A is for Aphrodisiacs: How they Help (or not Help) Increase Your Desire

Can an almond a day help keep low desire at bay?

When someone mentions aphrodisiacs what comes to mind? Like me, you might recall a book or movie mentioning a food like oysters and the promise that somehow in their slimy midst they have special properties that boost sexual desire. Pop culture even comments on aphrodisiacs, such as in the movie Wedding Crashers when Will Ferrell give his two cents on what he believes is “natures most powerful aphrodisiac”. Ferrell was comical in his idea of an aphrodisiac but it makes one wonder - what exactly are aphrodisiacs and their role in desire?

A simple search reveals a definition of aphrodisiacs as being any food, drink or drug that stimulates sexual desire. Known aphrodisiacs include chilies, avocados, figs, chocolate, and alcohol, among many other delicacies, any of which have been used for ages. For instance, Hippocrates often prescribed honey in fifth century B.C. to aid in sexual enhancement. Today, aphrodisiacs have taken more of a drug focus, which is evident by the recent approval of the newest “pink pill” called Addyi, which claims to help with women’s sex drive.

Is it too good to be true?

Well, yes and no. Although aphrodisiacs are advertised to increase desire, they work instead on heightening arousal and the sensations in your body. For instance, they help to get the body more energized, which is the case with the sugar in Hippocrates honey prescription. Others aid in supporting a healthy body primed for sexual activity, like with the antioxidants in chocolate and the increased blood flow caused by ginger. Aphrodisiacs can also mimic sexual excitement, like with the chili peppers heart-pumping capabilities and wine causing you to feel heated and flushed. Sexual desire has also been thought to come from foods that symbolize sexual organs, like almonds, as well as fertility, such as the plump black bean.

With many wanting to increase their desire, the allure of a boost to the libido being as easy as slurping down a few oysters or taking a brave bite of a chili pepper is understandably appealing. Unfortunately, they don’t cause a magical boost to your sexual desire, although there could arguably be a small placebo effect. Now, I’m not telling you to not enjoy chocolate or a crunchy almond, but to keep in mind that opening up the mind, and as a result the body, to sexual excitement takes more finesse than taking a bite of an oyster.