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Aphrodisiacs: Fact or Fiction?

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.”

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Health, Love, Natural Remedies, Relationships, Sex,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

41 comments

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2:59AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

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.

3:55PM PDT on Mar 31, 2012

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.

12:15PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

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

12:24AM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

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.

2:30AM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

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.

11:51PM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

good to know

9:36PM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

There are real aphrodisiacs, don't kid yourselves.

9:33PM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

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.

3:03PM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

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.

2:08PM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

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.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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