A few weeks ago, Rinna Riesenfeld, a well-known sex therapist, resolved some general doubts about aphrodisiac foods, or those that promise to increase sexual desire and potency in humans.
For Dr. Riesenfeld, aphrodisiac foods have a very simple definition: “These are foods that have the capacity to enhance, create and improve sexual energy of the person who consumes them.” However, she is categorical in stating that the aphrodisiac foods, as such, do not actually exist. ”People go to the sexual power of seafood or fruits, because that is what they hear. But any food, the tastes of which people like, can be considered as an aphrodisiac, according to research.” she says.
And the search for a natural remedy to increase virility and strength in bed has been an obsession for men of all civilizations and religions. Spermaceti ointment, toad skin, exotic herbal ingredients … endlessly has been used throughout the history in beverages of all kinds. However, scientific studies that support the effects on the sexuality of these natural aphrodisiacs are few and controversial.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine has reviewed the evolution of these products, which take their name from Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty in ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite was born from sea foam caused by the genitals of Kronos, who was castrated by his father Uranus, who threw the testicles into the sea. Already Hindu poems, dating back 3 000 or 4000 years, contained references to substances with capabilities to enhance male’s performance. The Ancient Romans consumed genitals of animals for this purpose, and this practice was also carried out to other cultures.
If anyone thought that with the evolution of medicine and the emergence of specific drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil (Viagra), the interest in natural remedies would decrease, one was wrong. ”There is a resurgence of these aphrodisiacs, which further pursuit of this Holy Grail of sex.” Rany Shamloul from the Department of Andrology and Sexology, Queen’s University (Canada) and an author of this review, confirms.
Why? The researcher points out two possible explanations. First, that is the hope of those men who see a diminished libido, but whose problem is not treatable with current medications and, secondly, there are men who perform well but want to be even better in private.
Science has not been indifferent to the phenomenon of natural aphrodisiacs, and some studies, especially in animals, have tried to confirm if you can really count for something. Among those who have awakened more interest is yohimbine, a substance extracted from the bark of trees in Zaire, Gabon and Cameroon. In fact it was the first oral agent, before the release of Viagra, which was prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction. But its effects are mild and only for certain types of dysfunction.
Another of the most popular products is the ginseng (read more about it). Specifically, the aphrodisiac properties attributed to red ginseng. Studies conducted with this herb and which have involved more than 300 men with Erectile Dysfunction, showed that red ginseng improves ED better than placebo products that have been used in the studies. However, the mechanism of action is still unknown.
The Ambra grisea, a substance found in sperm of whales and used in Arab countries to treat headaches and rheumatism, was investigated in animal studies to see if it increases sexual potency, although no conclusive results were found. The same has happened with the tissues of the frogs and beetles.
Epimedii grass, common in Chinese medicine, and Muira Puama, typical in Brazil, are considered aphrodisiacs, and some studies have shown that these increase sexual desire and erection, but no one knows how these cat or whether have possible side effects, so the herbs require long-term controlled studies to confirm whether they are worthy heirs of Aphrodite.
Less than previous exotic aphrodisiacs but with the same fame are cocoa, cannabis and alcohol. Studies have shown that cocoa can play a role in addressing the function of female genitals, and some women confess they feel more pleasure after consuming this product, but scientists do not quite agree on these isolated data.
The relationship of alcohol to sexuality is very old. Many think that alcohol enhances sexual desire also, but the results of research conducted to date are contradictory: continual use of alcohol leads to ED. Additionally, cannabis is far from promoting virility, and the studies have shown that it causes sexual dysfunction in women and inhibits orgasms.
The expert from Queen’s University concludes that “scientific evidence on this is too limited to recommend the use of natural aphrodisiacs, many of whom also have a high toxicity profile that may cause significant side effects“. This view is in line with the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), which do not recommend the use of these products until they have firm evidence of benefits from controlled trials that support it.
The kebab, tea, seafood and spicy are other products that are attributed to aphrodisiac properties. But again researchers believe that “these work more by suggestion than anything else“.