisiac effect, chocolate was not linked to sexual arousal or satisfaction, the study said. ”It may be that some people feel an effect from certain ingredients in chocolate, mainly phenylethylamine, which can affect serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain,” Marcone said.

Alcohol was found to increase sexual arousal but to impede sexual performance.

Nutmeg, cloves, garlic, ginger, and ambergris (formed in the intestinal tract of the sperm whale) are among substances linked to increased sexual behaviour in animals.

While their findings support the use of foods and plants for sexual enhancement, the authors urge caution. “Currently, there is not enough evidence to support the widespread use of these substances as effective aphrodisiacs,” Marcone said. “More clinical studies are needed to better understand the effects on humans.”

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Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

Fiction. Can you imagine if let's strawberries did have this super power,well we would definitely be be chowing down hundreds of them as 5 simply won't do. That a lot of strawberries!!! Thanks.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton3 years ago

Fiction. The only real aphrodisiac is a gorgeous, young, hot bodied, well hung dude and I would venture to say that's for most women. And for most men it's a hot young chick but I'm not a man so I can't speak for them. All this other stuff is just superfluous. None of it really "works". The best "high" in the world comes from "falling in love" and that's just a normal chemical reaction in our very own brains. And "falling in love" is entirely caused by SEX, DESIRE, and SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES! That's the only reason we were born, for SEX and REPRODUCTION! Everything else is INVENTED bullshit. All this "search" for "answers" is futile because there are no answers, that's all there is.

Andrea Lyons
Andrea Lyons4 years ago

Although every Body is different and responds uniquely to natural remedies, I've seen Maca root, thanda, steel libido bring terrific results. Also, focusing on and lowering cortisol levels has a tremendously positive effect on libido. Cheers! Ande

Edwin Kierulf
Edwin Kierulf4 years ago

You mentioned that maca root reportedly increases sexual desire. I agree.
In addition, maca also has a high nutritional value. It is safer than taking HRT because It is a natural hormonal balancer.
Peruvian women have long been using maca for thousands of years to help them remain strong and fertile.
And the good thing is, maca aside from increasing a person's libido, it also helps women in overcoming menopause problems.

Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

With humans, I think it's more psychological and emotional. If chocolate and wine work for you, then it's an aphrodisiac. If you're allergic to either one, then it isn't. Who said it had to be pure physical? We all know the main sex organ is the brain. If chocolate covered strawberries being savored is sexy to eat, feed each other or watch the other do, then it's an aphrodisiac and it's affecting your brain first.

Wioletta S.
Wioletta S.4 years ago

good to know

Deanna R.
Deanna R.4 years ago

There are real aphrodisiacs, don't kid yourselves.

Deanna R.
Deanna R.4 years ago

If you are going to eat strawberries, make sure they are organic. The single most toxic food on earth is non-organic strawberries! They are full of pores and nothing covering them. They are sprayed with a ton of fungicides since they are prone to mold. Also lots of herbicides & pesticides and nothing keeps that from seeping into the fruit. Organic strawberries are sensual food indeed. Dipped in chocolate. Sounds good to me.

Eduardo V.

It is commonplace to say it, but truly caring for the person you're with, loving that person, is the best afrodisiac. If you're not aroused, let it be. The problem is that sexuality is not always the preferred way of expressing love in some people and that creates unevenness and frustration.Which takes preeminence, love or sexuality is a deeply personal choice when the two do not coincide 100% in their form of expression.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare4 years ago

Teresa: I keep noticing your comments on articles about sex, why comment if it disgusts you so much? Express your asexuality elsewhere, dear.

Fact or fiction? Probably a fact because this couple who appeared on oprah after losing weight by having lots and lots of sex said they eat this vegetable whatever it was called.