Aphrodisiacs That Work—as Long as You Believe They Do
Science may not have signed off on these classic libido boosters. But that shouldn’t stop you from conducting your own experiments…
People looking for sizzle in their love life should try adding this spice to the mix: Cleopatra took baths in waters scented with saffron prior to making love. According to Suzanne C. Fuchs, MD, health and wellness expert/blogger, some research suggests that saffron has antidepressant properties because it supports the metabolism of serotonin—the neurotransmitter important to a good mood. If you’re feeling down, you’re less likely to be interested in sex, right? Dr. Fuchs warns that it’s better to use saffron in foods rather than take it as a supplement. Just be sure to avoid these foods that can kill your sex drive.
Honey’s romantic nature is undeniable. The only scientific evidence that honey might help is for something called “mad honey” —which is potentially poisonous. So why not focus on honey’s sensual taste and texture? According to Julissa Arangure from Shari’s Berries, honey contains substances like boron which could, in theory, help boost sex hormones. Here are some other natural ways to boost your sex drive, too.
Pinks and oranges
You might be surprised to learn how color perception can influence desire: Lynn Anderson, PhD, author and naturopath, says, “Pink is a soothing color and sets the mood for relaxation. Orange is associated with the sex center (also known as the sacral chakra); it stimulates appetite and reduces fatigue. So if you want to relax your partner and serve them a sexually stimulating dinner, set the table with pink carnations and think pumpkin pie for dessert.”
They’re loaded with the mineral magnesium, and that’s key, says Dr. Fuchs: “Magnesium is needed to produce sex hormones like androgen and estrogen that have some control over your libido. Amino acids increase the production of nitric oxide, which is important for expanding blood vessels and increasing blood flow everywhere.” Plus, that fleshy, rich flavor makes it an excellent fruit to hand-feed your lover.
Here’s your excuse to take a vacation ASAP: A study from Expedia finds that travel can boost sex drive by reducing cortisol levels and improving self-perception. There’s nothing like globetrotting with your sweetie to stir those romantic feelings. (And you can take a dream vacation on the cheap with these tips.)
Hit the gym: A 2012 study published in Depression and Anxiety found that women with a dulled libido due to their antidepressant medication (a common side effect) could boost their sexual interest and satisfaction by doing three 30-minute sweat sessions per week. That’s real evidence: The researchers concluded that moderately intense exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which facilitates blood flow to the genital region. Tierney Lorenz, one of the authors who conducted the study, recommends scheduling regular sexual activity and exercise in order to maintain a healthy libido.
To turn up romance, turn on the tunes: After studying images of the brain, researchers at McGill University in Montreal found that listening to music releases the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine. A study in the Journal of Research in Music Education suggests music releases serotonin. The only catch is that everyone has different music tastes, so try involving your partner in compiling your lovemaking playlist.
Yes, the fruit has a suggestive shape. However, research suggests the most potent banana-related aphrodisiac may come from the smell of banana bread. The scent boosted arousal in women by an average of 12 percent. Is it time to include baking as part of your foreplay? Maybe just stick with these proven ways to improve your sex life instead.
Whether you trust the science or not, chocolate deserves a role as an aphrodisiac. In research, chocolate has been found to enhance affection and boost serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. According to Dr. Anderson, “The reason for this is that chocolate contains a substance known as phenylethylamine, or PEA. It’s PEA that brings on the amphetamine-like rush of chemistry known as sexual attraction.” Some scientists dismiss chocolate’s powers as more psychological than biological—but isn’t that just like a scientist? After all, your mind is a very erogenous zone, Raquel Welch famously said.
This succulent fruit is loaded with lycopene, a vital antioxidant that helps relax blood vessels and improve circulation to all areas of the body—including your genitals. Dr. Fuchs explains, “Phytonutrients are one of the beneficial components in watermelons that include lycopene and the libido-enhancing citrulline. Citrulline produces nitric oxide, which widens blood vessels. The increase in blood flow helps to decrease blood pressure by a response mechanism. Basically, the blood vessels relax much like the response caused by Viagra.”
This luscious and tart fruit plays a huge role in fertility and libido lore—and recent studies have even found that pomegranate juice can be helpful with erectile dysfunction. Because it’s bursting with antioxidants, drinking a dash of pomegranate juice spritzer could boost virility. Although the price tag of poms comes off a bit hefty, the cost may be worth it for those looking for a break. Don’t miss these other natural aphrodisiac foods proven to spark romance.