It’s inevitable that the discussion of aphrodisiacs so often leads us to the delectable foods that have been prized for so many hundreds or thousands of years for their powers of potency. Eating and drinking is as much a sensual experience as sex itself and we often use the words of sexuality to describe our gustatory exploration, calling our favourite meals “orgasmic” and associating foods with phallic shapes or luscious lips.
What Are Aphrodisiacs?
The basic quality of an aphrodisiac is its ability to create desire. By definition, chemicals like Viagra, which are designed to improve performance, are not aphrodisiacs. If you have ever taken an “erectile dysfunction” medicine, medically prescribed or otherwise, you will know that it is possible to imbibe and not actually get an erection. Just because your body is capable of sustained arousal doesn’t automatically make you aroused!
The chemical reaction that makes aphrodisiacs effective ultimately involves our hormonal systems, in particular testosterone – for both men and women. When the limbic love of the brain receives signals from the pelvic region that indicate arousal, the signals respond and tell the blood vessels to dilate, which creates erect tissue, no matter your gender. The vessels quickly close, locking that blood inside the enflamed tissue, which first causes feelings of arousal, but left as such can eventually lead to discomfort (also known as “blue balls” in men).
As the physical signs of arousal begin to display, the heart rate rises and the brain begins to release a cocktail of neurotransmitters to prepare our body for pleasure, primarily the love-inducing norepinephrine and dopamine. Lack of testosterone in the body can lead to lack of interest, which means the entire process of arousal stagnates before it can even begin.
How Aphrodisiacs Work
There are a number of factors when it comes to the ability of the body to assimilate aphrodisiacs into arousal. While some aphrodisiacs do have the ability to change body chemistry for the facilitation of arousal, others merely stimulate the senses into a natural sense of lust, and still others work simply because of what medical science calls “the placebo effect” having no scientifically proven value. Of course, if something is safe to use, and works to get your engines running, does it matter whether or not science can prove why it works?
Choosing an Aphrodisiac
Foods chosen for their appearance, like the phallic bananas, which are also high in potassium and B vitamins necessary for hormone production, and avocados, called the “testicle tree” by the Aztecs because of the way they grow in pairs, are associated with sex primarily because of how much they look like sex organs! Even oysters, thought to have aphrodisiac properties because of their high levels of zinc, D-aspartic acid and NMDA compounds which aid in the release of sex hormones, are known as sexy food primarily because of the resemblance they share with the inner labia lips. Cucumbers, obviously phallic, are believed so stimulate a woman’s vaginal blood flow through their scent.
Sensual foods like chocolate and honey are known to include sex-enhancing compounds, and spicy foods like ginger and chili peppers can really get the blood flowing. Eating foods that are healthy, natural and as unprocessed as possible is a key factor in improving hormonal health as well. Basil has been known for centuries to stimulate the sexual senses, along with herbs like cardamom, anise seed, vanilla, cinnamon, garlic, fennel, ginseng, and nutmeg.
In addition to foods that have been proven to work as aphrodisiacs, or thought to by ancients, because of their shape or their contents, there are many foods that stimulate sexual desire because they make us feel at home. The scent of pumpkin pie, cheese pizza, buttered popcorn, licorice, and lavender have been shown to have positive effects on arousal – some for men and some for women, though both loved the fresh-baked pie scent and the relaxing aroma of lavender.
What About Pheremones?
The word pheromone comes from the combination of two Greek concepts: pherein which means “excitement” and hormone which literally means “carrier” – pheromones are the “excitement carriers” of the body.
These compounds found in sweat and other bodily fluids exist for the sole purpose of attraction, identifying ones genetic makeup to potential mates on the lookout for someone who’s DNA is different enough, yet compatible with their own.
Not all people have been known to posses the “vomeronasal organ” (VNO) responsible for detecting what are thought to be “odorless” chemicals, but how often has your lover told you how good you smell, or buried her head in your pillow on a lonely day, even though you wear no cologne?
It is possible to buy human pheromones from sex toy retailers, but the arousal from such an application is not only short-lived, but it may be false… and you may end up intriguing more than just your partner! Your best bet is to alter your lifestyle and increase your intake of natural aphrodisiacs, which will lead to a cleaner, sexier pheromone profile without breaking the bank.