Can aphrodisiacs stimulate libido?

Can aphrodisiacs stimulate libido?

When Your Va Va Voom has Vamoosed….can you re-ignite a dormant sex drive with food?

Author of  Edible Pleasures - a text book of aphrodisiacs Lana Citron explains…

A cursory glance on the internet will bombard you with a vast array of foods all claiming to be ‘natural Viagra’, the answer to your ‘flagging libido’ or guarantee ‘orgasmic bliss’.  It is big business.  Everyone it seems wants to know how they can eat their way to a better sex life, not least 50-something women. Many women during this period of physical and hormonal change find their interest in sex diminishes, their desire disappears, and their libido lays dormant.  It is a common problem, but can you re-ignite desire, and can aphrodisiacs help?

Firstly, what is an aphrodisiac?  It is a 'digestible' which arouses sexual desire.

There are four main types of aphrodisiac:

Biochemical Aphrodisiacs have a direct effect on sexual activity because of their properties, vitamins, and minerals; i.e. food deemed nutritionally good for you.

Pharmaceutical Aphrodisiacs are those prescribed in aid of virility, fertility and sexual pleasure; i.e. Viagra. 

Psycho-physiological Aphrodisiacs refer to foods visually resembling genitalia, i.e. the phallic banana or the ‘vulva’ oyster.

Finally, those foods deemed to be aphrodisiac by implicit association, stemming from the belief that ingesting vital organs of other animals one can imbibe vigour or vitally, i.e. tiger testes, snake’s blood, and bulls’ balls.

It is not just what we eat but how we eat it

Researching Edible Pleasures one of the most fascinating discoveries was that the use of aphrodisiacs is a universal practice.  All cultures since time immemorial use food to provoke, kindle, stoke, enhance or prolong the ardour between the sexes.  Our relationship with food exceeds simple nutritional sustenance and is of immense importance throughout our lives, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.  In fact, eating is an incredibly intimate act involving all the senses, touch, taste, sight, sound and smell.  Sharing a meal is basic human behaviour and a primary commandment of every seducer’s manual.  So, when we eat together it is important to be mindful of the mood created.
Indeed, it is the entire experience of eating together - not just the consumption of an aphrodisiac which provokes desire.  All aspects must be considered; the aesthete of food, the ambiance of the room, the chemistry and familiarity of the two people involved.  These are all equal components in the desired goal.  Rather than spend money on dodgy herbs or food supplements promising to ‘move the earth’ it may be worth rekindling intimacy with a night out or weekend away - investing in time spent alone and together.  

Eating is basically foreplay to the main event.  The main event being sex.  The root of the relationship between food and desire is to be found in reproduction.  Food is the essence of life.  It will come as no surprise that traditionally the genders have different uses for aphrodisiacs.  For men, it is about potency, virility, stiffness, and size.  Traditionally women were more concerned with fecundity.  So, using food to enhance the female libido post menopause is relatively new.  Up to a couple of hundred years ago one’s life span rarely exceeded fifty years and many women died in childbirth.

Happily, life span and sex life has increased so which  foods can help women maintain a great sex life?

Where to begin…?

Once I started writing Edible Pleasures,  I realised almost all foods at some time, or another, have been designated as having aphrodisiac qualities. Scientific studies on this subject are still in their infancy and offer no conclusive answers; although recent studies show some tested root plants and herbs do work.  Personally, I believe aphrodisiacs are effective with the following caveat - there is no stronger aphrodisiacal stimulant than the desire provoked by one’s own mind; the foremost erogenous zone.

Below is a list of  food supplements that have been scientifically approved albeit tacitly to  have a positive effect on peri and postmenopausal women.

Eating your way to better sex life

Nothing can beat a nutritionally healthy diet alongside exercise.  Foods high in antioxidant-rich foods help by increasing your circulation, opening up blood vessels and making you strong and flexible.  However, the following herbs and supplements are recommended for menopausal and postmenopausal women.

Maca is a root vegetable, native to Peru's Andes region.  Used for centuries to enhance sexual arousal it is especially suitable for menopausal women and can help with hot flushes.  You can find it in most health food shops.

Sage too is highly recommended and a clinically proven remedy for flushes. Available in supplement form from most chemists and health food stores.  Korean red Ginseng, research on this root plant  has shown it can boost sexual arousal in menopausal women albeit there have claims it can also cause insomnia.

Ginkgo biloba is an extract from an ancient species of tree used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for depression, sexual dysfunction, and other ailments.  There is some evidence to show how it could improve memory (so you might just remember how you used to enjoy sex…)

Sea buckthorn an antioxidant rich oil is said to increase vaginal lubrication.

The inhalation of neroli oil is recommended for postmenopausal women.  In trials women who inhaling it a couple of times a day reported an increase in sexual desire and were also found to have lower blood pressure.

Further reading

Edible Pleasures*- a text book of aphrodisiacs a cultural and culinary romp through the history of aphrodisiacs

Natural Aphrodisiacs—A Review of Selected Sexual Enhancers

* Affiliate link