By Ed Jackson

Will rose oil really make you irresistible? Can exercise give the libido a lift? Over the centuries, everything from oysters to chocolate has been heralded for their amorous effects. Read the information below, but you must agree to hold the author harmless from any amorous side effects.




Seductive smells: Aromatherapy has been a lover’s art since the days when Cleopatra rubbed jasmine oil in her hair before business meetings with Mark Antony in order to confound him, “The most potent aphrodisiacs come from flowers,” “Rose is the love scent; jasmine is the sex smell. Ylang ylang and neroli are commonly used, but sandalwood and cinnamon are also effective.”


Soothing scents: As well as emitting a tantalizing smell, essential oils relax the body and arouse the senses. They help dissolve inhibitions by signaling a switch from cerebral pursuits to the more emotional and feral, says Fellner. An aromatherapy bath is a sensual treat to put you in the mood, or try burning a candle scented with oils. Most aromatherapy products advertise their amorous effects on the label, be they love, lust or romance.


Vitamins and supplements


Zinc: A lack of zinc has been associated with impotence because it plays a role in sperm formation. Seafood, eggs, fish, meats, wheat-germ and nuts are good sources of the mineral; coffee and tea impede absorption.


Melatonin: The theory goes that animals breed in winter – when levels of this natural hormone peak – so that their offspring will be born in the warmer months. Hence, melatonin has been linked with sexual desire. Well, it’s been touted for everything else, so why not this, too?


The sex and fitness connection is strong: Exercise releases “feel good” hormones and gives you a sense of control, of being in tune with your body. Scientific evidence indicates that fit people have more and better sex. And Duke University found that people who lost weight had better sex, thanks to improved stamina and self-image.


Oysters: Sorry, we could find little hard evidence to support this old wives’ tale. In fact, the oyster’s erotic renown may simply be based on its similarity to female biology. According to a medieval belief now called the doctrine of signatures, if a plant part resembled a body part, then that plant was used to treat any problem associated with the organ, which may explain the sexy reputations of artichoke hearts and asparagus spears.


A whiff of pie: When planning your next romantic dinner, don’t forget…pumpkin pie. A recent study from Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation revealed that certain food odors arouse sexual desire. The study of 31 male volunteers found three combinations the most arousing: pumpkin pie and lavender, pumpkin pie and doughnut, and doughnut and licorice.


Chocolate: Yes, it does contain phenylethylamine, which the body produces when we’re in love. Since chocolate is often a feature of more lavish amorous occasions, it’s difficult to calculate the effect of the chemical alone. It might be worth a box to hedge your bets. Or try cooking up Torta Divina, a chocolate cake you could fall in love with.


Garlic and onions: These two are often linked with the libido. For this reason, the Massachusetts yoga retreat Kripalu used to leave them off the menu; sexual desire was reckoned to interfere with the pursuit of calm.


A great many herbs – from sarsaparilla to red clover – have been hailed for their power to stir the loins. “There are some herbal aphrodisiacs that may tone or stimulate our sexual organs,” says Ruth S. Jacobowitz in 150 Most-Asked Questions About Midlife Sex, Love & Intimacy (Hearst Books, 1996). Among the most talked-about:


Ginseng: One of China’s most prized herbs could be a mild sex stimulant. There is some evidence exists that ginseng contains the female sex hormone estrogen. Ginseng is also thought to lessen fatigue. While it hasn’t been proved that nerve stimulants – not just ginseng, but also tea and coffee – perk up more than your eyelids, staying awake is obviously the key to enjoying sex! “Montezuma was known to take a cup of hot chocolate before he hit the harem because he believed in its effect.


Chaste-tree: Yes, despite the unlikely name, this herb, also called chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), is sometimes recommended as a hormone stimulant for women.


Damiana: For men suffering from depression, which can surely dampen desire, damiana (Tumera diffusa) might be a help: It reportedly acts as a stimulant for the male hormonal system and as an antidepressant.


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