Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sugar and spice and everything nice: handy aphrodisiacs to have in your kitchen

Cinnamon, cloves, ginger and other common cooking spices have been considered aphrodisiacs for thousands of years in both Western and Eastern cultures. Many years ago, cinnamon was used as a cure against impotence, often mixed with wine in Great Britain and Rome. Cloves are reputed to be a male aphrodisiac because of their shape, especially in Indonesian culture.  From ancient China, to Islam to the Greeks, ginger has been considered an aphrodisiac and cure all for many problems. Ginger is commonly used as a digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, and increases blood flow. Recently in a study in Nigeria at the College of Medicine at the University of Ibada, the effects of ginger on sexual functioning were tested on rats. The finding showed that after the eight days the rats were given ginger infused water, they experienced an increase of testosterone levels and also experienced an increase of weight in their testes.

Another sexual stimulant commonly found in a kitchen is honey. Honey is a great source of B vitamins which is needed for testosterone production. It also contains boron which helps the body metabolize estrogen in women and possibly enhances blood levels of testosterone in men. Molasses is a great source of iron, magnesium, chromium, and potassium, all being especially important in sexual hormone production for men.

That means holiday foods—which you probably thought you should stay away from—like pumpkin pie, spice cake, and gingersnaps are actually good for you. To maximize the effects of these ingredients, try adding a teaspoon of ginger and molasses to apple pie and apple crisp, add cinnamon to blackberry pie and cherry cobbler. Not only will your secret ingredient be delectable to the palette, but be infusing aphrodisiacs into your diet.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Aphrodisiacs: Science or Witchcraft?

Research done by the Health Professional Follow-Up Study found that regular exercise, weight loss, and weight maintenance were all “bedroom boosters”. Prescriptions, diet and exercise are considered science but the realm of aphrodisiacs are erroneously considered magic.

Some conservatives will claim that herbs and “potions” are witchcraft. It’s true that wise women who knew of medicinal cures long ago were thought of as witches—and sometimes burned at the stake for it. But cooking with aphrodisiacs is no more witchcraft than pharmaceuticals, nutrition or psychology.
The idea behind aphrodisiacs is that they aid in curing sexual inadequacies, whether those problems may be mental or physical. In reality, most aphrodisiacs are not true cures, but are herbs, vegetables and fruits rich in specific vitamins that heighten the body’s sexual functioning.

Hundreds of years ago, introducing a new exotic food into European culture from the Americas like chocolate or tomatoes did have a stimulating effect on the body, supplementing people with vitamins they normally wouldn’t eat. Exotic foods like coffee or rare foods like truffles were difficult to obtain, so eating a reputed aphrodisiac had nutritional benefits. A boost of Vitamin A, B, C, etc. can increase energy, stamina and overall well being. Small doses of caffeine increase energy.

Another way aphrodisiacs work is that they stimulate the psyche if one is eating a food or meal that reminds them of sexual organs such as bananas, asparagus, oysters or figs. In times of the past, people used food that symbolically resembled parts of a man or woman’s body in rituals, potions and cooking to inspire arousal. The subconscious isn’t a bad way to go. All seeds and nuts were symbols of fertility and virility because they represented male or female organs. Plants such as cucumbers, bananas and carrots are considered phallic because of their long, slender shape. Oysters and figs are symbolic of female organs.

Between the psychology and nutrition of aphrodisiacs, usually that is all one needs in order to benefit. But in some circumstances, the body needs more. Sometimes one needs something to enhance the libido. That is where true aphrodisiacs come in. Damiana, yohimbe bark, chocolate, and fava beans stimulate serotonin and dopamine and help decrease depression. Some plants have natural hormones or help increase hormones needed for sexual function such as soy which contains phytoestrogen for women, or ginko for men. Other herbs that promote circulation include ginger, and capsaicin (chili pepper).

In some cases when that isn’t enough, there are still other factors to examine such as exercise and medical conditions. For more information on this, see previous posts "Out of Order: 30 million American Men Battling Sexual Dysfunction" and "Out of Order: Sexual Dysfunction Solutions." More posts on aphrodisiacs are to come in the upcoming months.