Which aphrodisiacs work and which don’t?

Achieving better sexual performance through increased libido is an aspiration as old as man’s existence on earth. From ancient times to the present day, elements that are believed to bring sexual pleasure to paradise have always been in demand and sought after. There have always been and will always be foods that are considered aphrodisiacs.

But …. all those with a real aphrodisiac reputation really have this property? Find out what the science says about the most popular aphrodisiacs.

To begin with, the medical definition of an aphrodisiac is “any food or drug that arouses the sexual instinct, induces desire in general and increases pleasure and performance”.

The word comes from “Afroditae”, the Greek goddess of love, and these substances come from plants, animals or minerals that have been the object of human worship since time immemorial.

Many natural substances have been historically recognised as aphrodisiacs in Africa and Europe.

Even in today’s culture, certain foods are used as aphrodisiacs, such as strawberries and raw oysters. Chocolate, coffee and honey also have aphrodisiac potential. But although these natural elements are known as aphrodisiacs, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

In a study published in the International Society for Sexual Medicine in 2015, researchers looked at the 8 most popular aphrodisiac products and analysed the evidence supporting their use.

Chocolate

Scientists found that chocolate contains components linked to higher levels of serotonin in the brain, but no difference in sexual function was found, so they concluded that eating chocolate to increase sexual desire is a baseless myth.

Ginkgo biloba

They found a decrease in sexual dysfunction between men and women who consumed it. In general, people do not have problems with Ginkgo, but researchers point out that there is a high risk of bleeding and recommend careful use of the product.

There are no well-documented studies showing that honey has an aphrodisiac effect. The researchers also warn against the use of “Mad Honey”, which is produced mainly in Turkey and advertised as a sexual stimulant, as it can cause heart problems.

Oysters have long been believed to be an aphrodisiac, probably because they contain zinc, which is necessary for testosterone production. However, no studies can confirm that oysters have any effect on sexual function or desire. They are therefore disqualified.

Wild sweet potato

Wild yam extract is often added to creams and is believed to relieve menopausal symptoms and increase sexual arousal. However, studies have not found significant improvements in users. Researchers point out that it offers no real additional benefits.

Chasteberry

Agnocasto (Vitex agnus-castus) commonly known as chasteberry is thought to affect hormone levels. When used in low doses, it can reduce estrogen and increase progesterone levels. Although the berry has been found to reduce PMS symptoms, it does not appear to be effective in improving sexual problems. Since there is no evidence that it works for sexual desire, researchers say they cannot recommend it.

Maca works

Maca is an herbaceous plant, native to the Andes of Peru and Bolivia. It belongs to the Brassicaceae family, from which it retains many characteristics, and is considered a food plant and, traditionally, a medicinal plant. It improves sexual function in healthy women and helps men combat erectile dysfunction. Although more research is needed, Maca works and has very few side effects.

Ginseng shows promise

It turns out that it can help fight erectile dysfunction. Researchers have found seven studies that compare the use of ginseng for erectile dysfunction with placebo, and ginseng seems to be very effective. Korean red ginseng has been found to improve sexual arousal in postmenopausal women.

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