Best aphrodisiac plants and natural substances are listed in this article. David Wolfe explains in his book 'Longevity Now' that to some extent, sex hormones are those determining our energy and youthfulness. Healthy sex life and libido has been linked to longevity and the absence of diseases. This does not incorporate just a physical act but romantic, loving sex that creates a powerful connection between two people.
This article is ongoing research into the best aphrodisiacs out there. I am interested in these as they are the invigorating, energising, youth-enhancing compounds out there for each of us to enjoy and incorporate into our lives. Only natural aphrodisiac solutions are discussed here: plants and natural chemicals, since any of the synthetic counterparts will most likely have a negative effect on your long-term health and sex drive.
I started this list off as aphrodisiac plants and herbs but ended up including some foods as well. Some meats and seafoods are not included in this list, but may have aphrodisiac qualities as well, such as steak, anchovies, caviar, lobster, mussels, oysters, and sea urchins.
Some fruit which is not listed below may also enhance sex drive, including bananas, mangos, pineapples and quince. Look out also for foods that reduce sex drive, e.g. chasteberry (vitex), hops, soy and cherries. The smell of cherries is said to have a sex-drive-lowering effect on women.
Also, champagne, red wine and vodka martini have been reported to put you in the mood, although this may be purely due to the effect of the alcohol, which in itself is not considered an aphrodisiac because - despite of its relaxing effect - it actually worsens sexual performance.
Some traditional stories and anecdotal evidence suggest that almonds have an aphrodisiac quality, perhaps partly due to their vitamin E content, which is good for hormone health. I suspect long-term use is needed to reap benefits.
Claimed by some to be one of the strongest aphrodisiacs on earth, even rubbing it against the skin has been said to be immediately effective. It releases pheromones when rubbed against the skin. It has been used in perfumes (e.g. Hermes' Eau de Merveilles, "Miracle Water" and perfumes by Creed) and can also be used in foods. Its sales have been especially commercialized in the Bahamas but it can also be found in the coastlines of China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Maldives and Molucca, etc.
The bad news? What ambergris consists of is sperm whale's naturally-eliminated waxy stomach lining.
Apricot seeds contain B17, a vitamin that activates, invigorates and sustains sexual hormones. According to Dr. Brian Clement in 'Longevity' you should have 5-15 apricot seeds for best results. These will require several hours to take effect.
However, according to many other sources, more than two bitter apricot kernels per day is quite poisonous. They can be lethal in high doses because they can produce cyanide. Bitter apricot kernels contain more of the poison than sweet ones, but both can be very toxic.
Apricots themselves have by some also been associated with an increase in libido.
Basil oil and dried basil was used by women in the old days to attract men. It is unlikely to be an aphrodisiac when eaten, however. A component in both basil and holy basil (tulsi) called 'eugenol' dilates one's blood vessels and may be combined with the beneficial effects of the fragrance of the essential oils of the plant to mildly enhance mood and sex drive. The added benefits of the essential oil fragrance: provides mental and emotional pick-up, dispels melancholy, sharpens the senses and induces an euphoric, giddy feeling.
According to one source, black raspberry enhances brain function, libido and endurance. Dosage: 10 black raspberries or better: 1 tbsp of its seeds. These will take two hours to take effect.
Black Raspberry Seed Extract:
This plant is considered an aphrodisiac in China.
This Amazonian plant is considered a central nervous system stimulant with aphrodisiac properties in Brazilian herbal medicine. It can also help nervousness and poor memory. Also known as chuchuhuasca, chuchuhuasi, tatuaba, pau de reposta and caramuru.
It has said to help with erectile function and apparently works better when combined with other herbal aphrodisiacs, such as muira puama. It is part of the coca family of plants and some people report that it can make them irritated. For others, it seems to increase energy and confidence.
Powders and extracts may not work as different plants are often missold as catuaba. Fresh, shredded herbs have been reported to be better.
According to one source, dosage is as follows:
Mild dose: 1-2g per day
Medium dose: 3-5g per day
Strongest dose: 5-10g x2 per day
Can be taken in tea, or as alcohol tincture, or as food.
One person who found catuaba effective recommended to boil 1-2tbsp in 1/2 litre of water for 15 minutes. He recommended adding lemon juice or vinegar in the boiling water to extract more of the alkaloids and less tannins.
He also reported that the follwing tincture might be more effective: Mix 30g of catuaba bark with 1/2 litre of liquor, leave for two weeks, shaking the bottle every day. In his opinion consuming just a few sips should do the job.
Some people report that the effect starts after three weeks of regular use, others report an effect after 20 minutes. The effect can increase over time.
Has been traditionally combined with Muira Puama or Maca.
See: catuaba bark.
Cheese boosts an all-start line-up of phenylethylamine (PEA), casein, histamine, tryptophan and magnesium. Cheese can contain up to 10x the quantity of PEA as chocolate, and is thus theorized to enable a dopamine-high. Casein, on the other hand is broken down in the stomach into a natural opiod called casomorphin. In addition to this, tryptophan increases serotonin (for better or for worse) and elevated histamine-levels have been found to be consistent with a high sex drive and increased awareness. Magnesium, also, is key to the production of sex hormones.
From all of this, it is not wonder that cheese is so addictive. Note, however, that it may not be well-tolerated with most people, causing mucus, digestive upset or allergy symptoms. For best effects, enjoy raw, organic, unpasteurized cheeses or stick to other aphrodisiacs completely.
Chillies contain capsaicin, which is a chemical that has been linked to the release of endorphins in the brain, which are important for the feeling of euphoria. Better moods equal more and better sex.
The hotter the chilli, the better the aphrodisiac effect, apparently, but don't overdo it, otherwise 'romantic thoughts will take second place to the burning tongue'. Cold milk or something sugary will help ease the burn. It is rumored that you can also take more chilli than usual when combined with chocolate.
In Indian and Chinese traditional medicine, chilli is used to boost low libido.
Organic Chilli Chocolate:
Cocoa solids in chocolate contain the following aphrodisiac suspects: theobromine, PEA (phenylethylamine) and tryptophan. Theobromine raises heart rate and dilates blood vessels the same way as sexual arousal does. It is a methylxanthine, a mild stimulant, in the same category as caffeine. Tryptophan boosts serotonin, which is by some believed to be a feel-good chemical which may play a role in sexual arousal. (However, others believe that excess in both tryptophan and serotonin are harmful for health.) PEA is as stimulant but it is debated whether it can make it to the brain via the digestive system.
Some sources report that methylxanthines in general are libido-boosting which makes me wonder about the effects of caffeine...
Aztecs and Mayans are said to have enjoyed their chocolate with chilli and vanilla, two other aphrodisiacs. A little nutmeg may be added as well.
It is not necessary to expose yourself to the chemicals and sugar present in chocolate bars to get the benefits. You can make a hot chocolate using raw organic cacao nibs (ground), dates (if you need a sweetener), cashew nuts, vanilla seeds, water, cacao butter, and any other ingredients you desire. The cashew nuts mixed with water become like milk, so you can be dairy-free as well if you wish. Milk is more fatty and sweet, though, so add some dates or maple syrup and some type of fat, like cacao butter, to get a more satisfactory result. You can also search online for 'raw chocolate recipes' and you will get plenty of amazing-tasting yet healthy recipes.
"Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth About the World's Greatest Food" by David Wolfe:
A potent aphrodisiac according to some reports, it has also been found to increase energy, to relieve asthma, depression, menstrual problems, anxiety and nervousness. It has been found to improve digestion and can be a slight laxative in large doses.
It is an aromatase inhibitor (stops the age-related conversion of healthy androgen hormones into unhealthy estrogen). It originates in Central America and is said to boost blood flow and increase sensitivity to the nerve endings.
Can be mixed in liquor and made into tincture or enjoyed as tea. Mixes well with passion flower (tincture or tea).
A high, 'truly effective' dose according to one report was 5 grams of the herb (not extract, which is stronger!) in tea. Some people report that you can get a mild-to-medium 'high', similar to marijuana from it. In any case it has been reported to go well with a glass of wine, which can intensify the effect.
Supposedly a popular aphrodisiac worldwide, deer antler can be collected without hurting the deer, if done correctly. The antlers are rich in amino acids, growth and other hormones, and enzymes.
Personally I would not recommend taking this long-term or regularly since it has hormones in it. Taking hormones even in small quantities can disrupt your own body's hormone balance (e.g. your body may stop producing the same hormone if it gets used to receiving it externally).
According to some reports, to provoke sex-drive in both sexes, fresh ground dill seed is taken in a bit of honey, or in a glass of wine several hours before the effect is desired. Potentially increases fertility. Available in most supermarkets in dried and fresh form.
In Singapore this fruit is considered a legendary aphrodisiac. The edible inside of this foul-smelling fruit is said to be incredibly delicious and sweet. It has high levels of estrogens and the amino acid tryptophan, which metabolises into serotonin. (Note that excess of both, estrogen and serotonin may be harmful to some people, however.)
See: Tongkat Ali.
Contains a phytoestrogen entitled 'anethole'. Thus the estrogenic qualities can increase a woman's sex drive but have the exact opposite effect on men!
Dr. Brian Clement explains that fresh figs contain nutrients that are considered excellent stimulants of fertility. He also says that they increase the secretion of pheromones, which are hormonal fragrances that attract the opposite sex. Dosage: 3-5 figs.
Figs have been a symbol of sexuality in many ancient cultures. Mark Douglas Hill explains that the fruit has an unusual high concentration of flavonoids, polyphenols and antioxidants which can help strengthen and prolong sexual desire. He also points out, however, that the same could be said of many other types of fruit.
Aphrodisiac and hormone-boosting qualities have been reported with the dosage of 1 tbsp every morning.
Garlic boosts circulation and stimulates the release of nitric oxide, both bringing on arousal.
Stimulating due to its heat in a similar way as chillies and rocket.
An aphrodisiac for men, gingko biloba has been reported to improve erections, especially with regular use, and to increase sex drive in both sexes.
Ginseng boosts the level of nitric oxide in the bloodstream, which reportedly enhances blood flow and enhances libido.
Science has not been able to show what lies behind the long reputation of artichoke as an aphrodisiac. It may have something to do with its liver-strengthening qualities, since liver regulates the manufacture of proteins, which are needed for the production of testosterone. Testosterone has a sex-drive enhancing effect on both sexes. If that is the case, the aphrodisiac effect of artichokes is likely to build over time with regular use.
Note: Jerusalem artichoke can cause excess gas, therefore globe artichokes are better.
Stimulates the glands involved in sexual activity. Drink as tea.
According to Chinese Medicine, this aptly named herb is a very potent sex-drive-enhancer.
It is a Chinese herb used traditionally to treat fatigue and low sex drive. It contains phytoestrogens and therefore may not be suitable for all.
According to research, it increases libido in both men and women and improves erectile dysfunction in men over continuous use. The effective substance within it is called icariin.
The horny goat weed extract capsules are said to take about 90 minutes to take effect and the suggested dosage on the jar (pictured) is 1-5 x 500mg per day.
The effects of horny goat weed reported online include: relaxation of smooth muscle tissue, calming of the central nervous system, treating joint pain, anti-aging benefits, improved immune system and endocrine system, possibly increased testosterone, reduction in blood pressure, anti-inflammatory and good for bones.
The recommended effective dosage varies according to a source and is somewhere between 900mg and 12g per day, boiled as tea. Not recommended for long-term use.
Stimulating in a similar way as chillies and rocket. Wasabi, made from horseradish, is said to be a male aphrodisiac. The more heat, the more sexual drive.
Lentil sprouts have been reported to increase the cellular activity of sexually inciting hormones. Dosage: 90-150ml. Takes one hour to take effect.
Contains an opiate that activates sex hormones. Dosage: One bowlful. Takes three hour to take effect and can be taken as juice or food.
Real licorice root extract has by some been thought to mimic the effects of estrogen and progesterone. Licorice candy may not work, however.
You can purchase both licorice sweets and pure, processed licorice powder from Allthingsliquorice.co.uk
This superfood root plant from the high Andes is said to improve sexual desire in a modest way over long-term use, e.g. six weeks. It has estrogenic effects.
Mucuna Pruriens beans contain a natural source of L-Dopa, thus increasing dopamine in the brain and its associate good moods. An anti-stimulant. Also known as Kapikachhu.
From the Amazon rainforest, it's meant to boost sex hormones and enhance sexual desire via its effect on the central nervous system.
List of reported benefits: energy tonic, health improver, potent aphrodisiac, reduced blood pressure, stress management, nervous system stimulant and tonic, treats menstrual difficulties. May increase testosterone.
Dosage: 1-1.5g of 4:1 concentrated extract or 4-6g of basic extract according to one source. Some sources recommend use over two weeks.
According to Dr. Brian Clement you can eat one or two handfuls of these for a quick effect.
Mustard triggers the release of soothing, euphoric endorphins. It also quickens the pulse, dilates blood vessels and raises one's metabolism. The active ingredient, allyl isothiocyanate, is also responsible for the kick in horseradish, wasabi and rocket.
Fuels a woman's and/or man's sexual desire. Dosage: 3-4ml. Takes one hour to take effect.
"Dr. Alan Hirsch and his smell studies found that the aroma of pumpkin pie is one of the sexiest scents for both men and women. Nutmeg is the key spice in this American homey classic, providing yet more evidence that it is not only narcotic but rather erotic. If you want to fly the nutmeg high you are best off with its essential oil. Dip a cigarette in the oil, light up and wreathe yourself in fragrant smoke. Eating the spice is effective but the bumber dose and slightly queasy, twenty-four-hour trip may not be to everyone's taste. Enjoying nutmeg's aphrodisiac effect is more mainstream. Much less nutmeg is needed - a heavily seasoned dish should do the trick. The effect is heightened if you combine nutmeg with foods high in tyramine such as mature cheese, pineapple, avocado, chocolate or cured meat. Tyramine stimulates the release of the very monoamides that nutmeg keeps active, resulting in a double dose of fun. [...] Nutmeg is equally adept in sweet dishes. A rum, ginger and pumpkin cake with nutmeg frosting should hit the spot..." - Mark Douglas Hill: The Aphrodisiac Encyclopedia (book)
Oat sprouts for sexual vitality are recommended by Dr. Brian Clement. Dosage: 90-120ml. Takes 3-4 hours to take effect.
Extract from green oat straw has been shown to free up testosterone in both men and women, which would have a libido-enhancing effect. Both oats and green oat straw have phytoalexins (avenanthramides) which have a soothing and mild anti-histamine effect. Histamines speed up orgasm. These same avenanthramides' increase has been linked to the increase in nitric oxide in the sex organs - which is essential for dilating blood vessels and rushing blood in, in other words, essential for sexual arousal.
Supposedly an aphrodisiac because they contain a lot of libido-boosting zinc. Oysters also have aspartic acid and methyl-aspartate, both amino acids which can raise testosterone levels. Tyrosi in oysters, another amino acid, metabolises into dopamine. Oysters have to be eaten very fresh and alive, since they spoil very quickly. Serve with lemon juice, black pepper, Tabasco or shallot vinegar.
Causes sexual arousal in males. Dosage: Drink 60-120ml of the juice. Takes one hour to take effect. Eating pea greens in a salad will also provide modest erotic stimulation.
Peppermint may have some aphrodisiac qualities, whereas spearmint is rumoured to have the opposite effect.
Pinolenic acid, an appetite-suppressant present in pine nuts, sends a message to the brain to release oxytocin (the love hormone), dopamine and opioids. Dopamine creates feelings of desire whilst opioids wash the brain with pleasure. Pesto sauce is made of garlic, parmesan, pepper, basil and pine nuts which are all aphrodisiacs and Mark Douglas Hill calls it the world's most aphrodisiac sauce. Keep in mind that fresh ingredients are always more potent.
Rich in zinc, which is needed for testosterone production.
Researchers suspect that red wine's high levels of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, may help blood vessels widen which can increase blood flow and make you more aroused.
According to Mark Douglas Hill in 'Aphrodisiac Encyclopedia', resveratrol - a potent antioxidant - is the cause of red-wine arousal. Resveratrol is present in the skin of red grapes and apparently able to stop the natural conversion of the libido-driving male sex hormone testosterone into the feminine hormone estrogen. Women are more sensitive to testosterone's effects so red wine's seductive power may be more pronounced in women.
Another theory states that musky red wines have a male pheromone in them, which makes women feel in the mood.
Dosage: One glass is ideal, more than that may lessen your libido, depending on a person. Old world wines, such as Merlot, are said to have the most effect, and you may choose to enhance the aphrodisiac effect with spices.
Also goes by the name arugula. Rocket has a hot, peppery taste that sensitises the mouth, raises metabolism and dilates blood vessels. (Chilli, pepper, mustard, horseradish and peppermint may have the same effect.) The glucosinolates are the effective chemical compound in rocket, responsible for increase in sex drive, and their effect is reduced by cooking.
Crocin in saffron is said to enhance libido, though the exact mechanics remain a mystery.
True sandalwood essential oil has aphrodisiac qualities. Synthetic sandalwood does not have the same effect.
Has been rumoured to have aphrodisiac effects and contains diosgenin, which may or may not convert into estrogens, testosterones and progesterones in the human body.
Also known as "The Walking Palm" or "Cashapona", Socratesa Exorrhiza is a palm tree native to rainforests of Central and South America. The inner parts of the roots are used as a male aphrodisiac.
Legendary aphrodisiac but also toxic. Not recommended.
This herb is thought to be most helpful for those who suffer a loss of sex drive due to anxiety, stress, tiredness or depression. It is known to enhance your moods and help alleviate depression. I haven't noticed a significant effect on my moods from taking this as tea but maybe the dosage would have to be higher. Note that some people are sensitive to the effects of serotonin in which case this tea will not provide benefits, but can have the opposite effect.
The seeds of the aniseed plant have been considered since ancient time an aphrodisiac. In large quantities the plant has a narcotic effect whereas smaller doses will induce a relaxed state and help heighten feelings of sensuality. Can improve sleep and freshen breath as well. Chew the seeds, make bread and cakes with anis, make alcoholic tincture, use in curry or seafood dishes, etc.
Don't confuse star anise with anise, which is a completely different plant.
It has been reported to increase estrogen and may therefore increase sex drive in some people, in addition to having an overall relaxing effect.
Dosage: 1/11th to 1/7th litres. Takes one hour to take effect according to Dr. Brian Clement. According to some reports these may be toxic.
Truffles have andostenone which acts as an aphrodisiac. The black truffles have more andostenone than the white ones.
For men, significantly increases testosterone. Also known as Eurycoma Longifolia, it is a flowering plant native to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
For men, increases testosterone.
Vanilla increases adrenaline.
Vanilla essential oil has a calming effect and can induce closeness and romanticism. Whenever buying essential oils go for the good quality, organic ones, because the effect will be stronger. Some cheap essential oils, even the ones sold in a health-food shop, may be just fragrances and not contain the real plant.
The amino acid Citrulline present in watermelon is a weak nitric oxide stimulator, and thus increases blood flow.
Watermelon Seed Sprouts are said to enhance sensual intensity. Dosage: 180ml of the juice. Takes four hours to take effect.
Mexican Wild Yam Cream has been shown to have aphrodisiac effects on women almost immediately when rubbed on the lower belly and thighs. May work on men as well. Contains diosgenin. Long-term use not recommended unless it is specifically needed for hormonal balancing and hormone levels have been checked first.
Raw yams, grated or sprouted, elevate hormonal levels (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, DHA, etc.) in both women and men. Dosage: 1/7th to 1/3rd litres. Takes two hours to take effect.
Yohimbe is a weak MAO inhibitor. Should be used with caution and has been shown to have side effects, raises adrenaline. Yohimbine, derived from yohimbe has been used to treat impotence and erectile dysfunction. These products and herbs may vary dramatically in their effectiveness.
An aphrodisiac according to Dr. Brian Clement, can be taken raw or juiced. Dosage: Eat one zucchini or 60-90ml of juice.
An amino acid which increases blood flow, DHEA hormone, and consequently helps the body to produce more estrogen and testosterone.
Any foods that naturally increase dopamine in the brain can also increase sex drive.
Estrogen can increase the sex drive of women (not of men) but estrogen has to be balanced with progesterone, otherwise serious health and hormonal imbalance problems can ensue. You can get estrogens from plants (phytoestrogens) which may boost your sex drive, but it is not recommended to do this regularly because many people are estrogen-dominant (progesterone-deficient) and although their estrogen might be too low, their progesterone levels are even lower, and taking extra estrogen in that case would only help to worsen any hormonal imbalance problems. Balance the hormones first with lifestyle changes and hormone-balancing herbs, and then use safer aphrodisiacs than estrogen. More on balancing female hormones naturally here and here.
These boost libido and are found, for example, in chocolate.
"... what are known in the trade as MAOIs block the oxidisation of monoamines, such as dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline and phenylethylamine. The result is higher levels of these pleasurable libido-enhancing chemicals swilling round the brain..." - Mark Douglas Hill in 'The Aphrodisiac Encyclopedia'
Oxytocin, a hormone which can boost arousal, is produced when you touch your partner.
The scent of certain wines is said to replicate human pheromones, the 'tantric' body scents which are said to excite sexual instinct.
Present in foods. Works as an aphrodisiac when taken with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor.
This powerful antioxidant present in red grapes is an aromatase inhibitor, enhancing the libido-boosting testosterone.
Anything that increases testosterone increases the sex drive in both men and women. Birth control pills can reduce the amount of testosterone in a woman's body resulting in the loss of libido.
This amino acid helps the body to produce serotonin, which is generally believed to be a feel-good hormone which may play a role in sexual arousal. Note, however, that there is some concern about both tryptophan and serotonin being quite harmful for health in large quantities.
Can boost arousal and orgasm.
Can boost arousal and orgasm.
Vitamin E stimulates sex hormones in both men and women.
Zinc has been reported to enhance libido and sexual desire. Zinc helps the body produce testosterone, which is an important libido-booster for both sexes.
For some people, adrenaline-packed sports can put them in the mood.
Anything that improves blood flow in a healthy way can improve your desire for sex and also make sex feel better. Eating healthy fats, and a high micronutrient, high-raw food diet can help. Green juices and general good health will also contribute. These are long-term strategies though.
Eating a diet which is not too low in fat can help the sex drive, as long as the fats eaten are of a healthy type. Rancid vegetable oils, trans fats, and all polyunsaturated fats can diminish sex drive.
Sugar and processed carbs also play havoc on hormone balance and so do processed foods in general because of their chemicals and because they are hard to break down by your digestive system. Once your digestive system is over-burderdened, you won't absorp the nutrients from food properly, and the result is deficiencies.
Sex drive and hormones are often one of the first things to get compromised because nature does not want sick people to reproduce.
Dehydration also stops the proper flow of hormones. Eating oxygen-rich foods, such as raw foods, together with some easy-to-digest vegetables (and if you like: small amounts of organic meat) will help your body rejuvenate.
Vegan and vegetarian diets can be healthful but it is important to ensure enough protein, because many feel-good hormones need protein to get produced. Vegetarian and raw food diets often fall into the trap of eating too low protein and too high processed carbohydrate and sugar but with careful planning these problems can be overcome.
Healthy sex drive can usually be taken as a sign of a healthy body.
Exercising together has been shown to get couples in the mood. Part of the reason might be primitive hormone triggers hidden in the smell of sweat.
The colour red has been shown to turn on both men and women.
Regular yoga practice has been shown to increase your sex drive and improve your orgasms.
Douglas-Hill, Mark: "The Aphrodisiac Encyclopedia: A Compedium of Culinary Come-Ons" (includes recipes)
Dr. Brian Clement: Longevity, Enjoying Life Without Limits
David Wolfe: Longevity Now
Ravi K Puri, Raman Puri: "Natural Aphrodisiacs: Myth or Reality" (book)
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Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.